Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

And on the Sixth Day a statement was created

As of 8:40 this evening, I am officially grumpy. Part of my disgruntlement comes from the content of the "Synod Statement on Human Sexuality" ( ) and part of it comes from the process, which presented the statement a mere twenty minutes before the deadline for resolutions. In my heart of hearts, I don't think this was deliberate, but geesh, couldn't we have had a little more time to sit with it?

The statement is a "keep talking" piece of work. There is no common mind (as if...!). There is an unpleasant affirmation (that I don't believe to be held by as many people as the statement implies) that we are "passionately committed to walking together, protecting our common life." When it says we "affirmed the full inclusion of gay and lesbian members in our churches," the nature of full inclusion is not defined. Tomorrow morning we begin with a motion to affirm this statement. And so I am officially grumpy. The sheaf of resolutions coming forward in the morning with regard to human sexuality should be interesting.

As a footnote to all this, and in reference to yesterday's post, Kearon was at the bar tonight. I left provision with the bartender to put a drink on my tab and let him know where I was seated, because I was prepared to ask whether the actions of this General Synod would affect the employment of Alyson Barnett-Cowan (the staff person for Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion Office). That seemed to be the tenor of the letter to the communion -- "Look what we did to the Americans: if you don't play by our rules then jobs will be lost." I guess I'll have to do it on the floor tomorrow.

But there was more to the day than that. After our morning devotions, Anthony Mancini, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Halifax greeted us (and then lectured to us) about Anglican Roman Catholic relations, making specific mention of our having to remain in the larger Anglican communion. I appreciated that he didn't speak in the coy language of diplomacy, but I really wasn't in the mood to be instructed by him.

The last part of the morning was spent in our second discussion group around human sexuality and the blessing of same-sex unions. It did not go particularly well, and we ended with an air of suspicion and hostility (largely directed at the facilitator and recorder). I heard a significant number of voices affirm some level of local option about the issue, but (as you can see from the statement that doesn't seem to be present).

After lunch, we repudiated the "doctrine of discovery" (see my earlier post). One of the more interesting speakers in favour of the motion noted that The Episcopal Church had done the same thing last year, and that in repudiating the doctrine of discovery we affirmed individual rights and dignity, giving us an ethic and vocabulary for dealing with "imperialistic and colonializing overtures" into our church life. There was an audible "....ooooooooo..." in the house.

The loveliest part of the day came from the Aboriginal Peoples of the Anglican Church. As we affirmed their place and ministry in the church, they shared with us the journey to their unique and full place in the Anglican Church of Canada. Lydia Mamakwa was welcomed as in indigenous area bishop; the various councils reported on how they were growing as part of an Anglican Indigenous Council, and presentations were made to those that had helped craft the statements and legislation that allowed them to reach this point in their history. One of the most delightful moments came when Mark Marshall (indigenous bishop), realizing that their time allocation was drawing to a close, stated that they were working at warp speed -- in their culture, it usually takes all day just to say "hello."

I am going to spend the rest of the evening reflecting on "the statement." If I can simply take the words "full inclusion," it is sufficient, but somehow or another, I don't think that language is what will endure.

Last year, our Diocese engaged in the Intentional Listening process at our Diocesan Synod. I was responsible for collating the responses to the question about what do people hope or fear about the future of the Anglican Church. The overwhelming fear was that in 20 years, we'd still be talking about how to include gays and lesbians in the life of the church.

We are well on the way to realizing those fears.

Today's weigh-in: ? I wonder how much bull-s**t weighs?


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