Nfld. & Labrador

Anglican priest in St. John's hopes to perform same-sex marriages, despite 'shock' at vote

Rev. Jonathan Rowe says his parish at St. Michael and All Angels in St. John's plans to continue working towards marrying same-sex couples, despite Friday's vote.

Anglican Church of Canada rejected same-sex marriage vote Friday, but 'local option' on table

Rev. Jonathan Rowe says it's a matter of when, not if, the Anglican Church of Canada will allow same-sex marriage in all its parishes. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Rev. Jonathan Rowe says his parish at St. Michael and All Angels in St. John's plans to continue working towards marrying same-sex couples, despite the Anglican Church of Canada's vote to reject it. 

On Friday, the Anglican Church of Canada voted against the motion at its general assembly in Vancouver, leaving the local parish shocked and disappointed in the decision. 

"I had been through all of the emotions that I half expected to be facing. Profound sadness, some shock, some disappointment, the anger, confusion, all of those sorts of things," said Rowe, the rector at St. Michael and All Angels.

In March, the parish passed a motion to request permission from the Anglican Church to marry all couples who can legally be married in Canada in their parish. 

Some Anglican parishes across Canada are already allowing for same-sex marriage based on an initial approval for changing the marriage canon in 2016. Rowe said the church is OK with the diversity of opinion, recognizing different understandings and interpretations of the canon.

We hear your cries, and we weep with you.- House of Bishops

But the motion had to pass through two consecutive General Synods, so Rowe said he wanted to wait until this second vote July 12, at which the lay voters and clergy supported it — but support among the bishops didn't meet the two-thirds threshold required to pass. 

"Everything that I had been facing, I know that this does not affect me nearly as much it affects members of the LGBTQ-plus community who have been waiting for this for a long time, and have hearts broken and expectations shattered," Rowe said. 

"They're feeling it far worse than I am."

On Monday, the church's bishops posted an official statement online in response to the public's disappointment in the voting results.

"We see your tears, we hear your cries, and we weep with you," it read.

It also said the bishops are not "of one mind," and are leaving room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions to proceed with same-sex marriage as they see fit, called a "local option." 

Not everyone on board

Rowe said the church is habitual and simply moves slowly with decisions, which can be frustrating in some instances and positive in others. 

Rowe feels as though there's another problem the church is facing — a minority within a minority of the 200 or more people in Vancouver for the General Synod, stifling a fairly clear consensus from the rest of the church, which is ready to move forward with same-sex marriage.

St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church requested permission from the Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador to offer marriage to all couples legally entitled to marry in Canada in the spring. Last week, the church was authorized. (St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church/Facebook)

Rowe said there was a decrease in approval from the bishops, although more of the laity and clergy supported the same-sex marriage motion in this vote. He said that decrease came from some newly appointed bishops voting differently than those at the table in 2016.

Rowe said that despite the disappointing vote, all is not lost and the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador will discuss plans for the future when it meets in September — something planned regardless of Friday's outcome. 

Rowe said his parish has made its decision, but will await approval from the diocese to continue.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go