Diocesan Synod put the task of formulating the diocese’s response to the controversial St. Michael Report into the hands of Diocesan Council, in its annual meeting at Capilano College, North Vancouver, May 26 and 27.
The St. Michael Report, issued a year ago, offered the opinion that the blessing of same-sex unions is a “matter of doctrine” – but not “core” doctrine.
The report came from the Primate’s Theological Commission of the national Anglican Church of Canada. It is to be dealt with by the next General Synod of the national Church, which meets next summer.
If accepted by the General Synod when it meets in June, 2007, the report could lead to the withdrawal of the same sex blessings in the diocese, since matters of doctrine are considered within the jurisdiction of the national church, not dioceses.
Diocesan Synod had before it three motions dealing with the St. Michael’s report. In essence, they all would have had Diocesan Synod officially inform the national General Synod that the blessing should stand and continue to be used in the Diocese of New Westminster.
However a number of clergy and delegates from parishes which in 2002 were in the minority opposed to the adoption of the blessing said these motions, if passed, would make things very difficult for them.
The Rev. Peter Klenner of St. Mark's
The Rev. Peter Klenner of St. Mark, Ocean Park, in Surrey, said that he was under a great deal of pressure from parishioners and others in his congregation who wanted to know why he remained loyal to the diocese. Many were lobbying the congregation of St. Mark’s to leave.
“Sufficient to say I have had a lot of free lunches over the last few years,” he joked.
The Rev. John Oakes of Holy Trinity, Vancouver, proposed that instead of dealing immediately with the issue, Diocesan Council “establish an inclusive consultation process to enable Diocesan Council to develop a considered diocesan response to the St. Michael Report.”
Oakes motion was seconded by the Rev. Richard Leggett of the Vancouver School of Theology, a long-time proponent of the blessing, and one of the authors of the New Westminster rite.
Other movers and seconders of the three motions also agreed to the delay, and the motions were referred to the 40-member council.