Hamilton

Anglican church isn't ready to recognize same-sex marriage: bishop

The church voted narrowly against recognizing same-sex marriage, but did pass a document that allows each diocese to individually decide whether or not to recognize it.

The church voted against recognizing same-sex marriage but the Niagara diocese will continue to

Susan Bell is the bishop of the Diocese of Niagara. (Submitted by Susan Bell)

The bishop of Diocese of Niagara says she isn't surprised the Anglican Church of Canada voted against recognizing same-sex marriage. 

Susan Bell says the result of the vote is a "realistic portrayal of where the Anglican Church of Canada is right now."

This past week, national church leaders met for the Anglican church of Canada's triennial general meeting. There they voted against an amendment to its canon law that would recognize same-sex marriage.

But while falling short of a national amendment, the outcome of the meeting also allows each diocese to make its own determination. And, Bell says, the Niagara diocese will continue with its policy of recognizing same-sex marriage.

The overall vote on the canon law amendment came just short of succeeding. 

The church is divided into three houses, and each house had to vote more than two-thirds in favour of the amendment for it to pass.

Two of the three houses voted in favour, and the third voted 62.2 per cent in favour; the amendment would have been adopted with 66.6 per cent of the vote.

"I really lament the pain for our LGBTQ2S+ community," says Bell,  "and for everybody who desired this change."

But she says that, "We went into the vote with something in our back pockets."

She's talking about a document that was drafted before the vote, that allows each diocese to decide individually if it wants to recognize same-sex marriage. 

The Niagara diocese already recognized same-sex marriage, before the vote, but Bell says she understands that there are some dioceses and bishops that have not gone ahead with that. 

She says the document allows each diocese to describe their own reality.

Bell says, this coming together to find a middle ground is the way of the Anglican church, and says the way that this has played out has, "made me love our church more."

Barbara Erochina says, leaving it to dioceses to decide individually to recognize same-sex marriage, "isn't enough."

Erochina is a former Anglican who left the church six years ago. Now, she is a non-religious leader and emotional wellness coach working to create inclusive, sacred spaces for queer and trans people to practice spirituality in Toronto.

Erochina says that especially in light of the rise of ultra-conservatism and fascism in world politics, the Anglican church is "aligning itself on the wrong side of history" with this decision on same-sex marriage.

Barbara Erochina is a non-religious minister and emotional wellness coach in Toronto. She left the Anglican church six years ago. (Submitted by Barbara Erochina)

"I believe that the church nationally is undermining the divinity of humans across the country," says Erochina.

She doesn't want to pit herself against the church; she just wants to get the message out that if the church is following "the way of Jesus," it should be doing that in a way that is non-oppressive to everyone. 

Erochina wants people to know that it is possible to practice spirituality and also be free to express your true self. 

Susan Bell is focusing on the positive: the fact that the vote was so close.

"Having to answer a question that you can only have an either, or answer to is just not what we do." Bell says, "it's not who we are."

 

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