Homosexuality and the Anglican Communion

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Since the 1990s, the Anglican Communion has struggled with controversy regarding homosexuality in the church. In 1998, the 13th Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops passed a resolution stating that "homosexual acts" are "incompatible with Scripture". In 2002, the Diocese of New Westminster, in the Anglican Church of Canada, permitted the blessing of same-sex unions. In 2003, two openly gay men in England and the United States became candidates for bishop. In the Church of England, Jeffrey John eventually succumbed to pressure to withdraw his name from consideration to be the Bishop of Reading. In the Episcopal Church in the United States, Gene Robinson was elected and consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire, becoming the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion and in apostolic Christianity. This was highly controversial and led several hundred bishops to boycott the 2008 Lambeth Conference. As an alternative to Lambeth, many of these bishops attended the Global Anglican Futures Conference in Jerusalem.[1]

Many provinces, primarily from the Global South and representing about half of the 80 million active Anglicans worldwide, have responded to these theological disputes by declaring a state of impaired communion with their Western counterparts.[2] Minority groups in Western provinces have stated their opposition to what they consider un-scriptural actions by the churches in England, Canada, Australia, and the United States. Since 2000, some conservative Global South provinces have appointed missionary bishops to the United States and Canada to provide pastoral oversight to disaffected Anglicans. This process, known as Anglican realignment, is considered by the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to be an illegitimate incursion into their territories; however, conservative Anglicans argued that the incursions were necessary because of the failure of these churches to uphold orthodox teaching with regard to human sexuality.[1]

Summary of issues[edit]

Main article: Anglican doctrine

There is a wide range of beliefs within the Anglican Communion regarding homosexuality. The majority of followers believe that heterosexuality or celibacy is required of Christians, but believe in tolerance towards others. This differs from secular society in most western democracies, which considers homosexuality to be a normal human variation, and affirms this in law. Some of the more specific issues under study within member churches and dioceses are:

  • Same-sex attracted members of the church or communion
    • May they exist?
    • Must they be celibate?
    • Should same-sex unions of LGBT members be blessed?
    • Should same-sex couples be allowed a religious marriage ceremony?
  • Same-sex attracted clergy
    • May they exist?
    • May they be openly authentic regarding their sexual orientation?
      • To what extent may they be "out" (e.g. only to their bishop, partner, spouse, or family, or to the wider public)
      • May they openly have a partner or spouse?
    • Must they be celibate?
    • May any of these individuals (those who are celibate and those who are non-celibate) be bishops?

Anglican churches are diverse in their views, from churches which do not accept any LGBT members, to churches which are happy to have openly same-sex, partnered or married, non-celibate bishops. The nature of the Anglican Communion is such that not all churches or dioceses must agree on all issues in order to share a common faith and baptism. Part of the controversy concerns how much and what sort of disagreement over these issues may exist while still calling it a "common faith."

  • The bishops of the Anglican Communion in 1998 upheld the traditional Christian teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman and that those who are not called to marriage so defined should remain celibate. A resolution was passed stating that "homosexual acts" are "incompatible with Scripture" by a vote of 526–70;[3] however, it also contained a statement which "calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex," and noted importantly: "We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ." The Lambeth Conference is "not an executive which imposes doctrine or discipline but it is a forum where the mind of the Communion can be expressed on matters of controversy."[4] Over 100 bishops, including some who voted in favour of the resolution, immediately repudiated it and signed a letter of apology to gay and lesbian Anglicans. However over 80% of the bishops did not do so.
  • The Church of England considers a celibate gay person to be eligible for ordination, even if that person has entered into a civil same-sex partnership, noting "The Church should not collude with the present assumptions of society that all close relationships necessarily include sexual activity."[5]
  • The Church of England affirmed in 2005 that lay gay members who have entered into civil partnerships are still eligible for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and communion.[5]
  • In 2002, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Diocese of New Westminster voted to allow the blessing and officiation of same-sex unions and marriages by those parishes who choose to do so.
  • The Anglican Church of Nigeria issued a statement in 2006 affirming "our commitment to the total rejection of the evil of homosexuality which is a perversion of human dignity and encourages the National Assembly to ratify the Bill prohibiting the legality of homosexuality".[6]
  • Sexual orientation, specifically the consecration of Gene Robinson, was a a major issue at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. A group of conservative bishops opposed to the ordination and marriage of same-sex attracted people, including most of the "global south", gathered on June 2008 at the Global Anglican Future Conference.

