The blessing of civil marriages between same-sex couples can now take place in the Anglican diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in Canada. A resolution giving priests and parishes the option to bless same-sex unions was approved, by a majority vote, at the 143rd synod of the diocese on May 27 in Halifax.
Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island becomes the 8th diocese within the Anglican Church of Canada to move forward with same-sex blessings. The other dioceses are New Westminster, Montreal, Niagara, Huron, Ottawa, British Columbia, and Toronto. The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI) has also passed a motion asking its bishop to allow clergy “whose conscience permits” to bless same-sex unions.
The approved resolution states:
“That this Synod request the bishop or bishops to adapt the Pastoral Letter of October 1, 2010 as a Bishop’s or Bishops’ Guideline. If a parish, after prayerful discernment, decides to move beyond the current level of pastoral response, to the blessing of same-sex couples, such a decision reflects the diversity of ‘local discernment, decision, and action,’ and will be accommodated within the diverse pastoral practices of the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island as we respond in our missional context.”
The pastoral letter issued by diocesan bishop Sue Moxley, had laid out the Anglican church’s various responses to the issue of same-sex blessings and asked parishes to inform the bishop’s office about where they are in the “discernment process.” Bishop Moxley said “work still needs to be done still before [the guideline] is ready to go.” The bishop said parishes and clergy are free to opt out of blessing same-sex unions, adding that parishes will need “to decide where they want to be with a pastoral response” on the issue.
Three other motions related to the issue of blessings and marriage, in general, were rejected at synod. A motion to keep a roster of parishes and clergy amenable to the blessing of same-sex civilly married couples was defeated after debate on whether that would subject priests supportive of same-sex blessings to ostracism.
Resolution 9 sought blessings for heterosexual couples in “covenanted or committed unions outside of marriage.” The other, Resolution 11, asked that clergy of the diocese cease performing marriages altogether.