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Diocesan Synod voted to set up a special task force last weekend to make “practical recommendations” on restoring relationships strained by differences over the blessings of same sex unions.

The motion was brought by the Rev. Paul Woehrle, rector of St. David’s, Tsawwassen, who said there were many people in his parish who remain torn by the issue.

The Rev. Paul Woehrle, rector of St. David's, Tsawwassen, speaks to Diocesan Synod at Capilano College, North Vancouver.

The motion gained support from Archdeacon Lou Rivers of St. Christopher, West Vancouver, who said the diocese “must do as much as we can to leave the doors open” to parishes who have withdrawn support from the diocese and participation from diocesan activities.

“All of us need to be willing to listen,” said Archdeacon Andrew Pike of St. Anne’s, Richmond, who said the success of such a task force will depend upon people on both sides of the issue. “It takes two to tango,” he added.

The Rev. Peter Klenner of St. Mark’s, Ocean Park, Surrey, said the motion was not only addressed to the eight parishes who failed to send delegates to synod, but to conservative parishes which were participating.

The Rev. Sarah Tweedale of St. Clement, North Vancouver, while concerned about yet another task force being appointed, said that anything that helped rebuild relationships was to the good. “We are all hurting in different ways,” she said.

Speaking against the motion was the Rev. Roger Cooper of St. George, Maple Ridge, who felt that reconciliation was the work of the bishop.

The task force is to be established by the bishop and Diocesan Council and report its findings to the Diocesan Synod next year.

Other motions passed by the Diocesan Synod:

  • Asked Diocesan Council to find funds to restore Anglican chaplains at St. Paul’s Hospital and the Vancouver General Hospital.
  • Requested that the bishop write to the federal government to ask that the government respect the “right of sanctuary” in recognized places of worship.
  • Affirmed support for free public education, and asked the provincial government to increase funding.
  • Declared that every individual in our society has a fundamental right to adequate food, clothing, housing, and education and voted to ask the provincial government to rescind all laws imposing time limits for receiving income assistance – and encouraged the government to evaluate its programs to get people off welfare.
  • Commended to the clergy and people of the Diocese of New Westminster the “Landmark Legacy Campaign” of the Vancouver School of Theology.
  • Urged that all diocesan committees involved in programs of outreach and ministry co-operate and partner with other churches and organizations for greater impact
  • Encouraged all Anglicans within the Diocese of New Westminster to sign the United Nations-supported “Manifesto 2000” pledge to reject violence, encourage sharing and be environmental responsible, etc.

The synod also passed two “housekeeping” amendments to clarify diocesan canons and to set up a fund to receive the bequest of Margaret Lewis, who left $1.25 million to the diocese when she died in 2002.

The synod ran out of time before coming to a motion to endorse the Romanow Report on Healthcare, and referred it to the June meeting of Diocesan Council