Gene Robinson controversy[edit]

Main article: Gay bishops
Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire

In August 2003 the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected an openly gay and partnered priest, Gene Robinson, as bishop. This came shortly after a similar controversy in England when an openly gay priest, Canon Jeffrey John, was appointed to become the Suffragan Bishop of Reading. Eventually, however, John agreed to withdraw in order to avoid division. In 2004, in the aftermath of Robinson's election as bishop, John was installed as Dean of St Albans, the cathedral there being the site of England's first Christian martyr.

2003 Lambeth Palace meeting[edit]

As a result of the controversy over the ordination of gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions, on 15 October 2003, Anglican leaders from around the world met in Lambeth Palace in an attempt to avoid a schism on the issue. The day after, they released a lengthy statement:[7]

We must make clear that recent actions in New Westminster and in the Episcopal Church (USA) do not express the mind of our Communion as a whole, and these decisions jeopardise our sacramental fellowship with each other. ...

If his [Gene Robinson's] consecration proceeds, we recognise that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy. ...

In this case, the ministry of this one bishop will not be recognised by most of the Anglican world, and many provinces are likely to consider themselves to be out of Communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). This will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level, and may lead to further division on this and further issues as provinces have to decide in consequence whether they can remain in communion with provinces that choose not to break communion with the Episcopal Church (USA). ...

Similar considerations apply to the situation pertaining in the Diocese of New Westminster.

We commend the report of that Conference in its entirety to all members of the Anglican Communion, valuing especially its emphasis on the need to listen to the experience of homosexual persons, and [...] to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ"; and its acknowledgement of the need for ongoing study on questions of human sexuality. ...

As Primates, it is not for us to pass judgement on the constitutional processes of another province. We recognise the sensitive balance between provincial autonomy and the expression of critical opinion by others on the internal actions of a province.

Statements from Rowan Williams[edit]

In 2004 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams wrote a letter to Anglican churches worldwide in which he condemned comments by bishops outside the Western world for inciting violence against gay men and women.[8]

Any words that could make it easier for someone to attack or abuse a homosexual person are words of which we must repent. Do not think repentance is always something others are called to, but acknowledge the failings we all share, sinful and struggling disciples as we are.

In a 2007 speech to theology students in Toronto, Williams argued that conservatives have failed to consider the wider context of Romans 1:27, which states, "and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for error." Williams pointed out that although St. Paul (the author of this epistle) and his contemporaries viewed sex between two people of the same sex "as obviously immoral as idol worship or disobedience to parents", the main point of this passage is that humans must not judge one another for being sinful: Romans 2:1 says "Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another: for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things." Williams admitted that his analysis "does nothing to settle the exegetical questions fiercely debated at the moment", but called upon conservatives to avoid self-righteousness rather than "happily identifying with Paul's castigation of someone else".[9]

Subsequent division[edit]

Bishops from two Anglican provinces, Province of Rwanda and the Province of South East Asia, consecrated missionary bishops for the United States in January 2000 and formally established the Anglican Mission in America (now called the Anglican Mission in the Americas) later that year. In 2010, a similar jurisdiction created by the Reformed Episcopal Church and former members and congregations of the Episcopal Church in the USA was officially launched. Four dioceses which withdrew from the Episcopal Church account for the majority of the nearly 700 congregations affiliated with this church, the Anglican Church in North America. These two bodies—AMiA and ACNA—reject the creation of rites for same-sex unions as well as the ordination of openly gay people. Neither is a member of the Anglican Communion at present (see Anglican realignment).

Bishops in Uganda cut relations with the Diocese of New Hampshire following Robinson's consecration on 2 November 2003. The Church of Nigeria declared itself in "impaired communion" with the Episcopal Church on 2 November 2003,[10] and nine days later announced it was planning to establish a United States branch of its province to support Nigerian Anglicans living in the U.S., the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. The Province of South East Asia broke communion with the Episcopal Church on 20 November 2003, citing Robinson's consecration as the reason for its action.[11]

Windsor Report and 2005 Primates Meeting[edit]

In 2004, the Lambeth Commission on Communion issued a report on homosexuality in the Anglican Communion, which became known as the Windsor Report. This report took a strong stand against same-sex attracted people, recommended a moratorium on further consecrations of openly gay bishops and blessings of same-sex unions and marriages,[12] and called for all involved in Robinson's consecration "to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion".[13] However, it stopped short of recommending discipline against the Episcopal Church or Anglican Church of Canada.

