Archive for the ‘General Synod’ Category

Eucharist photos

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Now that I’m back in Toronto, I’ve downloaded the photos taken at the Integrity service at General Synod 2010.  We were initially supposed to be in a large, flat room, but that was being set up for another function (we found out 35min before the service), and so we were moved to a lecture theatre.  Somewhat unconventional for a worship service, but the sight lines were good.

The images in the gallery below are all clickable – they will embiggen and a caption will be visible.

I’ll post more on my Facebook page (Chris Ambidge)

This was a very encouraging show of support – I estimate that 20% were gay; which means that 80 people were straight supporters.  Thank you to all (and to Linda and Patti and dean Peter Wall for helping it actually happen)

Chris

Singing

Singing

Written by Chris

June 13th, 2010 at 10:44 am

Posted in General Synod

Summarising Thursday Msn hack

with 5 comments

[some of this is repeat, some of it is further reflection, some is response to negative comment I've seen on mailing lists]

Today was the big sex day.  Synod heard read (a second time) the sexuality discernment statement, which summarises the position of synod members.  That was received and asked to be sent to the diocesan bishops for circulation in their parishes in a fairly anodyne referral motion.

Speaker after speaker after speaker endorsed it, from all sides of the debate.  Everyone wanted to affirm, to agree with the statement.  It truly does represent where the ACCanada is at the moment, as a whole.  It isn’t as far along as I might like, but as a scientist, I need to rely on the evidence in front of me; and that evidence is the stories as told by the 350 members of synod who represent the church.  that’s our task.

Some observers are disappointed in the absence of explicit permission for same sex blessings, or even changes to the marriage canon.  While I might wish for those changes too, that wouldn’t happen.  If you read the text, however, there is zero mention of the three moratoria.  They have now expired as far as the canadian church as a whole is concerned.  Some bishops may choose not to advance, but there is no restriction on bishops choosing to move towards further blessings.  I quote (para 4)

“We acknowledge diverse pastoral practices as dioceses respond to their own missional contexts.  We accept the continuing commitment to develop generous pastoral responses”

That’s local option, right there.

There is also essentially no mention of the church beyond Canada, beyond the final sentence “hope that they will be a further gift to the ACCanada and to the wider church”.  There is zero mention of  “we’re worried about what the Anglican Communion is going to do to us”.  General Synod is almost entirely focused on the benefit and state of the flock that has been entrusted to the Canadian bishops.

There is nothing in the document to countermand, slow down or stop the situations in those dioceses which have authorised rites:  BC, New West, Central Interior, Huron, Niagara, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal [which probably represent well over half of the Anglican population of the country].  There is nothing to stop another diocese – say NSPEI – from moving forward.  There is, unfortunately, nothing to explicitly permit Rupert’s Land to proceed (they passed an enabling motion with a “pending approval of General Synod” clause, and given their chancellor, I don’t think he’d read what we said as ‘approval’).  I would expect that NewWest to expand its ministry – their response to the moratoria was to stop approving new parishes, and stopping at 7.  apparently there are five more ready to go.

In the course of the debate, there were people who were very negative – Archdeacon Vicars Hodge of Fredericton; Terry Buckle +Yukon and others – who were saying positive things about this.  Everyone, especially First Nations people, endorsing how they felt their voices had been heard.  This is an indication that the Holy Spirit has been at work.  Even more significant, after motion A115 passed, there were two opposite direction motions calling for moratoria, and another for increased pastoral generosity.  Archdeacon Hodge of F’ton, mover of the lets-have-moratoria motion, suggested that they both be withdrawn.  That is HUGE.  Battles over those two would probably have been quite messy, but in fact didn’t even come to the floor.  Synod was very clear, that it wanted our main work on the sexuality question to be the 9 June 2010 statement.  But instead, those who were most pushing for explicit endorsement of moratoria, decided to withdraw.

The votes were overwhelming: unanimous in the bishops, only six contrary, by my count, in clergy and laity, and no, I was not one of the six.  I believe that this morning saw one of the real moments of very apparent grace at synods – and they don’t come along every session.

