CANADA: 'Progressive' Anglicans urge bishops to allow same-gender marriage

October 30, 2007

A group of Canadian Anglicans on the liberal, or "progressive," side of issues concerning homosexuality and the church have urged Anglican bishops to "proceed to [the] full inclusion [of gay and lesbian people] by providing access to all sacraments and sacramental rites of the church," including marriage.

The letter was addressed to the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, who held their fall meeting in London, Ontario, October 25-30.

The group issuing the letter met at a conference titled "The Widening Circle" October 25-26 at Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Diocese of Huron. About 50 clergy and laypeople attended from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

Delegates noted that the church's national governing convention, General Synod, last June called for an examination of the canon, or church law, regarding marriage. They also acknowledged that the House of Bishops last spring issued a pastoral letter which allowed certain celebrations of a gay relationship, such as a eucharist service, but the meeting delegates said it is not enough.

"The pastoral letter is not full inclusion," said Canon Garth Bulmer of the Diocese of Ottawa, in an interview. The Rev. Neil Fernyhough of the Vancouver-based Diocese of New Westminster, which has permitted blessing ceremonies (but not weddings) for gay couples since 2002, noted that civil gay marriage is now legal in Canada. "Civil society has offered the full meal," he said.

Several conference delegates said they felt that the voices within the church that regard homosexuality as a sin and contrary to the Bible have been louder than the progressive majority. "It is important progressive voices be heard," said the Rev. Judy Herron-Graham of Toronto. "We are the other half of the Anglican Church. How do we reach out to gay and lesbian people with a message of hope?" asked Andrea Brennan of Dorchester, Ontario.

The full story is available on the Anglican Journal website.