A115/Sexuality Discernment passes GenSynod

without comments

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.

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