RICHMOND HILL, Ont. — The Anglican Church of Canada has voted to approve of same-sex “marriage” a day after a miscount resulted in reports that the measure had been struck down.
“A minister may only solemnize a marriage between persons of the same sex if authorized by the diocesan bishop,” the resolution, moved by minister Colin Johnson, read.
It also proposed to substitute the word “partners” for “husband and wife” in church canon, and to substitute “the parties to the marriage” for “a man and a woman.”
Discussion and debate was held about the matter during the General Synod July 7-12 in Richmond Hill. Anglicans currently officiate over civil unions, but church canon recognizes marriage as being between only a man and a woman.
“I’m convinced full inclusion is the Christian way,” Alistair McCollum of St. John the Divine told the Times Colonist. “There is still a large part of the church that is struggling with this and they are good-hearted. … but we need to use our hearts and heads and follow the prime principles of love and justice.”
However, others were concerned that some ministers seemed to conjoin being a pastor with supporting same-sex nuptials.
“I will not approve this,” David Parsons of the diocese of the Arctic stated during the gathering. “[But] I will be pastoral to everyone.”
Yukon Bishop Larry Robertson walked out in protest, opining that the issue was too divisive.
“I cannot participate in a decision-making that pits soul against soul, brother against brother,” he stated. “I will neither vote yea or nay, and I will not be abstaining. I will not participate in the decision-making; I will participate in this house as a bishop of this church. I will continue to proclaim the gospel.”
The resolution’s authors had compiled a report about the matter, asserting, “The experience of same-sex committed partnerships in our midst, clearly manifesting God’s blessing and the fruit of the Spirit, are a powerful indication that God’s view of marriage may be more inclusive than ours.”
But the report also provided insight into the opposition to the move, including from a church member who wrote a letter to express his concern.
“It shouldn’t be up to me or any other layperson to decide what is and what isn’t God’s revealed truth. The fact that I have to write this letter to defend one of the most fundamental doctrines of the church as made clear by Scripture, tradition and reason is disheartening to say the least,” they wrote.
On Monday, it appeared that the resolution had failed by a single vote, but it was later discovered that one vote had been mistakenly counted in the lay order instead of the clergy order. For a resolution to pass, it must obtain a two-thirds majority in the lay, clergy and bishops orders.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz announced on Tuesday that there had been a counting error and that the resolution had actually passed.
The theme of this year’s Synod was “You Are My Witnesses,” based upon Isaiah 43:10. 1.6 million Canadians currently identify as Anglican.