General Synod 2010

A115: Affirmation of Sexuality Discernment (carried)
Subject: Affirmation of Sexuality Discernment
Moved by: The Most Rev’d Colin R. Johnson, Toronto
Seconded by :The Venerable Peter John Hobbs, Ottawa

Be it resolved that this General Synod:

Affirms the attached statement of its discussions on human sexuality and requests the General Secretary to forward it to the Diocesan Bishops with the request that it will be distributed within each diocese.

Source: Council of General Synod

Sexuality Discernment report, June 9, 2010
Discernment on Sexuality
General Synod 2010

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada met in Halifax, Nova Scotia in June of 2010. Together we entered into intentional conversations in order to hear where our Church is at this time in its life in relation to the matter of blessing of same gender unions. Our conversations were marked by grace, honesty and generosity of spirit towards one another. There was robust participation in the conversations. In dialogue we shared our passion for the mission of God in the world and our thoughts, feelings and convictions. We were attentive to each others’ perspectives, experiences and stories and we shared a commitment to continued theological reflection and scriptural study as a foundation to our ongoing dialogue and discernment.

We engaged these conversations within the particularity of our Canadian context – a country that is diverse and many cultured. Canadians have been learning how to dialogue across their diversities over the course of our national life. We do so with deeply held commitments to transparency and openness, an approach that is not without risk and that we affirm as a great gift. Often, in processes of discernment, the task is to see our way through a paradox.

Our conversations affirmed the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in our churches, aboriginal voices in our midst, and the wide range of perspectives on the issue of same gender blessings across all dioceses. Our dialogue has been a positive and helpful step in our discernment. At this time, however, we are not prepared to make a legislative decision. Above, in and through all of this, and despite all our differences we are passionately committed to walking together, protecting our common life.

We acknowledge diverse pastoral practices as dioceses respond to their own missional contexts. We accept the continuing commitment to develop generous pastoral responses. We recognize that these different approaches raise difficulties and challenges. When one acts there are implications for all. There can be no imposition of a decision or action, but rather we are challenged to live together sharing in the mission of Christ entrusted to us, accepting that different local contexts call at times for different local discernment, decision and action.

We are in a time of ongoing discernment which requires mutual accountability through continuing dialogue, diocese to diocese and across the wider church. It also requires continued theological and scriptural study and dialogue on the wide range of matters relating to human sexuality.

For many members of General Synod there is deep sadness that, at this time, there is no common mind. We acknowledge the pain that our diversity in this matter causes. 

We are deeply aware of the cost to people whose lives are implicated in the consequences of an ongoing discernment process.

This is not just an ‘issue’ but is about people’s daily lives and deeply held faith commitments. For some, even this statement represents a risk. For some the statement does not go nearly far enough.

In the transparency and openness we have experienced with one another, we have risked vulnerability but it is in such places that we grow closer in the body of Christ and behold each other as gift. Abiding with each other, and with God we are sustained through struggle, patient listening, and speaking from the mind and heart together. We have experienced these conversations as a gift for us here at Synod and hope that they will be a further gift to the Anglican Church of Canada and to the wider Church.



  1. So they agree that they do not agree and as yet no one side holds a majority of votes in Synod. Of course, this means that their HoB or Synod have taken no formal actions, so all is well for their place at the AC table.

  2. “This is not just an ‘issue’ but is about people’s daily lives and deeply held faith commitments. For some, even this statement represents a risk. For some the statement does not go nearly far enough.”

    Did I miss something? As far as I could tell, as “far” as they went was to agree to put some pieces of paper in the mail. I’m sure that will go a long way in reducing the rate of gay-teen suicide.

  3. After the first sentence, it may as well read…”blah, blah, blah, blah, blather, and blah,” because it’s simply a restatement of every middle-of-the-road-too-afraid-to-rock-the-boat group we’ve heard so often in the past. It’s amazing to me how often human beings can string a whole lot of pretty words together with the intention of placating and the result of meaning absolutely nothing.

