Ottawa will ignore Synod vote rejecting gay marriage

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13 July 2019

A letter from Bishop John Chapman regarding the Marriage Canon XXI. Clergy are encouraged to read this in your parishes on Sunday morning.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

You will be pleased to know that our delegates are representing the interests of our diocese ably and well. On behalf of our diocese, may I thank The Right Rev. Michael Bird, The Venerable David Selzer, The Rev. Canon Beth Bretzlaff, Kim Chadsey, The Rev. Mark Whittall, The Rev. Monique Stone, John McBride, Lizzy Jones and Ann Chaplin.

While the work of General Synod continues, including the election of a new Primate, I think it is safe to say that many of you have followed with interest the conversations, debate and vote concerning the proposed change to the Marriage Canon to allow same sex couples to be married in the church. What follows outlines my pastoral response to this long-standing struggle among the people of God and to the result of the vote on the resolution.

Yesterday the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada voted on the proposal to amend the Marriage Canon XXI in our church. In order to be approved, this motion required a 2/3 majority in all three Orders – Bishops, Clergy, Laity. The proposal did not receive the necessary majorities required in all three Orders to approve the proposed amendment.

As many of you know, this decision will weigh very heavy upon many of our hearts and certainly mine as a bishop of the church and as bishop of the Diocese of Ottawa. Many of us are sharing a deep sense of disappointment today. Like many people, I have been engaged in seeking the full inclusion of ALL people seeking the sacraments and ministries of the church these last four decades. Many in the church and certainly in the Diocese of Ottawa have been seeking the same.

However, while the changes to Canon XXI did not achieve the required supermajority, a very significant step forward has been taken by our church which I celebrate. The General Synod adopted a document, with 85% support, called A Word to the Church. This document effectively allows dioceses (and bishops) to offer marriage to same sex couples. This is no small achievement. Previously, dioceses were obligated to function on their own in this matter. Now, the whole church affirms the right of each diocese to function, regarding same sex marriage, in a manner that best suits their theological understanding, practice, and tradition.

It is my intention, with the affirming support of the whole church with the passing of Motion A101-R1, A Word to the Church, to continue the practice of allowing same sex marriages in our diocese with the bishop’s permission and following our normal protocols.

My sisters and brothers, I continue to pray for our church and for our diocese as we strive to respond faithfully to the great work that we are called to do in the name of Jesus in these changing and challenging times. I remain,

Yours in Christ

The Rt. Rev. John H Chapman
Bishop of Ottawa