Friday, June 22, 2007

Regarding the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada

The theme of General Synod, currently meeting in Winnepeg, Manitoba, is "Draw the Circle Wide. Draw It Wider Still!" The General Synod, which meets every three years, is the Anglican Church of Canada’s chief governing body with delegates representing 30 dioceses.

Here is part of Archbishop Andrew Hutchison's Primatial Address: do we wish authority to be exercised or limited within our family of churches? And perhaps most important, how will our decisions witness to the Good News of God in Jesus Christ for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters within the Church and outside it. There are of course many other questions to consider in the hard work of discernment over this issue. We are taught that the first principle of moral theology is obedience to conscience, and I ask each of you to embrace that principle, and with it the ethic of respect for the conscience of those who disagree with your own. The second principle of moral theology is to inform your conscience to bring it, if possible, into line with the teaching of the Church. And here careful listening using the Anglican approach of Scripture, Tradition and Reason will be helpful.

At the end of the day, when decisions are made, they will not be unanimous. Differences will remain, but the unanimous opinion of the Theological Commission (and of many other sources) is that the question of same-gender blessings should not be a communion breaking issue. So the alternative to that is that in keeping with a long Anglican tradition, we make room at the table for those whose views we do not share. For the table is the Lord's and not our own. And it is He who invites us to share the life that is offered there for the sins of the whole world...
There are three proposed resolutions regarding same sex blessings; A186, which states that such blessings are consistent with core doctrine - A187, which authorizes blessings - and B001, which affirms the decision of New Westminster to authorize blessings.

Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, is one of the international observers present at General Synod. The Vancouver Sun is reporting that Canon Kearnon made the following statements:

There's no question the Anglican Church of Canada is a valued member of the Anglican communion. There's never been a scenario considered that would lead to the exclusion of the Anglican Church of Canada.
If this is accurate, it is an extremely bold statement. It becomes more understandable when placed in the context of some of Canon Kearnon's other comments reported by the Anglican Journal:

...The Anglican Communion, he stressed, “is neither a world church nor an international federation. It is a communion of Christian people and the root of our communion is our communion through the Body of Christ.”

He said that Anglicans should not be asking, “what do we have to do to stay in the Anglican Communion? Or what is it that the Communion is demanding of us now?” Rather, they should be asking, “how do I act responsibly to my fellow Christians in the body of Christ? And even more deeply, what does responsibility to my fellow Christians in the Body of Christ mean in our current context?”
Another international observer, Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, addressed the Synod:

...We need to ask ourselves if we aren't being challenged in our application of Canon law and gracious-magnanimity in relation to the question of Human Sexuality. It's a challenge that won't go away. Personally, I take an orthodox view on human sexuality. The word 'orthodoxy ' from Greek means teaching what is right and true; and in Christian tradition, this leads to glorification -- 'being changed from glory to glory' -- orthodoxy is transformative.

That is why I am persuaded that our sexual affections can no more define who we are than our tribe, ethnicity or nationality. At the deepest ontological level, therefore, there is not such thing as a 'homosexual' or 'a heterosexual', or a 'bi-sexual'; there are human beings, male and female, called t redeemed humanity in Christ, endowed with a complex variety of emotional potentialities and threatened by a complex variety of forms of alienation. "In Christ" -- and in him alone -- "We know both God and human nature as they truly are"; and so in Christ alone we know ourselves as we truly are. There can be no description of human reality, in general or in particular, outside the reality in Christ.

Human sexuality must, therefore, be understood and talked about in the context of the reality in Christ.

What is paramount for me are the words of the Apostle Paul that "I resolved to know nothing (while I was with you) but Jesus Christ, and him crucified." My motivation too in relationship to all those I meet is to seek nothing but Christ crucified among them.

And so in my ministry I have learnt to care, hear and listen to those who describe themselves as Gay or Lesbian. They, like me, are called to redeemed humanity in Christ; and what upsets me is the way in which some of my brothers and sisters in Christ refer to members of Christ's Body (Gay and Lesbian Christians) as if they aren't part of that body. I strongly believe that holy communication is part of Holy Communion...
The Lead points us to Andrew's insightful comments on Dr. Semantu's address.

General Synod will also consider the Report of the Windsor Report Response Group. I was especially pleased to see item 6:

...calls upon those archbishops and other bishops who believe that it is their conscientious duty to intervene in Provinces, dioceses and parishes other than their own to implement paragraph 155 of the Windsor Report and to seek an accommodation with the bishops of the dioceses whose parishes they have taken into their own care...
Later today the Anglican Church of Canada will elect a new Primate. You may recall that "Trinity Matthew" offered us some excellent background on the four candidates. Keep in mind that the ACC does things slightly different from TEC. In the ACC, the bishops nominate, but the lay and clergy delegates elect.

Raspberry Rabbit has some additional links to videos and bloggers covering General Synod.

Remember to keep our Canadian neighbors in your prayers.


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