Official document distributed at synod:
Comments on the groups
The average group size was 19 members. (Some members reported that they chose not to participate: they had talked enough.)
For some participants the discussion did not feel like a safe experience. There are conversations that have deep emotional connections for us, and it is widely recognised among Synod members that for many, this is a painful subject as there is a lot at stake.
There is a strong sense that, despite this, something must, at this time be said.
Affirmations and values
- The protection of our common life. We have a desire to walk together – to find a way to continue to be in community despite our differences while we continue to find our way with these issues.
- There is a strong sense of needing to get unstuck – to do or say something – but nothing that would provoke the wanton breaking of relationships. Many are deeply frustrated with the time we spend on this issue and the number of years the conversation has been going on – others are more patient – but there is a sense that regardless of this, we need to take some sort of step. This is a paradox and we recognise this is where we are.
- There is a strong concern that people not be forced into any action that they cannot live with.
Members experience a tension between striving for the deepest pastoral response possible without impairing communion and needing to care for the missional and pastoral context of the Canandian church. Again, we recognise this as a paradox.
- There is a strong call for continuing theological study and dialogue that people are now beginning to experience. There is a growing, shared sense of being part of an on-going theological discernment that is helping us all to grow. “At another time my ire would have been up by what you just said. Now I realise I need to do more theological work.”
- When we use the word “inclusive” to describe our church’s missional and pastoral context it now represents, and is being claimed by a wider range of voices, not just those supporting same-gendered blessings.
- We clearly heard aboriginal voices in the process who were able to share something of the distinction of their contexts and identify issues that are more pressing within their communities.
Some were very concerned with legislative (prescriptive) action at this time, preferring a descriptive statement of where we are (local summary) – supporting unity without uniformity. Others are concerned with disunity and want us to take decisive action at the national level. (national discernment).
Members have a strong concern with directional language (such as “moving forward” or “going ahead”) it is extremely unhelpful in the dialogue at this point and every attempt should be made to avoid using it.
- We want to hold our common life together.
- We do not want anyone forced into a position they cannot live with.
If dioceses were to extend the practice of locally determined generous pastoral care, there will be need to be careful and have robust qualifications in place:
- The response meets the missional context of the diocese (e.g. First Nation, urban, rural).
- There will be no imposition of either conversation or action on or within any diocese.
- There will be accountability expressed through continuing dialogue within Canada and the wider Anglican Communion.
- This would include any diocese that makes a decision through its synod to act; either to offer blessings or not to offer blessings.
If we as a national church acknowledge the existence of locally discerned options, there will be need to be a careful and robust understanding of what this actually means and the implications for our relations – diocese to diocese and to the wider communion.
There are particular requests for theological study; for further work on specific pastoral situation (such as clergy in same-gendered marriages); on marriage and blessings.
Some are requesting changes to the marriage cannon to recognise same-gendered relationships. Some are requesting that dioceses that have agreed to bless same-gendered relationships – cease.
For some there is a strong desire for clarity with respect to the moratoria and its ongoing status. Many have indicated they are waiting on GS2010 for guidance regarding continuing discernment, decision and action in their own context.
Overall there is a growing sense of discernment. People found the community building helpful and are discerning a deeper sense of dialogue guiding us rather than a battle to win a position. “I have already made up my mind on the issue. My challenge now is to be able to listen to others who have a different position of the issue. And to be patient as the Spirit works in and through us towards some sort of resolution whatever it may be.”
There is a strong sense of relief that these conversations are respectful – allowing members to both speak and be heard together. Members experience this as very positive and hopeful compared to the last General Synod.