Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Anglican Parish to Defy Ban on Gay Weddings

Parish Votes to Defy Ban on Gay Marriage

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: January 14, 2008 - 5:00 pm ET
(Toronto, Ontario) One of the oldest Anglican parishes in North America has become the first to approve holding weddings for same-sex couples. The vote by parishioners of Toronto's Church of the Holy Trinity poses a direct challenge to the leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, which tonight begins its annual synod in Winnipeg.
The resolution says that the parish will "continue to exercise its conscience and bless same-sex unions and marry same-sex couples."
Holy Trinity, in the heart of Toronto, has a long tradition of rocking the Anglican boat. It was one of the first to reach out to the homeless. In the 1960s it became a refuge for American draft dodgers and in the late '60s welcomed gay groups to meet in the church.
In 2003, shortly after same-sex marriage became legal in Ontario Ted Scott the retired primate of the Anglican Church of Canada blessed the union of gay activists Alison Kemper and Joyce Barnett following their marriage at Toronto city hall.
While three dioceses have voted to allow priests to conduct blessing ceremonies over the past 12 months, Holy Trinity goes far beyond that by endorsing gay marriage. And, unlike the four, Holy Trinity does not seek the permission of its bishop.
The dioceses of Niagara, Ottawa and Montreal all voted to approve blessing ceremonies. So far only the bishop of Niagara has given his approval. (story) In 2002 the diocese of New Westminster, in British Columbia, became the first to give the OK to same-sex blessings.
When the Anglican Church general synod begins Monday night it will have a resolution to consider that basically would allow individual congregations to decide for themselves whether or not to bless gay marriages, but not to perform actual wedding ceremonies.
A conservative group of parishes across the country has warned that if the measure passes they will break away.
Last week the leader of Canada's Anglicans sent a letter to his primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion explaining the developments around the blessing of same-sex unions.
In the letter Archbishop Fred Hiltz said that "It is important to note that the Anglican Church of Canada has not altered its doctrine of marriage as outlined in our prayer books and canons (church laws)."
Hiltz, however, put the situation in context, writing that Canadian Anglicans "live in a country where the federal government in 2005 approved legislation that allows the marriage of same-gender couples."
The issue of gays in the worldwide Church has grown increasingly more intense since the ordination of Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
Conservatives in the Church, primarily in Africa, have threatened a schism if the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church in Canada do not bar gay clergy and promise to refrain from gay union blessings.
©365Gay.com 2008

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