In February 2005, the Primates of the Anglican Communion held a regular meeting at Dromantine in Northern Ireland at which sexual orientation was heavily discussed. Of the 38 Primates, 35 attended. The Primates issued a communiqué that reiterated most of the Windsor Report's statements, but added a new twist. Both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada were asked to voluntarily withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council, the main formal international entity within the Anglican Communion until the next Lambeth Conference in 2008.

Consecration of Mary Douglas Glasspool[edit]

In December 2009 an openly lesbian priest, Mary Douglas Glasspool, was elected as a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Her consecration took place on 15 May 2010.[14] Leaders from 20 Anglican provinces, meeting in Singapore in April 2010 declared the election and intended consecration of Canon Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian in the Episcopal Church in the United States, “demonstrated, yet again, a total disregard for the mind of the Communion”.[15]

Differing stances[edit]

Within the Anglican Communion there is diverse opinion over sexual orientation.[16]

Church of England[edit]

Main article: Church of England

The issue erupted when Jeffrey John, an openly gay priest, was elected Bishop of Reading in May 2003. Before he could take up his post there was strong opposition from a minority of bishops and he was persuaded to not proceed with the appointment. However, many senior bishops have voiced disappointment at his decision to resign. Later in 2004 he was then installed as Dean of St. Albans. Further controversy erupted when churches in the Diocese of St Albans decided that they would withhold contributions until further notice to protest this appointment. St. Peter and Paul's Church in Cranfield, near Bedford, and Holy Trinity Church, in New Barnet, north of Greater London, pledged to withhold money from diocesan funds in protest. St Andrews Church in the Hertfordshire town of Chorleywood has also announced that it would withhold funds until further notice.

In 2013, some in the Church of England planned a liturgical blessing of gay couples.[17] Still in 2014 The Church of England's House of Bishops decided against special blessings but allowed, "More informal kinds of prayer, at the request of the couple [but this should] be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the Church's teaching and [the couple's] reasons for departing from it." The Rev. Andrew Cain, of St. Mary's Church, Kilburn and St. James' Church West, in North London planned to defy the ban and bless same sex marriages,[18] as did a few others.[19]

Same-sex attracted people who are ordained deacons, priests and Bishops are forbidden to marry someone of the same sex and same-sex attracted people who are married to someone of the same sex are forbidden to be ordained.[20] Ben Bradshaw MP wanted the position of the Church of England clarified. Specifically, he demanded to know if Church of England clergy who married a same-sex partner would be disciplined or defrocked.[21] Gay people, including those in same-sex civil partnerships or marriages, are allowed to become clerics but are expected to remain celibate.[22] The Huffington Post wrote in a 2014 article that gay clergy who enter into same-sex marriage or bless same-sex marriages risk being defrocked and losing their jobs.[23] Seven clerics planned to marry regardless, defying their bishops.[19] Some Church of England bishops, however, fully accept and embrace gay clergy with partners or spouses in their diocese while other bishops remove the clergy member's license, making it extremely difficult to find another job in another diocese.[24] In 2014, Jeremy Pemberton married Laurence Cunnington, thus becoming the first priest in the Church of England to defy the Church's ban on the marriage of gay clergy.[25]

In 2015, The Most Reverend Dr. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, told a lay preacher, Jeremy Timm, that if he persisted with plans to marry his long-time partner, his license to preach in Anglican churches would be revoked. As of August 2015, an agreement was reached: Timm would complete existing preaching commitments before revocation. Timm announced his plans to get married in September 2015 and to leave the Church of England[26] for "Contemplative Fire", a dispersed, diverse, and inclusive group that is primarily Anglican.[27][28]

Church of Ireland[edit]