  4. It’s not as bad as it seems.

    “We acknowledge diverse pastoral practices as dioceses respond to their own missional contexts.”

    Decoded: “local option”

    In the next month, look for at least 2 or 3 dioceses to formally announce pastoral provisions.

    wv: “mysties” — yes, the situation is very misty and mystical

  5. I’m not surprised. I fully expected that the ACofC would take no “formal” action. Rowan is probably quite relieved. I doubt that he wanted to exclude the Canadian church from the ecumenical meetings.

  6. Great & apt photo, MP! I hope the bishop of Toronto will allow some new local options soon. More interesting comments from a blogger at synod, found at

    It’s disconcerting to hear that during the sessions/vote “like God, Canon Kearon looks down (from halfway up the bleachers) upon us all.” Sounds like more than subtle intimidation and meddling.

  7. So Canada will now claim that it has not, formally authorized rites and its diocese will continue to do exactly that. It is rather cute actually because for England to call them on it, would be to put all those civil partnership clergy couples in play.


  8. I haven’t left a comment here in a long time, and I fully expect to get shot down in flames over this one too, but here goes.

    I think that, in a very Canadian fashion, what is happening here is that we are very slowly moving away from the question, ‘What should we as a national church do about this?’ to the question ‘Is this an issue over which we can accept diversity of practice within our church, and if so, what would that look like?’

    If we can find an answer to the second question that will allow both congregations that want to practice same-sex blessings, and congregations that want to continue their more traditional practice and belief, to stay together in the same church – rather than a situation in which one side wins and the other side leaves – then I think we may well achieve something of worldwide import in the Anglican Communion.

    Of course, people whose version of inclusivity means only ‘everyone who agrees with me should be included and the others should find a different church’ will not be happy.

  9. Canada waffles and the AB of Cape Town shows his true conservative colors by taking TEC to task by his words directed at the PB today there in England.

    GLBT folks will be aiming for cover now that he has dragged the Anglican church in Southern Africa backwards from what he inherited from his two predecessors.

    I am not sure where we go from here. It is obvious that Australia, NZ, Canada and probably Scotland are too damn British to want to offend anyone and so will have pretty much all waffled when it comes to actually taking a stand on GLBT issues. Yes, they will quietly send TEC pats to the back, but none of them have the balls to really do anything that will draw any of the fire currently directed at TEC.

    And to my Australian, NZ, Canadian and Scottish friends, I am not speaking of individuals at this moment, but your institutional churches. So do not think that I am commenting about any of you.

  10. I agree, let the ABC unweave this as he likes…formal, even-handed nothingness! No muss, no fuss as The Anglican Church of Canada lobbed the ball right back into the ++foggyblurvoid at Lambeth Palace.

  11. This is very disappointing. The ACC must throw a really good party for them to be so mealy-mouthed.
    For the life of me, I will never understand how saying “Yes” to inclusion of the LGBT community somehow disenfranchises those who are already inside.

  12. A few points.

    1. By my analysis, it’s a toss-up which side would win a vote at General Synod. Quite apart from waffling for Rowan, it would have been tactically stuipid for either side to press for an up and down yes-no vote.

    2. I think that Jim and Tim are correct that we are likely moving to the “local option” without saying so. So long as the local option eventually extends to the most local expression of Church, it effectively means that the reappraisers have won without having to rub the reasserters’ noses in it. Is that such a bad thing from the progressive point of view?

    3. I think that Dah-veed’s take on Abp Thabo is off the mark.
    a) What he said to +KJS was not that nasty or unreasonable. It was merely an accurate description of how the American actions play in much of the 2/3 world.
    b) Unlike Pope Rowan, +Thabo had the gonads to say it to her face.
    c) Unlike Pope Rowan, +Thabo had the integrity to be equally critical of the thieves and embezzlers.

  13. Sending Kenneth Kearon to Cananda to lecture the ACoC is the same ploy that happened to TEC in 2006 when we had the AB of York come lecture us… we know what happened in the last hours of GC-2006… it produced B033.

