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Dioceses, provinces urged to discuss marriage motion.

Council of General Synod (CoGS) is asking leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada to encourage discussion, within provinces and dioceses, of the same-sex marriage amendment now awaiting its second reading at General Synod 2019.

A resolution approved by CoGS November 12 requests the primate as well as the prolocutor of the national church "to communicate with the Metropolitans and Provincial Prolocutors, and diocesan bishops and synods to encourage full consideration of the matter be given prior to General Synod 2019."

The resolution arose out of discussion the previous day on the marriage canon. Members were asked by Archdeacon Lynne McNaughton, chair of CoGS working group on the canon, to gather in table groups by their ecclesiastical provinces and write down any questions they had about either the resolution to change the canon or the process of discussing the resolution that the dioceses and provinces are to undertake before its second reading. The working group, she said, would compile answers to their questions in a "fact sheet" to be given to provinces, dioceses and members of General Synod 2019.

In July 2016, a resolution to amend the marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriages passed its first reading at General Synod. According to the Anglican Church of Canada's Declaration of Principles, changes to canons dealing with doctrine--such as the marriage canon, for example--must be "referred for consideration to diocesan and provincial synods, following the first approval of the General Synod."

One question raised by the table group of the province of Canada was whether there was "a mechanism for accountability to ensure that the dioceses and provinces are being faithful to the call to consider the marriage canon amendment"; another asked how the status of their considerations of it was to be shared with the rest of the church.

After discussion of these and other questions, CoGS planning team co-chair Dean Peter Wall asked if the council might consider a resolution about discussion of the marriage canon resolution in the provinces. The resolution was later presented by the Rev. David Burrows (province of Canada), with a clause calling for a report-back by November 2018 added. The resolution was further amended to include dioceses as well as provinces, and was then adopted by consensus.

In their provincial table groups on November 11, CoGS members raised questions about the procedure for the marriage canon amendment's second reading. They asked, for example, whether the resolution could be amended, and what would happen if it is tabled at General Synod 2019.

In response, Chancellor Canon (lay) David Jones replied that the resolution can be amended, and that such amendments would require a simple majority to be approved (unlike the resolution itself, which will require a two-thirds majority in the three Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity). General Synod could also vote to table the motion, which means postponing it to later in the session; however, Jones added, a variant of tabling is to postpone it indefinitely or to the next General Synod. In this case, he said, the resolution would effectively fail, since it needs to be approved by two successive General Synods in order to pass.

A second session on the marriage canon, also led by McNaughton, was meant to instruct members on how they might conduct "respectful conversation" on the controversial resolution.

McNaughton recommended a number of practices, all based on the idea of seeing the goal of conversation as understanding rather than changing another person's mind.

Tali Folkins


Caption: * Council of General Synod members reflect on "respectful conversation" practices during a discussion on the marriage canon November 12.


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Author:Folkins, Tali
Publication:Anglican Journal
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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