I remember a few years ago when our church was considering leaving the ACoC to join ANiC, one of the arguments put forward by our more institutionally minded orthodox friends was that the Province of Rupert’s Land was safe. In fact, they said, the Province predated the ACoC and could leave if needed. However today, maybe not so much. The Diocese of Edmonton and the Diocese of Rupert’s Land, have now both surrendered to the cultural zeitgeist.
The Diocese of Rupert’s Land have now published, here, their guidelines. It starts thus:
The Bishop and clergy of Rupert’s Land have completed preparation of a protocol for the pastoral practice of blessing same-sex unions. The protocol says why same-sex unions may be blessed in Rupert’s Land parishes and how this should be done. It acknowledges the differences of view among faithful Anglicans about blessing of same-sex unions. It directs each parish that wishes to explore this practice to follow a careful process of prayer, study and consultation before deciding to bless same-sex unions.
The protocol arises out of a vote at the 2012 Rupert’s Land diocesan synod. The synod voted to ask the Bishop to allow clergy whose conscience permits to bless the relationship between same-sex couples whose union has already been civilly registered, in parishes that have decided to offer this pastoral practice.
The diversity part is worthy of comment – it’s nothing new but it follows a time-honoured formula and needs to be made clear:
Diversity: Diversity of views is honoured and appreciated. (actually, not at all, but they will say this for now) Congregations and individuals are called to show pastoral generosity to one another. No cleric
and no parish is required to participate in same-sex blessing. (YET – but it will come) Clergy opposed to same-sex blessing should refer couples to the bishop. (your conscience is already proscribed) Clergy favouring same-sex blessing should exercise pastoral sensitivity to those opposed. (meaning very little in practice)
Also note. Blessings are not a marriage. Really, and honestly. Until a few years, when they will be. Maybe just before marriage is neutered by being defined to be pretty much anything anybody wants it to be.
Limitations to the rite: In order to be clearly distinguished from a marriage liturgy, the rite of blessing for a same-sex union will not include an exchange of legal consents, an opportunity for objections, a declaration of union, a rite of civil marriage, a signing of the parish marriage register or a nuptial blessing.
What now for those orthodox remnant in the Province of Rupert’s Land? You may say it’s not coming to you. But you would be deceiving yourself. The writing is on the wall. Whether you are to assimilate with the Anglican Church of Canadian Culture, or rejoin the majority of the Anglican Communion that has not been infected by cultural relativism will be and in many cases is right now – your choice.