At the tail end of paragraph 2 is this:  “often, in processes of [dialogue and] discernment, the task is to see our way through a paradox”.  I think that is key.  Some want to move towards marriage and blessings, others do not.  We all, and this was even more abundantly clear than the wanting to leave the statement as our main message, want everyone in the church to be heard and to be at home in their church, even if that becomes uncomforatble.  Holding all those together IS a paradox.  But it is something that we, the Canadian church, want to do.

That is not compatible with the “lets have a vote and our side had better WIN” impulse that I read from many on either edge of this discussion.  Their attitude is their choice.  It is not mine, neither is it that of the General Synod.  I believe that the Canadian passage of (in PJ Hodge’s phrase) relentless incrementalism is what is going to work, in the long run, in this culture and this context.

=====  =====

I’ll try to get the Integrity eucharist photos up too – 108 people is not only twice the number we had last time (benefits of a site in the synod venue, as opposed to an off-site church); but I’d say only 20% of them were from The Fruit.  There was a whole LOT of straight allies with us, and that felt REALLY good.  More on that later.

Chris

Written by Chris

June 10th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Posted in General Synod

Eucharist

without comments

Despite a few wrinkles, like the room being double booked–even Anglicans have some trouble worshipping in a space that is being transformed into a bar for a reception later–the eucharist came off swimmingly.  The final nose-count was 108–yep, 108 from youth delegates to the rather more hoary of head.  It was far beyond the usual suspects.  We had people from all over the country, including the dioceses of Caledonia, Saskatchewan, Fredericton, Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, Algoma, and Moosonee (and those were just the ones I saw as they entered).  +John Chapman (Ottawa) celebrated and Peter Elliott (New Westminster) praught (teach/taught ergo preach/praught) a fabulous sermon.  It was lovely, the a capella singing (in four very respectable parts) was lusty, and I snivelled.  Chris, as official photographer, will add the pics later.  What a way to end the week.

Written by Patti

June 10th, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Posted in General Synod

anti-LGBT persecution motion / covenant acceptance

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This afternoon we did two things:

a) had a presentation on the proposed covenant. After some table work on “what would be good for study materials”, we were presented with a motion that received this draft for study and referring it to various bodies for study to bring forward to GS2013 with clear discussion of ramifications for accepting and for not accepting.

b) Resolution C010 – on persecution and marginalisation of LGBT around the world. This was actually received late – regular motions the deadline was Monday, it didn’t come in until yesterday’s deadline for sexuality motions. That deadline was actually about GS’s sexuality discussions, and this one was not actually relevant. However, 2/3 consent was received to put it back onto the agenda. The text deplores legislation calling for punishments for LGBT people and their supporters, encouraging our partners to do the same, and request hte ACCanada to embrace the outcast and stand against abuse and torment of LGBT people. The mover/seconder were from the youth delegates. Other than the mover, no one spoke for or against, and it carried unanimously.

Now it’s time to go get ready for the Integrity eucharist

Chris

Written by Chris

June 10th, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Posted in General Synod

A115/Sexuality Discernment passes GenSynod

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This Thursday morning at General Synod, we heard the sexuality discernment statement of 9 June 2010 read again, and then there was motion A115, accepting the statement and referring copies of same to all diocesan bishops to distribute to their dioceses as they saw fit (quite possibly with other materials from other bishops).

Before we began debate, we prayed and sat in silence for 3min, and then sang a hymn invoking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I found myself in tears in that silence, not of anger or frustration, but of realising that this was a “take off your shoes, you’re on holy ground” moment.  It was something at the very core of Integrity’s work.  And I heard the voice of one of Toronto’s bishops – Philip Poole, I think – when at a recent synod, members’ hour, when a very nervous person got up to speak and froze and got emotional.  As we were waiting for her to be able to speak, +Philip said, “remember you’re among friends here”, and that  phrase stuck with me.

There was extensive debate on this motion, though it was abundantly clear by the third speaker that it would pass.  Synod is clearly very committed to staying together, and ensuring all parts of the church are heard from and not silenced.  Person after person spoke of how much they appreciated the dialogue process as constructed.  Many people said that the whole atmosphere of this synod was so much more collegial and less confrontational and polarised than GS07 in Winnipeg (and I noticed that myself).

