Below is a brief outline of the significant resolutions at the ACC GS07, together with comment. I’ll produce a further summary shortly to outline my sense of where we are now as a Church.
20th June 2007
Merger of Partners in Mission & Ecojustice Committees and
Mandate of new Partners in Mission & Ecojustice Committee
PASSED with amendment
Notable in the main part for the mergers of the two committees. There was some concern that Ecojustice was regarded as mission, a concern not without merit from my point of view. The mandate was modified to include the word ‘evangelism’ – after some consultation the amendment was taken as friendly – reluctantly I think, and probably only because there was no pretext for viewing it as unfriendly.
21st June 2007
Report of the Windsor Report Response Group
Two things to note here – what was passed was not acceptance of the Windsor Report (WR), but the Canadian Report on the Windsor Report. Unsurprisingly it is long on the parts that the ACC liked, and short on the parts that it did not. An amendment strengthening the resolution to accept the WR in its entirety was defeated.
Rev Dr Steven Andrews, the most conservative of the nine candidates, was elected 156-133 over Canon Falby. A Prolocutor acts as #2 at General Synod.
22nd June 2007
Bp Fred Hiltz was elected Primate on the 5th ballot. From the beginning it was a two horse race between Bp Hiltz and Bp Matthews. Bp Hiltz was the most liberal of the candidates, whilst Bp Matthews was the most enigmatic as to her true position.
The first vote went as follows (Clergy/Laity):
Bp Hiltz: 40/57
Bp Matthews: 56/54
The fifth vote went as follows (Clergy/Laity):
Bp Hiltz: 60/81
Bp Matthews: 56/56
It was notable that the laity lead the clergy in the election of Bp Hiltz.
23rd June 2007
Canon Falby, a liberal candidate, was elected. A Deputy Prolocutor acts as #3 at General Synod.
St. Michael Report
PASSED with minor amendment
The resolution on St Michael Report, which says this: ‘That this General Synod accept the conclusion of the Primate’s Theological Commission’s St. Michael Report that the blessing of same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine, but is not core doctrine in the sense of being credal.’ was passed with the amendment ‘in the sense of being creedal’.
Voting Requirement for Resolutions A186 and A187
This resolution was a CoGS motion that set the voting requirement to 60% for the Same Sex Blessings resolutions. The normal requirement is either a simple 50%+1 or 2/3 over two successive synods. An amendment to strengthen 60% to 2/3 over two successive general synods was defeated. The motion itself also defeated, hence we were back to the lower bar of 50%+1.
24th June 2007
Blessing of Same Sex Unions – Core Doctrine of ACC
PASSED with minor amendment
The full text read as follows: ‘That this General Synod resolves that the blessing of same-sex unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine (in the sense of being creedal) of The Anglican Church of Canada.’ A motion to postpone for proper theological thinking was narrowly defeated, then the motion itself narrowly passed:
Clergy/Laity 152 / 97 Passed
Bishops 21/19 Passed
Blessing of Same Sex Unions
An amendment was put forward changing this from ‘blessing same sex unions’ to ‘blessing civil same sex marriage’. This failed, though it is notable how it was pushed in light of previous attempt to draw a distinction between ‘blessings’ and ‘marriage’. There is no longer any attempt to divide and conquer in this regard – it was always about marriage, and now that is clear.
The final motion read:
That this General Synod affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod,
a) with the concurrence of the diocesan bishop, and
b) in a manner than respects the conscience of the incumbent and the will of the parish,
to authorise the blessing of committed same sex unions.
The vote went as follows:
Laity 78 / 59 Passed
Clergy 63 / 53 Passed
Bishops 19 / 21 Failed
25th June 2007
Revision of Canon 21 on Marriage
This read as follows: ‘That this General Synod request the Council of General Synod to consider a revision of Canon 21 (On Marriage) including theological rationale to allow marriage of all legally qualified persons and to report back to General Synod 2010’. All legally qualified people in Canada includes both heterosexual and homosexual unions.