Main article: Church of Ireland

Within the Church of Ireland there is a wide spectrum of opinion. Conservatives expressed great concern about an alleged blessing of the relationship of a lesbian couple in St. Nicolas' Collegiate Church, Galway in September 2002. The rector of the parish, the Reverend Patrick Towers, told the press, "I refuse to do weddings of same gender couples as they simply don't exist. But I am always very happy to look favourably on anyone seeking a blessing, be it for divorced couples, animals or friendships. It was a standard blessing, one I wrote myself, based on the Claddagh ring theme."[29] There was also widespread concern within the Church of Ireland at the Bishop of Limerick's attendance at Gene Robinson's consecration.[30][31] Views at parish level reflect this with many evangelical parishes as well as those in the more populous (in terms of Church of Ireland membership) north being generally opposed to LGBT identities, while middle and high church parishes, especially in the south, have openly gay parishioners as a matter of routine. For example, at General Synod 2005, Dean Michael Burrows (now a bishop) stated that he regularly gives Holy Communion to same-sex attracted parishioners in long-standing relationships.[32]

The bishops have announced a process of listening and reflection within the Church. A preliminary response to the Windsor Report was produced by the Church's standing committee in January 2005. Most of the northern dioceses passed motions favouring Lambeth Resolution I.10, although a similar motion failed to receive overall endorsement in the Diocese of Connor, covering most of County Antrim and the diocese with the most members in the Church of Ireland.[33]

In 2015, the Bishop of Cork, Dr. Paul Colton, announced his support of marriage equality, becoming the first Church of Ireland bishop to do so, saying "The events in society are moving very rapidly and the church is not at all up to pace with the debate."[34] On May 23, 2015, the people of Ireland voted in favor of the legalization of same-sex marriage, the first country to do such by popular vote.[35]

Scottish Episcopal Church[edit]

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) does not have a policy against ordaining non-celibate gay clergy, thus such ordinations are theoretically allowed. They announced this on 23 March 2005:

"[We] had never regarded the fact that someone was in a close relationship with a member of the same sex as in itself constituting a bar to the exercise of an ordained ministry...We do not have a synodical decision like the Church of England has, which it made a number of years ago, and therefore if someone who was of a homosexual orientation felt a sense of call to the ordained ministry then we would begin the process of testing that vocation. We wouldn't bar him or her simply because they were homosexual."

Sensational headlines in North America announced that the Scottish Episcopal Church had agreed to ordain gay and lesbian people in committed relationships. The Church thus released a statement pointing out that the policy was not news. Regarding the media release, the Church said: "Press interest has focused on one small part of the overall statement". It continued to say that:

"In referring to the fact that there is no current bar to ordination for someone who might be in a close relationship with a member of the same sex, the Bishops were simply stating the present position as it applies in Scotland where, unlike some other provinces, no motion discouraging such ordinations has ever been passed by our General Synod. Consequently, the statement earlier this month does not represent any change in policy on the part of the Bishops."[36]

Church of the Province of South East Asia[edit]

(Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam)

The Province of South East Asia criticised the confirmation of Gene Robinson as a bishop by the Episcopal Church (USA), stating:

"The said confirmation therefore seriously raises the question of ECUSA's genuine commitment to our corporate responsibility as members of the church catholic to uphold and promote only the Apostolic Faith and Order inherited. A natural, holistic and consistent reading of the Scriptures clearly show that it is against the practise of homosexuality. In the context of orthodox and classical Christianity, the canonical authority of the Scriptures is taken to be recognized and received by the community of faith and not subject to majority, culturally relevant or even theological voting."[37]

On 24 November 2003, the province declared that it had entered into a state of impaired communion with the Episcopal Church by releasing the following statement:

"The Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church of South East Asia unanimously rejects the purported consecration of Dr Gene Robinson on 2 November 2003 by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in New Hampshire, as a bishop in the Anglican Church. The Province views the purported consecration as a flagrant disregard of the fundamental teachings of the Bible and the long-established doctrines of the Church.

As the Rev. Gene Robinson is a practising homosexual who had divorced his wife and has, for the last 13 years, been living with a male partner, the Province cannot and does not recognize his consecration and ministry in the Anglican church.

In view of the ECUSA's action in proceeding with the consecration despite the warnings and pleas of a large majority of Anglican churches worldwide, the Province regrets that communion with the ECUSA as well as those who voted for the consecration and those who participated in the consecration service is now broken.