The seconder of the motion was PJ [last name escaping me, was a candidate for deputy prolocutor, archdeacon from Ottawa (The Ven. Peter John Hobbs, Bp Colin Johnson (Toronto) was mover.)] spoke of this (over the years, dating back at least to 95 when synod welcomed gays and lesbians in the life of the church) as “relentless incrementalism”.  That’s a good soundbite, and it’s a good description.

Just about every person who spoke was in favour of the statement.  Just about everyone could see something of themselves there.  Those who didn’t tended to be youth, and annoyed (or similar verb) that it wasn’t going far enough.  There was only one attempt to wordsmith the statement (but it didn’t come as an amendment, so we moved on to the next speaker)   .  The issue was with line 1 of para 3:  Our conversations affirmed the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in our churches – the speaker said that in many cases there isn’t actually full inclusion at the moment, and would have preferred “growing inclusion of …” instead.  I can see that (and I think that speaks to Steve Schuh’s concerns in the comments to an earlier blog post on places in Canada  where we’re still not all included), but Synod was clearly in the process of realising this statement as a message it had for the whole church, and didn’t want to get involved with tweaking a pretty good text.

Eventually people all speaking for the motion were finished going to the microphones, and we were ready to vote.  By my count, there were zero contrary votes in the bishops, and six contrary votes in the house of clergy+laity (some, probably all, those who felt it didn’t go far enough.)

Then came the C motions – two, one talking about moratoria, and one about generous interpretations.  The mover of the “lets have moratoria” motion, Vicars (last name unremembered, dean of Fredericton) said that he was prepared to withdraw his motion if the other sexuality motions were also withdrawn.  Now that, and what else I’d heard him, and Bp Buckle of the Yukon say in favour of A115 and the statement, is proof positive that the Holy Spirit has indeed been active in our midst recently.  That offer was very gracious, and after a short caucus (to which time delay synod gave a loud YES in assent) the two were withdrawn.  Debate on those could have gotten messy, but didn’t have the chance.  And I think Synod was also very clear in wanting to make A115 the main and unamended statement coming from this meeting.  It is very good (and gracious on the part of the movers) that they were withdrawn.

There are two others – one requesting all dioceses to undertake study (aimed at those who haven’t done anything), and one decrying the anti-homo stuff happening in places like Africa.   The first took forEVER to pass – went through three amendments/attempts – that hyperactivity at the microphones was people needing to let off steam, after not being able to bicker about A115.

The other – C110, I think – about homo persecution – came in a bit late and will need 2/3 consent to make it to the floor.  That’s after lunch , and we’re now quite behindhand.  I’m not sure whether synod will be in a mood to do that.

Also this afternoon – the Covenant, and whether we want to do anything with it.  There’s one motion accepting it for study in the dioceses, and a second, which I think is brilliant – saying that the ACCanada will consider agreeing to the covenant only AFTER the covenant is agreed to and acted upon by the Church of England.  “You want us to sign on?  Sure, we’ll think about that, later.  You first”.  (given that it would have to pass parliament in Westminster too, I don’t think it ever will).  All that in 75min agenda time, ha-ha-ha.

Then at 545 this evening, the Integrity eucharist.  I have high hopes.  join us in prayer!

now, back to the plenary hall for the covenant.

Chris
relieved and tired and happy.  This is licence for local option.

Written by Chris

June 10th, 2010 at 10:07 am

Posted in General Synod

Sex on Wednesday part 2 / Sexuality Discernment statement

without comments

On Wednesday 2010 06 09, the dialogue groups met again for 90min, and responded to the feedback read out on the previous evening – that feedback being a collation of the dialogue sessions on Monday. The discussions were again summarised by rapporteurs, and the pooled discussion data was used to produce the statement reproduced below. This Sexuality Discernment statement was read to Synod by the Prolocutor. This entire discussion/ discernment process is one agreed to by Council of General Synod months ago.

There was no discussion on the floor of synod on the evening of Wednesday, but rather General Synod members were given hard copy to read and reflect on overnight. It will be discussed (probably in some motion form) on Thursday. It’s reproduced immediately below, errors in transcription are mine. Further comments by Chris in a subsequent blog post.