This passed surprisingly easy, even though it’s only a motion for consideration (i.e. any substantive motion would have to pass 2010 and 2013), I thought there would be objections raised. It may have been that on the final day people were tired and did not want to fight on a motion that had no substantive content.
House of Bishops Statement on Pastoral Care of Same-Sex Couples
The pertinent part of the pastoral response is as follows:
We are committed, as bishops in Canada, to develop the most generous pastoral response possible within the current teaching of the church. We offer the following examples of possible pastoral responses:
When a civilly married gay or lesbian couple seeks our church’s reception of their civil marriage and asks their parish’s recognition, it may be possible, with their bishop’s knowledge and permission, to celebrate a Eucharist with the couple, including appropriate intercessory prayers, but not including a nuptial blessing.
When a gay or lesbian married or committed couple seeks to hold a reception or celebration in a church for their life in Christ, again intercessory prayers for their mutual fidelity, the deepening of their discipleship and for their baptismal ministry may be offered, not including the exchange of vows and/or a nuptial blessing.
My question is whether this assumes the answer to the question of ‘a gay or lesbian married or committed couple’ in a pastoral form? I.e., if it was assumed that these relationships were contrary to Gods purposes then the pastoral response would take different form.
ACC-13 Resolution 4
The intent of this motion was to deny the Primates membership in the ACC, and was passed quite easily. Again, perhaps last day fatigue setting in.
The Primates are not known for being favourable to the ACC ‘new thing’, and as such the ACC as a whole is not favourable to the Primates. Hence, the resolution refusing to ratify their membership in the ACC (2/3 of provinces have to ratify for the change in membership to be effective).
Declaration of Principles and Constitution – Amending Procedures
Governance – Procedures for enactment of Canons and amendment of the Declaration of Principles, the Constitution, and the Canons
Sounds boring, but the sting in the tail was this bit:
The Solemn Declaration of the Declaration of Principles belongs in a particular historic context and therefore cannot be altered or amended.
The Solemn Declaration is the founding document of the Anglican Church of Canada, and the concern raised is that the ‘historic context’ mentioned was something akin to the historic context of the Magna Carta – i.e. irrelevant for us in this day and age.
Both motions were referred, i.e. sent back to CoGS for further work. As such, nothing can change before 2013.
Governance – Consultation with Dioceses
This is where General Synod attempts to begin the process of removing provinces and provincial synods. This passed, but I can’t think it’s going to go down well with provinces. Indeed, I think provincial synods have the power to dissolve General Synod, which may be a better outcome!
Principles for Revision of Common Worship Texts
PASSED with amendment
Something akin to allowing the wolves charge of the sheep-pen – allowing the Faith, Worship and Ministry Committee room to look at revising the Book of Common Prayer amongst others. The amendment changed ‘common worship texts revision’ to ‘revision of our contemporary language worship text and the creation of fresh worship expressions’ which should protect the BCP.
Support for Partners in the Middle East
PASSED with amendment
A rather one-sided resolution that was balanced a bit by the following amendment:
‘Solidarity with Anglicans and other Christians in Palestine in their struggle for justice and peace ‘ changed to ‘Solidarity with Anglicans and other Christians in the province of the Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East in their struggle for Justice and Peace’
PASSED with amendment
Debate on this one split pretty much on ‘party’ lines, conservative in favour of a wide-ranging study, liberals against. Motion was amended (looking at sexuality in a much wider context, including divorce, adultery, fornication etc) and carried eventually.
Suffers a bit from oh-no-not-another-study syndrome, however if it is done well it might actually help – i.e. we can get over the’ feelings and experiences’ method and onto some more solid ground.
One other notable change was the CoGS (executive committee meeting between General Synods) membership. Conservative members move from 2 out of the approximately 50 to perhaps 15 out of 50.
One last note: I don’t like the labels ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ to describe the different camps in the Church. Neither however do I like any of the other labels either, so these will have to do until somebody can come up with something better!