Nova Scotia bishop gives voice to his grief over failure of gay marriage canon

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There are certain advantages and disadvantages in being 4 hours outside of your usual time zone. A disadvantage is that I haven’t had more than 4 hours of sleep any night since I have been here. That may have as much to do with what’s been on our agenda as the time change. An advantage is spectacular sunrises over the mountains for the past couple of mornings (weird-mountains to the east!)

There is a pretty old analogy in there. The sun comes up everyday and it shines on everyone without distinction, though there are lots of days when we don’t seem to get much benefit from it (but we still do). We don’t control the sun. God’s grace, love and mercy is likewise present everyday and it is given to everyone. There are certainly days when we don’t feel it, not because it is absent but because either we choose to not feel it or someone blocks it from us. We don’t control it.

Two days after the emotional debate on the Marriage Canon I am still feeling hollow.

Yesterday was a day that might have changed my life as our church elected a new Primate (It didn’t, I am staying, and I’m very glad about that – congratulations to Primate elect Linda Nicholls) yet I could barely think about the election. It wasn’t real in comparison to what we had done the day before. There continues to be a lot of conversation in the Synod, strategizing what might be done. The House of Bishops met yesterday when another long day’s agenda was over and didn’t finish until midnight.

So here is where we are from my perspective and I want to be as honest as I can possibly be about this. I am tired of raising people’s expectations only to see them destroyed later. However please remember it is only Starbucks coffee keeping me going at this point.

1) We followed a legal process to change a law of the church. The vote failed according to the well defined process that we use in such cases. That legal route is now closed. There are other legal processes that can be looked at to revisit the vote but it is extremely unlikely that anything will come of them. To go all theological on you- the law has failed us now it is time for grace to abound.

2) The Synod is not over yet, there may be other resolutions placed before us to consider in respect to Marriage, so theoretically the Synod may have something else to say. This is why I have not released any formal statement.

3) There is an existing de-facto “Local Option” in the Anglican Church of Canada with respect to permission given to clergy and parishes to offer marriage rites to same sex couples. On Friday the General Synod adopted, by an 85% majority, a document entitled “A Word to the Church” which acknowledged this reality and recognized that dioceses where this was the situation, had done so “in good faith”. It is my intention, barring any other action by the General Synod, to use my episcopal authority to do likewise in the Diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I believe that our conversations at our Diocesan Synod in 2017 gave a clear indication that, in that forum, a majority of our diocese wants to move in this direction. I do personally believe that such a direction is consistent with the faith in the saving and reconciling work of Jesus Christ which I am sworn to uphold. I also believe that I have seen in the life and witness of faithful, committed same sex couples the outworking of God’s grace and that glimpse of the kingdom which our Marriage liturgy speaks of.

Now I have to get ready to go to worship the God who loves, redeems, sustains and continues to bless me, you and the whole world.

+Ron Cutler, Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island