== == == == ==

[transcribed by Chris Ambidge 2010 06 09 – electronic version not yet available on the church website]

General Synod 2010
Sexuality Discernment 9 June 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 worlds 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 process 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 recognise 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 for endorsement, 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 peoples’ 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.

== end ==

Written by Chris

June 9th, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Posted in General Synod

Reactions to the Sexuality Discernment statement

with 2 comments

The 9 June Sexuality Discernment statement was arrived at as the result of a process outlined and approved of by CoGS.  There will be a motion brought forth tomorrow (er, today) Thursday 10 to accept the Sexuality Discernment statement (as an appendix to the motion, so the statement itself is not susceptible to wordsmithing), or receive it and commend it to the church, or some other similarly anodyne wording.  Since it comes as a CoGS document, it will be an A-motion.  Other motions about sexuality have gone in(*), but as coming from GS members they will be C-motions and will be considered afterwards.

(*)the motions committee was sitting late into the night.  I wouldn’t have their job for all the tea in china)

I believe that the pending C motions are along the lines of a) commending greatest possible pastoral generosity (translation: allow blessings as “pastoral necessities” without writing out permissive theologically-based canons), b) urging that the three moratoria (on homo blessings, on consecration of partnered gay bishops, and on cross-border shopping, er, interventions by one primate into another national church) be observed rigorously, c) a motion deploring abuse of homos in Malawi, Uganda etc, and d) [I've forgotten what d was] – oh right (he typed later)  I think it’s calling on dioceses who haven’t done homework/ study on homos in the church in their diocese to get busy, those who have, to keep working at it.

the real fighting will come over

i) accepting the A-motion, commending the statement (or however it is phrased) to the church.

ii) C-motions a) and b) – do they come in sequence? which order?  would passage of one rule the other out of order?

Do we collectively want to leave the statement as bland as it is standing there?  If so, we’d be providing ++Fred with deniability (how plausible remains to be seen) with the international people.  “My synod hasn’t said anything definitive. What dioceses do, they do – but I don’t have any control [it's true, he doesn't] over individual dioceses”"

Do we want to push the statement a little further?  a) makes local option even more obvious than it is in the statement.  b) shuts local option down completely.  Moratoria were in the 2008 House of Bishops statement, though it was also pretty clear from that same statement that some dioceses were saying their commitment to moratoria was until the end of this synod only.  But the 9 June statement mentions moratoria not at all – so a b) motion calling for them would not be out-of-order if we accept the 9 June statement as-is.

motions c) and d) would probably pass with little opposition.

It’ll be interesting.  There is essentially 3hr Thursday morning allowed for sexuality motions.

there may be attrition and/or blood on the floor.  my spies tell me one or more conservative bishops are prepared to walk “and take my diocese with me” if moratoria are not nailed down.  The cynics would consider that like the death of Calvin Coolidge in the Dorothy Parker version:  if they went, “How could they tell?”

I was not pleased when I heard it at first, but I think there was enough emotional freight that I wasn’t listening clearly enough to get it all.  Ron, and Peter Elliott, convinced me (just reading the text) that it is essentially calling for status quo.  Those dioceses which bless now, can / will continue.  New West, moratoria gone (well, they’re not mentioned) could expand its network of blessing parishes (seven right now, five ready to come onstream as soon as the word is given).  Toronto, Huron, Niagara etc could continue to do as they wish.  Another diocese (say NS+PEI) who aren’t blessing now could move that way.  Those who really don’t want to do it, won’t; but they wouldn’t need to trump other dioceses moving to be able to stay conservative.

My initial response was that there are some areas which remain unaccepting;  that this statement is not everything I could want, and that lack-of-progress is directly attributable to intransigence and 21 years of holding-breath-until-they-turn-blue (or at least, threatening to) has manipulated the process.  I’m much less concerned about that on re-reading.  The urban dioceses get to keep making progress, and won’t have the naysayers trumping their progress.

This statement was clearly signalled by the Primatial address six days ago, and some cynics would say it was drafted several weeks back. I don’t think that’s actually true, but it is certainly the document that the Primate could have wished for.

Most Integrity-side people are moderately pleased.  Ron said before we came that the best outcome would be no change.  Somewhat radical clergy are less thrilled, it’s not going as far as they want with their own ministry; but it certainly doesn’t shut down what they have.