This means that the Province no longer treats those in ECUSA who carried out and supported the act of consecration as brothers and sisters in Christ unless and until they repent of their action and return to embrace Biblical truths. At the same time, the Province remains in fellowship with the faithful believers within ECUSA who rightly oppose and reject the erroneous actions of their house.

This decision was made unanimously at an extraordinary meeting of the Synod held in Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia, on 20 November 2003."[11]

Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (Hong Kong Anglican Church)[edit]

The fourth General Synod of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, at its meeting on 15 October 2007, resolved that the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and Macau supports the recommendations contained in the Windsor Report so as to safeguard the unity of the Anglican Communion.

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia[edit]

There is no officially stated policy,[38] although there is majority agreement with the Windsor Report and Lambeth Conference. There is no official support for the ordination of openly gay or lesbian clergy, although there is some degree of local support. Some Pākehā parishes are more open to gay and lesbian issues, including ordination and blessing of unions. The Dunedin and Auckland dioceses are notable for other such examples, including the ordination of a non-celibate gay priest and the blessings of same-sex relationships performed by priests in an official capacity.[39]

New Zealand writer Liz Lightfoot has documented the experiences of individuals coming out in the Anglican Church as a contribution to the 'listening process' in the Anglican Church.[40]

In 2014, General Synod passes a resolution that would create a pathway towards the blessing of same-sex relationships, while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.[41]

Anglican Church of Australia[edit]

Officially, the Anglican Church of Australia has no single position on sexual orientation.[42] At its 2004 General Synod held in Perth, the Anglican Church of Australia passed four resolutions on human sexuality. The key resolutions stated that, "Recognising that this is a matter of ongoing debate and conversation in this church and that we all have an obligation to listen to each other with respect, this General Synod does not condone the liturgical blessing of same sex relationships" and "this General Synod does not condone the ordination of people in open committed same sex relationships."[43] The current Primate, Phillip Aspinall, has stated the topic is not worth splitting the church over.[44] Peter Jensen, the archbishop of the strongly conservative Evangelical Diocese of Sydney, has vigorously opposed homosexuality, stating that, in spite of St. Peter's revelation that "God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean,"[45] accepting non-heterosexual people would be "calling holy what God called sin."[46] The former Australian primate, Archbishop Peter Carnley, who retired in 2005, criticised "Sydney Anglicans" for "empty moralizing" and questioned if the Bible condemns homosexuality in a statement:

The exact meaning to be read from these texts and whether they can rightly be made to provide a neat pre-packaged answer to our contemporary questions is what is at issue. Anybody brave enough to claim to know the inner mind of God on the basis of a personal claim to be privy to the only conceivable interpretation of some biblical texts is guilty of self-delusion.[47]

St Andrew's Church in Subiaco, Perth, Western Australia was the first Anglican church in Australia to publicly welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Its Sunday evening services are specifically for LGBT people.[48][not in citation given] Since then, other dioceses have taken affirming stances toward same-sex couples and LGBT clergy. In 2013, the Diocese of Perth voted in favor of honoring same-sex marriages.[49] Moreover, in 2012, the Diocese of Gippsland appointed an openly gay priest,[50] and, in 2015, the bishop of Wangaratta endorsed same-sex marriage.[51]

Anglican Province of the Southern Cone of America[edit]

Archbishop Gregory Venables has also been strongly critical of homosexuality. Bishops in his province criticised the Windsor Report for failing to call liberal churches to repentance. The province has declared itself in "impaired communion" with ECUSA, but continues to maintain full communion with opponents of the Robinson consecration.[52] Venables has authorised dioceses within his province to provide episcopal oversight to United States churches that have left ECUSA.

In December 2007, the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, an Episcopal Church diocese in central California, voted to leave the ECUSA and joined the Province of the Southern Cone as the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. A minority of the Episcopal Diocese remained in the ECUSA. In October 2008, a majority of the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to leave ECUSA and affiliate with the Southern Cone, resulting in one body affiliated with the Southern Cone and a second body remaining within ECUSA. The following month, the conventions of two more US dioceses—the Diocese of Quincy in Illinois and the Diocese of Fort Worth in Texas—voted to leave ECUSA and affiliate with the Southern Cone. All were subsequently absorbed into the new Anglican Church in North America.

Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil[edit]

The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil is characterised by its progressive theological views on homosexuality. After the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church in Brazil decided to promote two national forums on human sexuality, both held in Rio de Janeiro. Its decisions guided the policy. According to the final document, the consensus of the Brazilian Church is that human sexuality is a gift from God, and it should be experienced in peace, freedom, love and respect. It is understood that the Church should respect the privacy of its members and clergy. Any kind of public exposure of someone's sexual orientation (as a pre-requisite to be a member or take part of any ministry) violates this privacy. Because of that progressive position, the Bishop of the Diocese of Recife, still strongly Evangelical, Robinson Cavalcanti, declared Recife to be independent of the Church of Brazil, an action that resulted in his being deposed as a bishop by the Ecclesiastical Tribunal.[53] Among his main reasons, he pointed out that the Brazilian Church was sympathetic to the ordination of Gene Robinson, as well as the ordination of all LGBT people. This split the Diocese of Recife in two: one part loyal to Bishop Orlando Santos de Oliveira, primate of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, and currently coordinated by Bishop Sebastião Gameleira, and the other, under Cavalcanti's leadership, tied to the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

Anglican Church of Canada[edit]

Sexual orientation and the Anglican Church of Canada exist within a strictly Canadian context. In the secular context, Canadian law underwent a profound change in regards to homosexuality. The last same-sex attracted person to be sent to prison indefinitely as a "dangerous sex offender" was in 1967.[54] In 1969, the Canadian parliament passed amendments of the Criminal Code, decriminalising homosexuality in Canada.[54] On 20 July 1971, the last gay man criminally convicted because of his sexual orientation was released from prison.[54] A series of judicial rulings beginning in 2003 legalised same-sex marriage in the majority of Canada's provinces, and on 20 July 2005, the Canadian government extended the new definition nationwide by statute.[54]

Currently ten Anglican dioceses (Edmonton, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Rupert’s Land, Ottawa, Vancouver-based New Westminster, Toronto, London-based Huron, Hamilton-based Niagara, Montreal, and Victoria-based British Columbia) allow the blessing and marriage of same-sex couples. The Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (formerly the Diocese of Cariboo) also permit such rites.[55]

On 30 September 2012, the Anglican bishop of Saskatoon ordained as deacon an individual civilly married to a person of the same sex.[56]

At the General Synod on July 6, 2013, the Anglican Church Of Canada made the decision to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage at the following Synod in 2016. The vote that is slated to take place at the 2016 Synod will decide whether or not to change the Church's canon on marriage, and “to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples.” If the vote at the 2016 Synod is in favour of changing the marriage canon, it would then require a second vote at the following Synod in order for the canon to be changed. The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meets every three years.

Episcopal Church in the United States of America[edit]

See also: Ellen Barrett

In 2003, ECUSA became the first Anglican province to ordain an openly gay priest in a same-sex relationship as a bishop; however, the Episcopal Church's stance on LGBT matters had been debated for decades. In 1976, the Church's General Convention passed a resolution stating: "It is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church."[57]

Various interpretations were held within the Episcopal Church on this resolution, ranging from the majority of dioceses that now ordain non-celibate gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender clergy to the minority group who founded the Anglican Communion Network which currently opposes such ordinations. On 23 June 2005, The Episcopal Church defined its meaning in a 130 page document entitled "To Set Our Hope on Christ":

We believe that God has been opening our eyes to acts of God that we had not known how to see before ... the eligibility for ordination of those in covenanted same-sex unions ... a person living in a same-gendered union may be eligible to lead the flock of Christ ... members of the Episcopal Church have discerned holiness in same-sex relationships and have come to support the blessing of such unions and the ordination or consecration of persons in those unions ... Their holiness stands in stark contrast with many sinful patterns of sexuality in the world ... The idea that there is only one correct way to read or interpret scripture is a rather modern idea.[58]

In July 2009, the General Convention voted to allow bishops to bless same-sex unions, and also called for bishops to "collect and develop theological and liturgical resources" for possibly creating an official rite for such ceremonies at the 2012 General Convention.[59][60]

In January 2010, the Reverend Mally Lloyd and the Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, two prominent Episcopal priests, married in a ceremony at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston, Massachusetts.[61]