  14. If we can find an answer to the second question that will allow both congregations that want to practice same-sex blessings, and congregations that want to continue their more traditional practice and belief, to stay together in the same church – rather than a situation in which one side wins and the other side leaves – then I think we may well achieve something of worldwide import in the Anglican Communion.

    And just how has TEC done anything different than that, Tim? We have simply said that dioceses can call whom they will to be their bishop and that bishops may permit same-sex blessings for pastoral reasons. No diocese is forced to call any particular person as bishop. No priest is ever forced to perform a same-sex blessing.

    (There will always be someone who is unhappy about what their bishop or priest is doing–that’s life, and we don’t require bishops and priests to get absolute agreement from everyone before allowing them to act. Thank God!)

    “Local option” requires the permission of the bishop, no matter what. If conservatives cannot stomach the idea of a bishop ever giving approval to same-sex blessings, then “local option” is not going to save you from the time of trial. It will only drag out the conflict for years (if not decades) to come.

    In the meantime, it will do irreparable damage to the already-tattered reputation of the Christian church.

    According to my quick Google search, maybe 10% of Canadians attend church in any given week and that number is falling. As gays and lesbians get married and the sky doesn’t fall, expect that figure to get even smaller. Most intelligent Canadians–and, eventually, Americans–will figure that any God who would stand in opposition to love and commitment is a bastard god, not worth worshiping, and they will choose to sleep in on Sunday morning and give their energies (and offerings) to other organizations. I, for one, won’t blame them a bit.


  15. I think Tim is right about this, but did that statement have to be so much MUSH….. An example of the most horribly unintelligible goo that attempts to hide any real communication, the worst aspect of political correctness.

  16. Malcom, I did not say that what +Cape Town said was nasty. What I said was that he has taken a number of steps back from the enlightened position of his two predecessors, and if you listen to his talk that is exactly what he did. First, he identifies strongly that the Church in Southern Africa is very much a part of and identifies with the Global South. +Tutu and +Ndungane never did that to my knowledge. He speaks of GLBT folks not as brother and sister Christians who are equals, he speaks of us as them. He spoke of the church in Southern Africa’s dilemma about how to deal with us present in its midst. What should the church do if they should bring their children to be baptized? What should the church do if they should want their children to attend the parish Sunday School? What should the church do if their older children, of their own accord, seek baptism or confirmation?

    What he directed at +Katharine was that if TEC went ahead with same sex blessings or the consecration of a bishop in a same sex union then TEC has caused them great pain because it has not listened to them. The underlying claim is that if TEC truly listened then TEC would not do what it has done.

    And in the middle of all that he near singlehandedly started the process to make +Rowan Canterbury a bloody Saint!

  17. As discrimination and appeasement of those who discriminate become more and more sugared up, the more disgusting they become.

    verification is very appropriate: “fetti”

  18. KJ,
    In answer to your question, LGBT clergy in the Canadian church are part of the local option now underway. In some dioceses (the Arctic) gay clergy (as well as lay readers and employees) are canonically banned, even if celibate. In some dioceses, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell. In some, gay clergy must be celibate (which is the official position of the church from a 1970’s pastoral letter of the bishops). In other dioceses (New West, BC, Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Niagara, Huron, Ottawa, Western Newfoundland, the Military Ordinariate among others) gay clergy may serve openly. Most prominent is Peter Elliot, Dean of New Westminster. Here in Montreal, we have 5 partnered or married LGBT clergy.

    As to bishops, the question hasn’t come up yet. The consent process require consents from all the other diocesan bishops in the ecclesiastical province; if there’s an objection, there’s usually a procedure for hearing the objection before the metropolitan proceeds with the consecration.

  19. Thanks, Jim. I had assumed that ACC was further down the Yellow Brick Road.

    “Local option” sounds good, but it is good news only for those who see themselves as already “in.” Creating a caste system of believers places a barrier between God and those with whom he would be reconciled, and thus, a sin. I feel safe in saying that, as I take great strength from noting at whom and what Jesus reserved his anger. It is quite simple.

