Respecting our Differences
General Synod 2004 & the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions



Anglican Church of Canada: Documents and Resources [back to top]

Resolution A134: Blessing of Same-Sex Unions.

Resolution A135. Blessing of Same-Sex Unons - Resources.

A background paper on the same-sex blessings motion before General Synod, 2004, Eric Beresford, Ethics and Interfaith Relations Consultant, General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. "The motion being sent to General Synod does not address the substantive issues around the blessing of same sex unions. Nor does it attempt to come to some final statement of the church's view about the blessing of same sex unions. Indeed, it frankly acknowledges disagreement in the life of the church, yet commits us to strive for the greatest possible degree of unity. This is the starting point for what is essentially a procedural motion which sets forward ways of living with disagreement and calls for further study."

Report of the Primate’s Task Force on Adequate / Alternative Episcopal Oversight for Dissenting Minorities. Contrary to its title, this report addresses only the episcopal oversight and pastoral care of traditional dissenting minorities.  Its several helpful appendices document the Church’s historical opposition to same-sex blessings and issues related to jurisdiction.  

General Synod Task Force on Jurisdiction (2002).   “While the Task Force concludes that formal jurisdiction over doctrine and discipline rests with the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, in practice this jurisdiction has been exercised with a careful circumspection and with due regard to local expression.  In a country as diverse as Canada with a wide variety of settings in which the Church is called to ministry, this flexibility of jurisdiction has served the Church well and can continue to do so.”

Report of the Legal and Canonical Commission, Linda Barry-Hollowell, George E.H. Cadman, Stephen J. Toope (.pdf).  As part of New Westminster’s Dialogue process, the standing Commission offered its opinion that “as a matter of the relevant canons, the traditional jus liturgicum of the diocesan bishop, and of the customs of the Anglican Church of Canada”, the authority to authorize a rite of blessing for same-sex unions falls within the jurisdiction of the local bishop.

Diocese of New Westminster.  A dedicated diocesan site for information on same-sex blessings, a chronology of the events in New Westminster, and current news.  Resources from the Dialogue on Same-Sex Unions are available in the archive.

Diocese of Ottawa.  Information from the diocesan Task Force on the Blessing of Same Sex Unions, with links to very helpful dialogue and study resources.

Diocese of Toronto. Links to information on the Same-Sex Consultations (Spring 2004) in preparation for a special diocesan synod and vote on blessing same-sex unions.

Authority, Unity and Reconciliation within the Anglican Communion: [back to top]

Message from the Metropolitans of the Anglican Church of Canada (October 9, 2003).  “Impaired communion is not a threat one part of the Anglican Communion can impose on another.  Impaired communion is a fact with which we live.  Women priests and bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada are not welcome to exercise their offices in many parts of the Communion.  We have found ways to live together in the Body of Christ under those constraints.  To say that we cannot similarly live together in light of different practices with respect to same-sex relationships simply is not true.  The unwillingness of some to live in communion ought not to be interpreted as a necessity but rather as a choice they make.”

The Structures of Unity, Rowan Williams.  Archbishop Williams reflects on the nature of accountability and unity in a church where the matters that define theological unity are themselves up for debate.  “I don’t expect the next few years to be anything other than messy as far as all this is concerned. The question is not whether we can avoid mess, but whether we can hang on to common convictions about divine grace and initiative.”

What is “To Be in Communion”? Daniel J. Webster.  Is there one form of Anglicanism, or are there many?  Has “like-mindedness” become our point of reference?  These questions are at the heart of the current debate, according to Daniel Webster, on what it means for Anglicans to be in “communion” with one another.

What Price Unity?, Robin Eames.  The Senior Primate of the Anglican Communion observes:  “Laws apart, opinions apart, and sensitivities apart, diversity of culture, practice and life-styles have been and will most likely continue to be the experience of a world family such as the Anglican Communion.  Perhaps the main question arising for us at this time is simply: How do we live with and how do we understand difference?”

The Virginia Report, Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission (1997).  Statement on the development of structures of authority and unity in the Anglican Communion.