Church in the Province of the West Indies[edit]

Archbishop Gomez has said Gene Robinson's ordination is incompatible with Scripture.[44]

Church of the Province of Central Africa[edit]

Archbishop Malango was quoted as stating Gene Robinson's election "brought darkness, disappointment, sadness and grief" to his Church.[62]

Anglican Church of Kenya[edit]

Archbishop Nzimbi has strongly spoken against admitting non-celibate same-sex attracted people into the Church.[44]

Church of Nigeria[edit]

Main article: Church of Nigeria

The Church remains sharply opposed to homosexuality, calling it "a perversion of human dignity."[6] In March 2009, the Church declared itself in full communion with the Anglican Church in North America, a denomination formed by American and Canadian Anglicans who opposed their national churches' actions with regard to homosexuality and equality.[63]

Anglican Church of Southern Africa[edit]

The previous Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, stated: "The Jesus I worship is not likely to collaborate with those who vilify and persecute an already oppressed minority [...]. I could not myself keep quiet whilst people were being penalised for something about which they could do nothing, their sexuality. For it is so improbable that any sane, normal person would deliberately choose a lifestyle exposing him or her to so much vilification, opprobrium and physical abuse, even death. To discriminate against our sisters and brothers who are lesbian or gay on grounds of their sexual orientation for me is as totally unacceptable and unjust as Apartheid ever was.[64]"

Former Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane has criticised other African Churches regarding homosexuality and said that the church's attention should be focused on other concerns such as AIDS and poverty. Nevertheless, Ndungane expressed publicly his disapproval of same-sex marriage, when it was legalised in South Africa: "As far as we are concerned as a church, our understanding of marriage is between a man and a woman. And as a church, and the Anglican Church in particular, we have said no to same-sex unions."[65]

Episcopal Church of the Sudan[edit]

The Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, on 22 July at a public press conference during the 2008 Lambeth Conference called for Bishop Gene Robinson to resign, and for all those who had participated in his consecration to confess their sins to the conference.[66]

Anglican Church of Tanzania[edit]

In November 2003, responding to the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, Archbishop Donald Mtetemela stated his belief that homosexuality is against biblical teaching: "The Anglican Church of Tanzania believes that homosexuality is contrary to the teaching of the Word of God. It is a sin."[67] Mtetemela declared that the Church of Tanzania was no longer in communion with Episcopal Church bishops who participated in the consecration of Robinson, and those who permit the blessing of same-sex unions.[67]

Church of the Province of Uganda[edit]

The Ugandan church cut ties with its North American counterparts over homosexuality. It declared itself in full communion with the Anglican Church in North America, a denomination not recognised by the Anglican Communion that was formed by lay and clergy members who had left The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over matters of LGBT inclusion.[68]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Christopher Craig Brittain and Andrew McKinnon, "Homosexuality and the Construction of 'Anglican Orthodoxy': The Symbolic Politics of the Anglican Communion," Sociology of Religion (2011), pp. 1–3. [1]
  2. ^ The Tablet, 26 July 2003,Row over homosexuality splits Anglican Communion. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  3. ^ David Skidmore, 7 August 1998, Lambeth Conference 1998 Archives. Retrieved 12 April 2007.
  4. ^ Site of The Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference
  5. ^ a b Church of England News, 25 July 2005.House of Bishops issues pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  6. ^ a b Peter Akinola, Message to the nation. Retrieved 17 July 2007.
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  • Brittain, Christopher Craig and Andrew McKinnon, "Homosexuality and the Construction of ‘Anglican Orthodoxy’: The Symbolic Politics of the Anglican Communion", Sociology of Religion, vol.72, no.3, pp. 351–373 (2011).
  • Hassett, Miranda, Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism, Princeton: Princeton University Press (2007).
  • Jay Emerson Johnson, "Sodomy and Gendered Love: Reading Genesis 19 in the Anglican Communion", in Michael Lieb, Emma Mason and Jonathan Roberts (еds), The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible (Oxford, OUP, 2011), pp413–432.
  • McKinnon, Andrew, Marta Trzebiatowska and Christopher Brittain. (2011) "Bourdieu, Capital and Conflict in a Religious Field: The Case of the Anglican Communion", Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol.26, no.3, pp. 355–370.

External links[edit]

Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance