An unofficial digest of the proceedings of the 37 th Session of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada
Wednesday, June 2, 2004
Andrew Ignatieff, executive director, Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, introduced several presenters.
Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on HIV/AIDS, addressed the members of General Synod on the subject of what he called “the death spiral in southern Africa,” brought about by the spread of the AIDS pandemic.
He noted that churches can play a powerful role in helping to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of the virus. Mr. Lewis gave the example of the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church who said that he had 350,000 priests who saw much of the country’s population of 70 million once a week but needed training to help spread the word about AIDS.
He said that the religious groups of Africa had been slow to come onside but that Christian and Moslem leaders are now talking about what he called “a ferocious assault on humankind,” one that is killing enough people that “some countries may cease to function.” He pointed out that there are already one million orphans in Ethiopia.
“I know that you have many issues to deal with within the church but I beg you to allow the time and energy to add the struggles that occur elsewhere,” he said. In response to a question, he suggested that the General Synod express its solidarity with the churches in Africa.
Susie Henderson, PWRDF staff, talked about responses the church can make to the crisis caused by AIDS and introduced a video, A Generation Without AIDS.
Archdeacon Tai Tuatagaloa-Matalavea, the Anglican observer at the UN, talked about training provided for priests by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa.
Ron Chaplin, Diocese of Ottawa, spoke about the AIDS epidemic in Canada and how attitudes had changed, or not, since he learned he was HIV-positive in 1985 and suggested there is still room for improvement.
Dean Peter Elliott, Diocese of New Westminster, suggested four ways members can help: prayer and consciousness raising, education, political advocacy, and fundraising.
A150 Revised Partnership for Life support
To support the Partnership for Life campaign of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund by expressing its concerns to the federal government. Carried unanimously.
A152 Revised HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination
To stand with people living with AIDS and to urge the church to help eradicate the stigma associated with the disease. Carried.
In appreciation, cheques were presented by the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior and the Diocese of Fredericton to the Stephen Lewis Foundation and by the Parish of Cherry Valley, Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, to PWRDF.
4. Anglican observer report
Archdeacon Tai Tuatagaloa-Matalavea reported on her work representing 75 million Anglicans from 164 countries at the United Nations. The native of Samoa described her work in the area of womens’ rights and sustainable development, and thanked the Anglican Church of Canada for its commitment to international development.
5. Financial Management and Development Committee report
Rob Dickson, chair of the committee, provided background on the financial pressures of the last triennium.
Treasurer Jim Cullen reported that during 2003, revenue declined from $11.3 million to $10.2 million. General Synod ran a deficit of $378,882, with $370,253 attributable to losses at the Anglican Book Centre.
He anticipated that the ABC will become profitable again this year but noted that General Synod should not rely on the ABC as a source of income.
Mr. Cullen said that $300,000 has been cut from the 2004 national budget but that some were one-time cuts that will be restored in 2005.
Mr. Dickson said that 2005 revenue is anticipated at this point to be about the same as 2004 and could result in a deficit of $650,000.
As a result, dioceses will be encouraged to restore, maintain or increase their proportional giving, while General Synod works hard at raising more money by telling its story and monitoring expenses, he said.
6. Nominating committee report on committee membership
The Very Rev. Louise Peters, Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior, presented the Nominating Committee’s preliminary report on the membership of the committees of the Council of General Synod, which Synod received.
General Synod passed the following resolutions:
A191 Audited financial statements
To accept the audited financial statements of the General Synod for 2003.
A192 Appointment of auditors
To appoint Ernst and Young as auditors for 2004.
General Synod deferred voting on the following resolution:
A077 Remarriage of divorced persons: marriage commissions
To amend Canon XXI, Marriage Commissions, to update the process of pastoral care for divorced persons wishing to remarry by eliminating marriage commissions, amended to permit their retention if so wished by individual dioceses.
No Debate List
The following resolutions were passed without debate:
A110 General Synod’s investment powers
To ask Parliament to update legislation dating from 1921 governing the Anglican church to allow investment in accordance with modern rules.
A153 .7% development goal
To affirm the UN’s development goal.
A156 Humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect
To commend the work of Project Ploughshares.
A158 Environmental audit
To thank groups for creating environmental audit resources and to commend them for study.
A159 Kyoto Accord
To continue the work of reducing greenhouse gases.
A172 Inclusion in the calendar
To add Emily Ayckbown, founder of the Community of the Sisters of the Church, to the calendar of the Book of Alternative Services.
A173 Inclusion in the calendar
To add the Rev. Florence Li Tim Oi, first female Anglican priest, ordained 1944, to the calendar of the Book of Alternative Services.
8. Anti-Racism Working Group report
Canon Murray Still, Bishop Susan Moxley and Canon Godfrey Mawejje, members of the Anti-Racism Working Group, read others’ stories of experiences of racism. Bishop Moxley recommended education, change and commitment as means of reducing racism. A charter for racial justice is being developed.
A134 Blessing of same-sex unions
For reference, the wording of the original motion follows:
Be it resolved that this General Synod:
1. Affirm that, even in the face of deeply held convictions about whether the blessing of committed same-sex unions is contrary to the doctrine and teaching of the Anglican Church of Canada, we recognize that through our baptism we are members one of another in Christ Jesus, and we commit ourselves to strive for that communion into which Christ continually calls us;
2. Affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same-sex unions;
3. Affirm the crucial value of continued respectful dialogue and study of biblical, theological, liturgical, pastoral and social aspects of human sexuality; and call upon all bishops, clergy and lay leaders to be instrumental in seeing that dialogue and study continue;
4. Affirm the principle of respect for the way in which the dialogue and study may be taking place, or might take place, in Indigenous and various other communities within our church in a manner consistent with their cultures and traditions; and
5. Affirm that the Anglican Church is a church for all the baptized and is committed to taking such actions as are necessary to maintain and serve our fellowship and unity in Christ, including provision of adequate episcopal oversight and pastoral care for all, regardless of the perspective from which they view the blessing of committed same-sex relationships.
General Synod accepted a motion to divide Resolution 134 into two parts, consisting of section 2, and sections 1, 3, 4 and 5.
General Synod defeated a motion to consider section 2 first.
General Synod accepted an amendment to add “to section 3 after the word “pastoral” the words “scientific” and “psychological” and to amend section 5 by deleting the word “including” and substituting the words “request the House of Bishops to continue its work on the.”
General Synod tabled an amendment to Resolution 134 that would add an additional section, 6, to “affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed same-sex relationships” until after a decision on section 2 had been reached.
General Synod passed a motion to amend Resolution 134 by adding to the end of section 3 the phrase, “intentionally involving gay and lesbian persons.”
General Synod defeated an amendment to the amendment to add to end of the amended section 3 the phrase, “and also to include those who identify themselves as ex-gays or lesbians.”
General Synod passed sections 1,3,4 and 5 of Resolution 134, as amended.
General Synod passed a motion to defer “consideration of section 2 until the meeting of General Synod in 2007,” to request the Primate to ask the Primate’s Theological Commission to review “whether the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine,” and to make a report to the Council of General Synod by its spring, 2006, meeting, which would then “distribute it to each province, diocese and the House of Bishops for consideration.”
General Synod defeated an amendment to ask the Primate to establish a special task force rather than asking the Primate’s Theological Commission to consider whether blessing same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine.
Members then agreed to consider the previously tabled amendment to Resolution 134 as a new motion to “affirm the integrity and sanctity of committed same-sex relationships.”
General Synod defeated a motion to defer consideration of the new motion until the 2007 meeting of General Synod.
General Synod passed a motion to adjourn the debate until the following day