    Is there no sense of shame in acknowledging, “Here, our view of grace is limited, but we know a fine little parish in the next Province where you would likely be more comfortable.”

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. There’s no nonsense like church nonsense. How can any institution that claims the name of Christ be all-consumed by the thought of who is allowed, and who is not allowed, to touch him?

  20. The answer is so incredibly simple, KJ, that it makes us all look even more foolish than we do already.

    You just take all decisions regarding who is in and who is out away from people and leave them to God. If someone asks for communion, you give it to them. If someone asks to be married, you marry them. If a church asks for the ordination of somebody, you ordain them. Under this, Biblical, system, if the wrong choice is made then God’s to blame.

    This is no joke. It’s exactly how I view my role in the sacraments of the church.

  21. I dunno. I agree where access to baptism, confirmation, marriage, confession, absolution and healing are concerned. Ordination is another matter. I think the institution of the church has a certain duty to consider those who seek that in some detail and ask itself if this person is someone they want to see as a spokesperson for the institution. We have seen some amazing blunders in the decision to ordain — cf. several cardinals and several American bishops. So perhaps we need to think about this even more. But that quibble aside, I think we agree.


  22. You know MP where all this who can and who cannot came from. The Isrealite priesthood and the Levites.

    That Old Testament story of the two guys hauling the Ark of the Covenant in a wagon and getting Eternally zapped when they reached out to make sure it did not slip from the wagon when the going got rough has scared the bejesus out of ConEvos.

    They prooftext that story, but they forget all the other stories of the times folks bent the rules and survived.

  23. There’s no nonsense like church nonsense. How can any institution that claims the name of Christ be all-consumed by the thought of who is allowed, and who is not allowed, to touch him?

    Beautiful, KJ.

    Yesterday in the Gospel reading from the Lectionary, Jesus turned Simon the Pharisee’s views about what was proper and improper behavior (for a prostitute no less!) upside down. Is it possible that love trumps canons, doctrine, theology, and other churchy stuff?

    Jonathan, I sent this or a similar comment through already. If the other finally arrives, there’s no need to publish the two.

  24. It is that passage that inspired my thought, Mimi. I probably look a fool as I hold my torch just behind the deacon, during the reading of the Gospel, with a stupid grin on my face.

  25. MP, you are right about the simplicity of simply treating everyone with no limits on eligibility, and letting God sort it out. This was the genius of our previous rector over 20 year ago; he decided sexual orientation would not be a consideration in letting people preform a ministry. If someone felt he/she could do a job, it was theirs to do. It seems to have worked out for us. In the recent financial debacle brought to us by the “Masters of the Universe” (aka Wall Street), we have made our budget and not had to lay off staff, and we have loads of new people and visitors all the time. In our conservative, homophobic diocese, we are something of a sanctuary church, and that all stemmed from that decision so many years ago. It IS that simple, once you stop using the scriptures as a gatekeeper.

  26. It should work for Bible thumpers as well. If the texts they quote, to defend gate keeping are correct, then they don’t have to gate keep because God will zap any naughty people who get through. Unless they are saying that bits in the O.T. are made up or something. In which case they can’t quote them as the words of God.

  27. Doxy has said it quite nicely, so I can’t add anything in that regard.

    @Tim: I wonder what “agreeing to disagree” will look like when it comes to attracting new members ? It would be quite rude, and thus terribly un-Canadian, to put a “No Poofters” notice on the church sign – but how will folks know otherwise ?

    And I ask this quite seriously. Whether you’re inclusive or traditionalist (or whatever terms you like), there would need to be some reasonably clear, unambiguous way to determine where you’d feel welcome. Heck, it took my family three trys here in Dallas to find an Episcopal church where we fit in (same parish as Strangelove as a matter of fact, where we now both serve on the Vestry).

  28. Oh he knows what he got into, MP. I suspect he uses Strangelove, the Junior Warden, and myself as the “comedy relief” mostly… 😉