That stuff above is just talking about the statement and putative motions.  Tomorrow on the debating floor – well that, as my mama would say, is where you wave yer bonnet.  The fun, the arguments, the disputes, will come about Thursday morning.

Then in the afternoon, we get to vote on the Covenant, tra-la.  And after THAT, the Integrity eucharist, 5:45 Atlantic time.  Fasten your seatbelts, its gonna be a bumpy ride.

and I should also get to bed to recharge batteries; it’s 0145 Atlantic.

Chris

Written by Chris

June 9th, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Posted in General Synod

Sex on Wednesday, part 1 this morning

without comments

It’s Wednesday, so we get sex not once but twice, lucky us. This morning we were in our discussion groups again, having had the summation document in our hands overnight. Same procedure, going around the circle in the “is there anything to add” mode. Notes were taken, they will be collated and a summary presented to us this evening so we can soak on it overnight. Resolutions will undoubtedly appear tomorrow, the last full day of work.
My group again had reasonable discussion, it was polite, no voices were raised, no tears, no overt rudeness; but we were certainly not all of one accord (with two clergy and a bishop from Council of the North dioceses, and opinions as you would expect). There were three who passed and so I have no idea their actual opinions; the rest of us (19, not counting the rapporteur) want some form of blessing. One side wants acknowledgements of (and adherence to) moratoria; the other side want local option in some form. It was clear that those from dioceses who have moved are not prepared to move back. While one or two were concerned about opinions beyond our borders, it was also clear that we felt the Canadian church needs to have as first (not only, but definitely primary) concern the sheep of its own flock, and what is best for them.
There was an accounting of the amount of time spent on this, and it being time to do SOMEthing – as the bishop said, he had been a member of the House of Bishops since the early 90s, and it has never NOT been on their meeting agendas. (As one who has been at it still longer, I can attest that the church as a whole has been “at it” for more than two decades.) Some (?most?) see that as too long – it’s over a generation. The First Nations priest spoke of the Indian Act only giving them the vote 44yr ago “this is nothing”. Well, I wasn’t about to get into the comparative-oppressions game, which never gets anywhere. What I do say is that I realise that God moves in her own time (Kairos), the rest of us live in Chronos, and we’re not getting any younger; I’m not about to concede prolonging the process. I suspect I’m far from alone on that – there is a sense of “oh fer hevvingsakes, we have to do SOMEthing” here.
There’s also a much less confrontational ethos and atmosphere than there was in Winnipeg in 2007; less of a competitive, nail-yer-colours-to-the-mast feeling and a more prepared to listen sense. Maybe part of it is that the really upset ones have since 07 left, picked up their marbles and gone home (or at least, elsewhere in the vineyard), so there’s less by way of troublemakers.
Other groups seem to have gone well. We’ll see.
We’ll see how it goes. Back to work early (1330, not 1400). Yr scribe presided at Morning Prayers at 0845 – it went very smoothly (Huron College training comes to the fore); I’d never worked with a screen and reading off the monitor (not quite a teleprompter) – but it was really quite easy.

Written by Chris

June 9th, 2010 at 9:23 am

Posted in General Synod

tuesday reporting back

without comments

We heard a summary of those read today (and were given paper copies – but I haven’t seen electronic versions thereof on the website yet).  The summary has the usual breadth of opinion, but I’m not discouraged, I am getting a sense of listening to one another, and a less confrontational feel to the synod.  This is congruent with the sense of the Primate in his primatial address.

I spent some time transcribing the feedback summary, and it is the post next to this.  Anglican Journal did some reporting on this step, and it’s available online here:

http://www.anglicanjournal.com/nc/news-items/article/talking-about-sex-9208.html

Tomorrow (er, today Wednesday) we have more group work just before lunch, with this feedback in hand.  The comments there will again be collated and we should be hearing about that Wednesday evening.  Resolutions if any will be Thursday.

busy busy busy!

Chris, off to bed now

Written by Chris

June 8th, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Posted in General Synod

tuesday dialogue feedback

with 3 comments

This summary of the comments made in the 15 concurrent discussion groups on Monday 7 June was read by the Prolocutor to Synod members just  before lunch on Tuesday 8 June, and paper copies distributed.  I can’t find an electronic version, so this is my transcription of that feedback document.

