Canadian Bishop prepares to allow gay weddings

The Bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, a leading liberal Canadian Anglican bishop, is on the verge of allowing homosexual couples to ‘marry’ in his diocese, prompting protests by evangelicals and traditionalists. Bishop Ingham is planning to give his consent to ‘Motion 9’ — a request to offer a service of blessing for homosexuals — which was passed narrowly by his diocesan Synod in 1998 and received a second, larger ‘yes’ vote in 2001.

It is believed that Bishop Ingham will give his consent without a further vote, hoping to head off division by offering a conscience clause for mainstream Anglicans and appointing a short-term Episcopal visitor for parishes which dissent from his decision. But traditionalists in the ‘Essentials’ coalition are already petitioning Archbishop David Crawley of the Province of British Columbia and Yukon for a separate, non-geographic diocese, arguing that the “unprecedented changes in doctrine, discipline and moral norms” require unprecedented change in the structure of the Canadian Anglican Episcopacy. The petition to Archbishop Crawley, which is still being circulated in parishes in New Westminster, argues that the “irreconcilable differences on matters of doctrine and moral teaching… are beyond the remedy of a conscience clause.”

A motion has been proposed at the Diocesan Synod which meets from June 14-15 2002, resolving that the Diocese itself petitions the Province to establish a new, non-geographical diocese and to appoint interim Episcopal oversight. Following two ‘yes’ votes by his Diocesan Synod, Bishop Michael Ingham now regards mainstream Anglican believers as a minority who need to be protected with a conscience clause and a flying bishop. But the temporary provision of alternative pastoral care is not enough for many clergy and laity in New Westminster who believe that talk of reconciliation will amount to nothing more than picking off opposition one by one.

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