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No decision yet on same-sex marriage for local Anglicans: Bishop says more consultation needed

After national conference where same-sex marriage narrowly defeated, individual dioceses allowed to make own decisions

Anglicans in this area who belong to the LGBT community and wish to be married in the church will have to wait a bit longer to find out whether or not that's going to happen.

Earlier this month, a motion to add same-sex unions to Anglican Church of Canada laws was narrowly voted down at its General Synod. 

To pass, the resolution required "yes" votes from two-thirds of each of three orders — lay, clergy and bishops.

Eighty per cent of the lay delegates voted to adopt the motion, as did 73 per cent of the clergy. But the bishops were two votes shy of what was needed to enter the proposal into law.

But at the same national gathering, the church also decided to allow individual dioceses — including the local Diocese of Algoma — to make their own determinations on the matter.

Some Anglican dioceses have already issued statements, saying they're going ahead with same-sex marriages, while others have already allowed same-sex marriage for the past three years.

Anne Germond, Bishop of the Diocese of Algoma, has issued a “pastoral letter” on the matter, which was read in all Anglican churches within the diocese Sunday.

In it Germond, who was a pastor in Sudbury for many years before being installed as bishop in 2017, said she's not going to make an executive decision on the matter herself — it will be determined by church members in the diocese.

“As your Bishop, I will not bear the weight of this decision alone,” Germond said in the July 21 letter.

“We will make a decision about same sex marriage in Algoma together, as Anglican Christians, and as members of the body of Christ.

“It may be that a special Synod is called next spring to deal with this one matter, or that we wait until the next regular Synod of our Diocese. How we determine this will be based on consultations I will be having with you over the next few months.

“I will do this in the way the Indigenous elders of South Africa make decisions — 'Indaba' — which are consultative gatherings.”

She also asked those who support same-sex marriage — especially clergy — “to be patient awhile longer” while a local decision is made.

You can read Germond's full pastoral letter online here.

We requested an interview with Germond on the matter, but she declined, saying her thoughts are outlined in the letter.

Last week, spoke to Rev. Patti Brace of Sudbury about the church's recent vote on same-sex marriage. 

A recently ordained priest who will soon take a post at a church in Nipigon, Brace identifies as a lesbian. 

She called the vote at General Synod “painful” and “gut-wrenching,” and said the youth were particularly upset by the outcome.

Speaking to before before Germond issued her statement on what would be happening locally with same-sex marriage, Brace predicted Algoma would move on the issue “slightly more slowly” than some dioceses.

“We've got a little more work to do up here,” she said. “We haven't done as much work as some of the southern dioceses yet.”

The mother of a 22-year-old adopted son who is not married herself, Brace said she's been a part of a support and advocacy ministry for LGBT members of the Anglican Church of Canada for almost 30 years.

The group, called Integrity Canada, sets up a display at each General Synod to spread the word about their cause.

In 1995, the national church affirmed the inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church, Brace said, and in 2004, it passed a statement affirming the sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships.

“It's been a long, slow haul,” she said. “One of the things that was really encouraging about all of this is at no point have we ever gone backward.”

-With files from Canadian Press