= = = = = = = = =

Working Document – Sexuality Discernment
Dialogue Feedback 1 – 8 June 2010

CONCERNS

Some very concerned with legislative (prescriptive) action at this time, preferring a descriptive statement of where we are (local discernment)  – supporting unity without uniformity.  Others are concerned with disunity and want us to take decisive action at the national level (national discernment)

Members have a strong concern with directional language (such as “moving forward” or “going ahead”) it is extremely unhelpful in the dialogue at this point and every attempt should be made to avoid using it.

REQUESTS

  • We want to hold our common life together
  • We do not want anyone forced into a position they cannot live with

IF dioceses were to extend the practice of locally determined generous pastoral care, there will need to be careful and robust qualifications in place:

  • The response meets the missional context of the diocese (eg First Nations, urban, rural)
  • There will be no imposition of either conversation or action on or within any diocese
  • There will be accountability expressed through continuing dialogue within Canada and the wider Anglican Communion.
  • This would include any diocese that makes a decision through its synod to act, either to offer blessings or not to offer them

If we as a national church acknowledge the existence of locally discerned options, there will need to be careful and robust understanding of what this actually means and the implications for our relationships – diocese to diocese and to the wider communion.

There are particular requests for theological study; for further work on specific pastoral situations (such as clergy in same gendered marriages); on marriage and blessings

Some are requesting changes to the marriage canon to recognise same-gendered relationships.  Some are requesting that dioceses that have agreed to bless same gendered relationships or marriages cease to do so.

For some there is a strong desire for clarity with respect to the moratoria and its ongoing status.  Many have indicated they are waiting on GS2010 for guidance regarding continued discernment, decision and action in their own context.

Overall there is a growing sense of discernment.  People found the community building helpful and are discerning a deeper sense of dialogue guiding us rather than a battle to win position.  “I have already made up my mind on the issue.  My challenge now is to be able to listen to others who have a different opinion on the issue.  And to be patient as the Spirit works in and through us towards some sort of resolution whatever it may be.”

There is a strong sense of relief that these conversations are respectful – allowing members to both speak and be heard together.  Members experience this as very positive and hopeful compared to the last General Synod.

COMMENTS ON THE GROUPS

The average group size was 19 members. [They were made up of three bible study groups, usually 8 each, though some were smaller.  Some members reported that they chose not to participate; they had already talked enough]

For some participants the discussion did not feel like a safe experience.  These are conversations that have deep emotional connections for us, and it is widely recognised among Synod members that for many, this is a painful subject and there is a lot at stake.

There is a strong sense of fatigue and weariness when it comes to this discussion AND a strong sense that, despite this, something must, at this time be said.

AFFIRMATIONS AND VALUES

  • The protection of our common life.  We have a desire to walk together – to find a way to continue to be in community despite our differences while we continue to find our way with these issues.
  • There is a strong sense of needing to get unstuck – to do or say something – but nothing that would provoke the wanton breaking of relationships.  Many are deeply frustrated with the time we spend on this issue and number of years the conversation has been going on – others are more patient – but there is a sense that regardless of this, we need to take some sort of step.  This is a paradox and we recognise this is where we are.
  • There is a strong concern that people NOT be forced into any action they cannot in good conscience, live with.
  • Members experience a tension between striving for the deepest pastoral response possible without impairing communion and need to care for the missional and pastoral context of the Canadian church.  Again we recognise this as a paradox.
  • There is a strong call for continuing the theological study and dialogue that people are now beginning to experience.  There is a growing, shared sense of being part of an on-going theological discernment that is helping us all to grow.  “At another time my ire would have been up by what you just said.  Now I realize I need to do more theological work.”
  • When we use the word “inclusive” to describe our church’s missional and pastoral context it now represents, and is being claimed by, a wider range of voices, not just those supporting same-gendered blessings
  • We clearly heard aboriginal voices in the process who were able to share something of the distinction of their contexts and identify issues that are more pressing in their communities.

== == ==

Transcribed from hard copy by Chris Ambidge 2010 06 09, electronic copy not being available

Written by Chris

June 8th, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Posted in General Synod