Media reports that it’s the beginning of the end for the Anglican Church world-wide are somewhat exaggerated.
For sure, there is disagreement regarding the definition of marriage. The Episcopal Church (TEC) of the USA changed its Canon on Marriage to say marriage is between a man and a woman and it allows for same-sex marriage. This decision was a major topic at a recent meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Church. Primates are the head Archbishops. They were invited together by Justine Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Primate of Canada is Archbishop Fred Hiltz, formerly the Bishop of our diocese and a great friend of this parish. Fred attended the meeting.
A majority of Primates agreed to temporarily restrict the Episcopal Church from participating in the Anglican Communion’s decision-making processes. For a period of three years they are not to represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, they should not be appointed or elected to internal standing committees and are not to take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.
It should also be noted that the Anglican Church of Canada will deal with a similar proposed change to our Canon on Marriage at General Synod in July 2016. Maybe we will be next to endure these kinds of sanctions.
On a hopeful note, the Primates also said that they have a unanimous desire to walk together. As Fred said in a recent statement, the Primates remain committed, “even in the face of deep differences of theological conviction concerning same-sex marriage — to walk together and not apart.” There are some who would say that the North American Churches should just go it alone. But, we can’t help our gay brothers and sisters in countries where being gay is a crime, and in some places punishable by death if we’re not at the table.
I say we stay at the table until we are locked out altogether. I suspect that love and justice will win before that happens.