In July of this year, the Anglican Church of Canada voted on a motion to approve same-sex marriage rites within their denomination. The motion failed to pass.
This past weekend, however, the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador (which is under the Church’s umbrella) held a separate vote and decided that the Church at large got that wrong.
In fact, the option to allow the diocese to perform same-sex marriages had overwhelming support, with 88% of delegates present voting in favor, sending a clear message that members of this particular diocese want to support gay and lesbian members of their congregations.
Marriage equality has been legal in Canada since 2005, but religious denominations are allowed to refuse to perform same-sex marriages if their doctrine requires them to oppose the practice.
When the Anglican Church of Canada as a whole failed to pass the motion approving same-sex unions, the Church ruled that individual dioceses across Canada were free to decide independently whether to update their marriage rites. The Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador is the first Anglican diocese to make the shift.
Bishop Geoffrey Peddle spoke encouragingly of the decision in a press release issued by the Diocese:
The whole Church in our Diocese came together and decided to move forward for the full inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ persons as members of the Anglican Church by allowing same-sex marriage. Together we have made the Church bigger today. I support this decision and look forward to releasing a Pastoral Letter to the Diocese later this week.
A pastor from St. John’s, Reverend Jonathan Rowe, was one of eight parish leaders to request that the diocese revisit the question; he describes the change as “long past due,” adding that parishioners have approached him about having their same-sex relationships solemnized by the Church; he can now return to them and encourage them to begin planning their long-awaited weddings.
Rowe says he believes that his will be the first of many Canadian dioceses to embrace same-sex unions at the local level.
The mission statement for the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador describes Christianity as a calling “to build communities of hope and compassion,” which involves “reflecting diversity.” It’s lovely to see this particular diocese practicing what it preaches, offering hope and compassion — and equality — to a group of congregants traditionally marginalized in virtually every Christian denomination.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Kurt for the link)