New Commandment Task Force, A series of ECUSA consultations promoting reconciliation, based not on the expectation of finding agreement on issues of sexuality but in the hope of discovering ways to live together in Christ in spite of disagreements.  Includes helpful discussion of the Gamaliel principle and a proposal for local option by congregation rather than diocese.

Reconciliation Revisited, A. Theodore Mollege Jr. An analysis and critique of Brian Cox The Episcopal Church Reconciliation Initiative,” a proposal for conflict resolution.

The Eames Monitoring Group Report (1997).  At Lambeth 1988, “The bishops found themselves facing the imminent possibility of one of the Provinces ordaining a woman to the episcopate, and had to address the challenge of how to maintain the highest degree of communion with one another and how to strengthen their commitment to one another despite differences in principle and practice.”  [See IV(v). Provision for Conscientious Objection, and VII. What has this experience told us about living in communion?]

Conscience, Women’s Ordination, and the Episcopal Church.  Narrative from “Equally Applicable.”  Historical perspective on conscience clauses, episcopal visitors, and impaired communion.

Ecumenical and Inter-Faith Issues: [back to top]

Religious Groups’ Policies on Homosexuality. Dozens of essays describing the current policies, beliefs and practices of various faith groups about homosexuality, maintained by the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance.

Why Lutherans Can’t Talk About Sexuality. Thomas D. Pearson.  “If neither a textual ethics, nor a morality grounded in love, nor natural law theory, can supply a basis for our conversation about sexuality in the ELCA, what other resources do we have available to us?  There is not much, I’m afraid.  But discuss sexuality we will, and must.”  See also:  Studies on Homosexuality and the Church (ELCIC), Erwin Buck (.pdf).   

Princeton Lecture:  On Evangelical Faith and Homosexuality, Ralph Blair.  “Of all Christians, Evangelicals should have the least difficulty integrating at least some expression of homosexuality with Christian faith.”  Why is that often not the case?  “Perhaps it’s because they tend to take neither sin nor the evangel as seriously as they say they do.”

What is an Evangelical?, Roy Clements.  “There seems to be a determined attempt, at least by some within the evangelical camp, so to embed a particular [negative] view of homosexuality within the evangelical identity that there is no room left for dissenters...  It seems, therefore, an appropriate moment to ask:  What is an evangelical?

Catholicism, Homosexuality and Dignity, Daniel A. Helminiak (1996).  Responses to frequently asked questions about being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender and Catholic.  The author summaries official Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality … then offers hope.

Like the Wideness of the Sea, Lewis B. Smedes.  Writing within the Reformed tradition, a leading ethicist asks:

  1. Is a partnership of two homosexual persons morally similar – in relevant ways – to the marriage of divorced and remarried heterosexual people?
  2. Does the Bible’s word about homosexuals lay down a rule for excluding partnered Christian homosexuals from the church’s fellowship?
  3. Or does it witness to God’s original intention for sexual orientation without laying down abiding rules for the church?

Homosexuality and the Bible: A Case Study in the Use of the Bible for Ethics, Loren L. Johns.  Examines the biblical arguments regarding homosexuality and their contentious debate within the Mennonite tradition. 

AXIOS: Eastern & Orthodox Christian Gay Men and Women,  AXIOS is a religious support and social group for GLBTQ Eastern and Orthodox Christians of all rites and backgrounds. 

Gayness and God, StevenGreenberg. Rabbi Greenbergdiscusses halachic teachings regarding homosexuality, and offers a path to possible new halachic strategies that will permit Orthodox Judaism to respond positively to gay people.”

Islamic Doctrine on Gays, Paul Varnell.   “Historically, Islamic culture (or better, cultures) seem to present two different faces toward homosexuality:  a deeply hostile, punitive aspect rooted in religious texts and edicts, and a more benign aspect ranging from bemused tolerance to open approval and celebration in literature.  The fundamentalist strain is on the upswing at the moment, but it has not always been so.”

Gay and Lesbian WWW Links – Denominational Resources.

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