Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
29 October 2002
A Message to the Church
In the name of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting in Mississauga on October 28, 2002, issues the following statement in response to the decision of the Synod of the Diocese of New Westminster to bless same-sex unions. We are called to be one in the Body of Christ. (John 17:21) We know that on the issue of same-sex unions differing convictions are deeply held in the House of Bishops, throughout our church and beyond. The decision of New Westminster has caused pain for some and joy in others. Over the past four years this Diocese undertook an extensive process of study that led them to their decision. We recognize that members of the diocese on every side of the issue have suffered pain. Eight parishes of the Diocese of New Westminster have requested alternative Episcopal oversight for themselves. Before the fracture widens we urge all involved to engage in a process of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) on the basis of the general principles passed by the Diocesan Synod in June 2002.
Although the precise terms of the conversation will be established within the Diocese we propose that the following elements should be part of it.
The conversation should be enabled by a mutually agreed to facilitator.
The process should provide 'safety' for all participants by setting at least these standards:
- Being respectful of each others' faith journey
- Listening respectfully
- Asking 'inviting' questions
- Attempting to understand from the view points of others
We request that those outside the diocese respect the integrity of this process and allow it to proceed without intervention. In recent years some dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada have made individual decisions to recognize or forbid, and in this one instance, to bless same-sex unions. We have spent much of our time at these meetings discussing our response to these situations. We are unable to speak with a unanimous voice on this issue of national concern especially with regard to the subject of homosexuality in the light of scripture. We are referring the matter of the blessing of same-sex unions to our national governing body, the General Synod (2004) for discussion and if possible, resolution. We agree that we will not make individual decisions in any additional dioceses during the interim. Until the time of resolution all bishops are asked to uphold the 1997 Guidelines of the House of Bishops on Human Sexuality. We call the church to prayer in this difficult and demanding time in our life in Christ.