Nfld. & Labrador

Western Newfoundland Anglican Church to allow performing of same-sex marriage

The Anglican Church in western Newfoundland is moving forward with performing same-sex marriages despite a vote in July by the Anglican Church of Canada where it voted against the motion.

Special synod meeting had vote of 94 per cent in favour

John Organ is the Bishop of the Diocese of Western Newfoundland. (Anglican Life Newspaper)

The Anglican Church in western Newfoundland is moving forward with performing same-sex marriages despite a vote in July by the Anglican Church of Canada where it voted against the motion during its general assembly.

75 per cent of the general synod had voted in favour to pass the motion for the Anglican Church of Canada to allow for same-sex marriages to be performed, but the vote was defeated in the House of Bishops.

"The outcome of that was tremendous pain and suffering for LGBT folks, and for their families and friends and for their allies. It was a very difficult synod," said John Organ, Bishop of the Diocese of Western Newfoundland.

So, what I hope for our diocese and the people of western Newfoundland is that it will be kind of a healing action that we're taking.-Cynthia Haines-Turner

However, an individual diocese can still choose whether or not to perform same-sex marriages, regardless of the outcome from July's general assembly vote.

Some Anglican parishes across Canada have been doing so since 2016 based on an initial approval for changing the marriage canon.

As of March, St. Michael and All Angels in St. John's was still waiting for the national vote to swing in favour before moving ahead with performing the marriages. 

"We issued a statement expressing our regret for what had happened and the pain that we had caused, and then recommending or encouraging local option so that each dioceses could do what it needed to do in its context to respond to the needs of gay and lesbian people and their full inclusion in the church," Organ told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning.

"So that's what we have done here in our diocese."

As of March, St. Michael and All Angels in St. John's was still waiting for the national vote to swing in favour before moving ahead with performing the marriages.  (St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church/Facebook)

The vote for the Diocese of Western Newfoundland to move forward with same-sex marriages came in at around 94 per cent in favour of during a special synod meeting. 

Cynthia Haines-Turner, a lay person in the Anglican church, said it was an amazing moment when so many people stood up to cast their vote during the special synod.  

"It was really quite powerful," Haines-Turner said.

"We don't want to be putting up barriers. So what I hope for our diocese and the people of western Newfoundland is that it will be kind of a healing action that we're taking." 

No obligation

While the vote for the Diocese of Western Newfoundland to move forward with same-sex marriages was an overwhelming majority in favour, Organ said it's not a forced issue and that non-consenting clergy are not obligated to perform the marriages.

Even still, non-consenting clergy will not leave couples out in the cold.

Organ said the clergy will help point marriage-seeking couples in the right direction.

"They will do a non-biased, affirming referral to the regional dean or the archdeacon and we will find a priest that will go and do that wedding," Organ said.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Newfoundland Morning