Christian Week Newspaper, by Frank Stirk, BC Correspondent
April 13th, 2007 Volume 21 Number 02, p. 2
Canadian Anglicans could move apart this June
The Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) could be just one vote away from choosing to “walk apart” from the global Anglican Communion rather than compromise its liberal views on human sexuality.
In June, 300 delegates to the Church’s general synod in Winnipeg will vote on a series of resolutions, including one deferred from the previous synod in 2004 to let individual dioceses decide whether or not to permit marriage-like blessings for same-sex couples. It will need a 60 per cent majority to pass.
The Council of General Synod (CoGS), a steering committee that oversees Church business between synods, proposed the resolution. Its introduction deliberately brings to a climax a controversy that has been raging since 2002, when BC’s Diocese of New Westminster became the first in the global Communion to authorize same-sex blessings.
Archbishop Andrew Hutchinson, the Church’s primate, sees no point to delaying a final decision any longer. “In the eyes of the Communion, we will have crossed the Rubicon and what damage has been done will have been done,” he told the Anglican Journal.
But Cheryl Chang, executive director of the Anglican Network in Canada, a group that has been attempting to keep the ACC on the path of orthodoxy, warns that more than Canada’s standing within the Communion will be at risk if this resolution passes.
“In New Westminster, there’s a clear breaking of communion between a number of parishioners and parishes and the diocese and the bishop [since 2002]. And I think you’ll see that happening across Canada,” she says. “I think it frankly will split the Church.”
North Vancouver rector Ed Hird is one of those who broke with New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham and the Canadian Church over this issue. Hird, who is now licensed as a priest through the Anglican Province of Rwanda, believes “60 percent is quite possible.”
“The conversations [I’ve had with Anglican clergy] around this same-sex stuff are basically that this is just the way it is,” he says. “It’s a very entrenched, protected reality in this part of the world.”
Yet especially among the increasingly powerful African and Asian Anglican leadership, any condoning of homosexuality is considered heresy. And after years of trying to resolve their differences with liberal North American Anglicans, they too are signaling the need for a clear resolution of this crisis.
Meeting in Tanzania, the Communion’s primates or top leaders gave the Episcopal Church in the US until September 30th to either abandon their policy of accepting same-sex marriage and gay clergy or face expulsion –demands its bishops have since rejected.
Hird suspects that the ACC leadership is preparing for a similar ultimatum. “It looks to me that…they’re trying to go for broke,” he says, referring to the resolution.
“The more the global primates stand for orthodoxy and what Anglicans have always believed, the more you’re likely to [see the Canadians] pushing for a new agenda.”
In fact, Chang accuses the CoGS of trying to create a win-win situation for itself. If the resolution passes, “They get what they want,” she says. But if it fails, they have provided delegates no opportunity to affirm their full commitment to the global Communion.
That will “leave us in a place of ambiguity – which [to the primates] is the same as a vote to walk apart,” says Chang.
Archbishop Yong Ping Chung, formerly the Anglican primate of Southeast Asia, says it is “completely within God’s hands” whether or not the ACC stays within the Communion.
As he told Christian Week during a pastoral visit to BC last summer, “I think it’s probable that the Canadian Church will walk apart, just based on previous general synods and the votes they’ve had and the percentages within Canada that support the direction of the Church…That being said, He is a God of miracles and Canada may not walk apart.”
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