Sexuality Discernment Dialogue Feedback #1 June 8, 2010

Official document distributed at synod:

Comments on the groups

The average group size was 19 members. (Some members reported that they chose not to participate: they had talked enough.)

For some participants the discussion did not feel like a safe experience. There are conversations that have deep emotional connections for us, and it is widely recognised among Synod members that for many, this is a painful subject as there is a lot at stake.

There is a strong sense that, despite this, something must, at this time be said.

Affirmations and values

  • The protection of our common life. We have a desire to walk together – to find a way to continue to be in community despite our differences while we continue to find our way with these issues.
  • There is a strong sense of needing to get unstuck – to do or say something – but nothing that would provoke the wanton breaking of relationships. Many are deeply frustrated with the time we spend on this issue and the number of years the conversation has been going on – others are more patient – but there is a sense that regardless of this, we need to take some sort of step. This is a paradox and we recognise this is where we are.
  • There is a strong concern that people not be forced into any action that they cannot live with.
    Members experience a tension between striving for the deepest pastoral response possible without impairing communion and needing to care for the missional and pastoral context of the Canandian church. Again, we recognise this as a paradox.
  • There is a strong call for continuing theological study and dialogue that people are now beginning to experience. There is a growing, shared sense of being part of an on-going theological discernment that is helping us all to grow. “At another time my ire would have been up by what you just said. Now I realise I need to do more theological work.”
  • When we use the word “inclusive” to describe our church’s missional and pastoral context it now represents, and is being claimed by a wider range of voices, not just those supporting same-gendered blessings.
  • We clearly heard aboriginal voices in the process who were able to share something of the distinction of their contexts and identify issues that are more pressing within their communities.

Concerns

Some were very concerned with legislative (prescriptive) action at this time, preferring a descriptive statement of where we are (local summary) – supporting unity without uniformity. Others are concerned with disunity and want us to take decisive action at the national level. (national discernment).

Members have a strong concern with directional language (such as “moving forward” or “going ahead”) it is extremely unhelpful in the dialogue at this point and every attempt should be made to avoid using it.

Requests

  • We want to hold our common life together.
  • We do not want anyone forced into a position they cannot live with.

If dioceses were to extend the practice of locally determined generous pastoral care, there will be need to be careful and have robust qualifications in place:

  • The response meets the missional context of the diocese (e.g. First Nation, urban, rural).
  • There will be no imposition of either conversation or action on or within any diocese.
  • There will be accountability expressed through continuing dialogue within Canada and the wider Anglican Communion.
  • This would include any diocese that makes a decision through its synod to act; either to offer blessings or not to offer blessings.

If we as a national church acknowledge the existence of locally discerned options, there will be need to be a careful and robust understanding of what this actually means and the implications for our relations – diocese to diocese and to the wider communion.

There are particular requests for theological study; for further work on specific pastoral situation (such as clergy in same-gendered marriages); on marriage and blessings.

Some are requesting changes to the marriage cannon to recognise same-gendered relationships. Some are requesting that dioceses that have agreed to bless same-gendered relationships – cease.
For some there is a strong desire for clarity with respect to the moratoria and its ongoing status. Many have indicated they are waiting on GS2010 for guidance regarding continuing discernment, decision and action in their own context.

Overall there is a growing sense of discernment. People found the community building helpful and are discerning a deeper sense of dialogue guiding us rather than a battle to win a position. “I have already made up my mind on the issue. My challenge now is to be able to listen to others who have a different position of the issue. And to be patient as the Spirit works in and through us towards some sort of resolution whatever it may be.”

There is a strong sense of relief that these conversations are respectful – allowing members to both speak and be heard together. Members experience this as very positive and hopeful compared to the last General Synod.

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6 Responses to Sexuality Discernment Dialogue Feedback #1 June 8, 2010

  1. Frank Wirrell says:

    I note the comment, “I have already made up my mind. . .” but that is not the issue. The issue is do we accept the full authority of Scripture and are we prepared to live with that authority despite any personal feelings to the contrary. Besides the homosexual issue is but the tip of the iceberg and has arisen due to the failure of the Church to stand firm on the authority of Scripture. There is absolutely no way you can bind orthodoxy and apostasy as we do not serve the same God.

  2. Joy says:

    David,
    Is this posting the official document coming out of general synod… as opposed to your reporting on it?

  3. David says:

    It’s an official synod document that was read out and a paper copy was given to media. I imagine it will appear on the ACoC web site at some point, but I put it here now because I like typing so much.

    I’ve added a line to clarify that.

  4. Joy says:

    Oh my! You retyped the whole thing? Such dedication! Such masochism!
    We are so fortunate to have you as our eyes and ears at General Synod.
    Thank you!

  5. Margo says:

    “There is a strong sense of relief that these conversations are respectful – allowing members to both speak and be heard together. Members experience this as very positive and hopeful compared to the last General Synod.”
    When I commented once to David Virtue that the discussions at our (2008) diocesan synod were ‘respectful’ and ‘polite’ his response was “They always are”. I took that to mean that being respectful and polite in ‘on the synod floor’ discussions does not mean that ‘truth’ is being told, and ‘don’t take any notice of it – it’s going to get pushed through anyway’. This discussion ended in a synod motion request to the bishop to implement same gender blessings.

  6. Joanne says:

    I want to share something coming out of a prayer time Friday morning. My sister and I were praying for our Bishop, as he attends General Synod. As I prayed my sister became excited as she saw something like a burning bush coming up from the floor (at Synod), and she said , it is the Holy Spirit, it is a refiner’s fire that will bring glory to God.
    This triggered in my mind two verses of scripture I had been pondering in the BCP appointed Psalms earlier last week. Psalm 12:7 “The words of the Lord are pure words; even as the silver, which from the earth is tried, and purified seven times in the fire.”(BCP version)
    Psalm 18:32 “The way of God is an undefiled way: the word of the Lord also is tried in the fire; he is the defender of all them that put their trust in him.”(BCP version)
    May the Lord’s presence be known on the floor of Synod. Pray that one of our Bishop’s(defender of the faith) be raised up to speak God’s word to that gathering.

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