A celebration of the Eucharist rich in ceremony and song opened the 2016 meeting of the general synod being held July 7-12 in Toronto, Ontario with an assembly of 350 members, ecumenical guests, observers and support staff.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada said speaking of General Synod itself: “This is the body that through its history has wrestled with numerous issues within the Church and in the world at large over which we have often found ourselves in deep disagreement. Many of the issues have centered around inclusion.” Archbishop Fred Hiltz listed the major debates that have arisen and been resolved since the General Synod of the Canadian church first met in 1893—”the ordination of women, the right of children to take the Eucharist, the remarriage of divorced persons and the place of Indigenous peoples”—before culminating with the most contentious issue of the present day: the marriage of same-sex couples.
“All who pray with and for us have an understanding of a Synod for what it truly is—an assembly of the People of God from every jurisdiction within the Church gathered to do its work under the presiding of the Holy Spirit,” said Hiltz. “Accordingly they join us in prayers that the Holy Spirit will come and hover, settle and abide with us, to grace and guide, enlighten and lead.” And that leadership was tested during this synod.
To pass, the resolution required two-thirds majority of each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops. Questions about the integrity of the voting process in which delegates narrowly rejected a resolution to allow same-sex marriage emerged Tuesday, and led to a stunning reversal of the result. Some members stood up to say their votes had not been recorded during voting late Monday. “That is an issue of concern,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz. “We cannot leave this synod with this kind of confusion.” The clergy failed to reach the two-third threshold by one vote that was apparently not counted because it was counted in the lay order. The error was discovered after delegates requested a detailed hard copy of the electronic voting records.
Archbishop Hiltz then declared that the resolution in favour of same-sex marriage had passed. The resolution still needs affirmation by the next synod in 2019 before it becomes church law. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, spoke of the need for members to prepare themselves to speak with their dioceses and parishes regarding the resolution’s impact. “As a synod, our work on this matter is not done. It is not sufficient for us to simply say, we deal with the resolution, period…we need to think, what now? What do we say when we go home?”
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