Diocese of Central Newfoundland
The Anglican Church of Canada
Rt. Rev. David Torraville B.A. B.Ed. M. Div. Office: 34 FraserRoad
Bishop of Central Newfoundland Gander, NL A1V2E8
(709) 256-2372 (T)
February 29, 2016Dear Friends in Christ,
As many of you know, the House of Bishops met in special session last week to discuss the draft resolution coming to General Synod which would change the Marriage Canon to allow for the marriage of same gendered couples in the Anglican Church of Canada. The proposed changes are detailed and involved and if you have not already done so I would suggest that you read the proposed canon and the information surrounding it on the Anglican Church of Canada website.
This is my reflection to our Diocese on the Communication from the House of Bishops from those discussions. This note reflects my feelings alone and I make no claim to represent the House of Bishops or the Primate or to speak on their behalf.
First of all, by way of explanation, for those unfamiliar with the rules of General Synod, General Synod consists of three “Houses” - the House of Laity, the House of Clergy and the House of Bishops. For motions to pass on matters of Doctrine, including the Marriage Canon, a 2/3 majority is required in each House in each of two successive Synods.
With this in mind, in my view, the core of the communication from the House of Bishops from last week’s meeting is that it is unlikely that the draft resolution to change the Marriage Canon will pass in the Order of Bishops by a 2/3 majority.
There will be many in the Canadian Church who will respond to this news with varying degrees of relief and many others who will respond with varying degrees of hurt. Indeed, there will be others who will feel both, who feel a change is needed but that now is not the time. Those expressing relief do so for a variety of reasons, some because they understand the bible in such a way as to believe that same gender marriage is prohibited; others, who believe that making such a change at the moment would further impair our unity within the Anglican Communion, and impair our relationships with other Christian denominations and with other faiths. For them it is a question of being faithful to scripture and/or preserving good relationships with other denominations and faiths.
Those expressing hurt see the presence of, and the Gifts of, the Holy Spirit in people who live in committed same sex relationships. Some will have fellow parishioners, friends, children and grandchildren who are gay and in relationships but who are denied the full ministry of the Church. Some will be served by gay clergy and lay ministers who are, for them, the very hands and compassion of Christ. People feeling this way see the issue as a pastoral issue and as a pastoral failure of the church to act with compassion.
From my experience in our Diocese I suspect that generally there will be relief. However, I caution us to be generous and pastoral in our response, knowing that we have quiet, hurting gay and lesbian individuals and couples who are members of our congregations; we have friends and family of gay people worshiping in our churches, who will feel more vulnerable to judgement than ever. I would commend all our priests and lay people to offer the most generous pastoral support possible to gays and lesbians and their families and friends who live, worship and serve God and God’s people in our Diocese.
I ask for your prayers for General Synod and for all who will be delegates that they be open to the Holy Spirit and to one another. Our General Synod Delegates will be meeting soon to review the proposed resolution, the report and study guide on it. I commend its study to all of us.
Yours in Christ