Western Newfoundland Anglican Church to allow performing of same-sex marriage
Special synod meeting had vote of 94 per cent in favour
CBC News · Posted: Sep 07, 2019 2:02 PM NT | Last Updated: September 8
The Anglican Church in western Newfoundland is moving forward with performing same-sex marriages despite a vote in July by the Anglican Church of Canada where it voted against the motion during its general assembly.
75 per cent of the general synod had voted in favour to pass the motion for the Anglican Church of Canada to allow for same-sex marriages to be performed, but the vote was defeated in the House of Bishops.
“The outcome of that was tremendous pain and suffering for LGBT folks, and for their families and friends and for their allies. It was a very difficult synod,” said John Organ, Bishop of the Diocese of Western Newfoundland.
So, what I hope for our diocese and the people of western Newfoundland is that it will be kind of a healing action that we’re taking.-Cynthia Haines-Turner
However, an individual diocese can still choose whether or not to perform same-sex marriages, regardless of the outcome from July’s general assembly vote.
Some Anglican parishes across Canada have been doing so since 2016 based on an initial approval for changing the marriage canon.
As of March, St. Michael and All Angels in St. John’s was still waiting for the national vote to swing in favour before moving ahead with performing the marriages.
“We issued a statement expressing our regret for what had happened and the pain that we had caused, and then recommending or encouraging local option so that each dioceses could do what it needed to do in its context to respond to the needs of gay and lesbian people and their full inclusion in the church,” Organ told CBC Radio’s Newfoundland Morning.
“So that’s what we have done here in our diocese.”
The vote for the Diocese of Western Newfoundland to move forward with same-sex marriages came in at around 94 per cent in favour of during a special synod meeting.
Cynthia Haines-Turner, a lay person in the Anglican church, said it was an amazing moment when so many people stood up to cast their vote during the special synod.
“It was really quite powerful,” Haines-Turner said.
“We don’t want to be putting up barriers. So what I hope for our diocese and the people of western Newfoundland is that it will be kind of a healing action that we’re taking.”
While the vote for the Diocese of Western Newfoundland to move forward with same-sex marriages was an overwhelming majority in favour, Organ said it’s not a forced issue and that non-consenting clergy are not obligated to perform the marriages.
- ‘It’s a when, and not an if,’ says Anglican parish priest ready to move forward with same-sex marriages
Even still, non-consenting clergy will not leave couples out in the cold.
Organ said the clergy will help point marriage-seeking couples in the right direction.
“They will do a non-biased, affirming referral to the regional dean or the archdeacon and we will find a priest that will go and do that wedding,” Organ said.
The Canadian Anglican Church’s General Synod made the decision not to alter its Canon of Marriage to specifically accommodate Same-Sex Marriage.
However, in the wake of the consternation of the majority who favoured the change (it was defeated by a narrow vote in the House of Bishops) the Bishops issued a ‘Note to The Church’, which left it up to the individual dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada to make their own decision on whether – or not – to go ahead with the Celebration of Same-Sex Marriages in their diocese.
In determining (by an overwheloming majority) their own action – to Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage in their diocese – the Bishop, clergy and laity of the Diocese of West Newfoundland are merely putting into practice what they had already considered offering to same-sex couples before the Vote was taken by General Synod. This action now has the tacit approval – via ‘Note to The Church – of the Bishops of the Canadian Anglican Province – while yet allowing non-consenting clergy and parishes to avoid having to conduct Same-Sex Marriage or Blessings in their own parishes.
(While we in ACANZP (the Anglican Province of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia) have not altered our own Canon of Marriage, and no actual Same-Sex Marriage ceremonies may be conducted in our church; there is provision – if the local bishop, clergy and parishes desire to do so – for the Blessing of a Same-Sex Marriage or a Civil Partnership relationship that has already been legalised in the civil arena). This provision (S/S Marriage Blessing) has already been made available in the Christchurch Diocese).
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand