ANGLICAN BISHOP PUTS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CARDS ON THE TABLE
FOR reality” and that he was “committed to working toward making that happen… as soon as responsibly possible.”
After the statement was released, “not everyone was happy,” he says, “but the level of anxiety dropped.”
Then came the General Synod, where the motion required a majority in the church’s three orders — laity, clergy and bishops — to pass. Phillips expected it to be defeated; a straw poll among bishops in February indicated there wasn’t enough support in that order for the motion to pass.
The bishops did vote in favour and, after rectifying the voting mistake, it passed in the other two orders, too. This doesn’t mean priests can now marry same-sex couples, however, that won’t be permitted until after a second vote at the next General Synod in 2019.
Going forward, Phillips believes most Anglicans in the diocese will support the change to allow samesex marriages. As for those who are opposed, “I am inviting anyone with questions or concerns to be in touch with me,” he says. “I am happy to have a conversation with anyone.”
Of particular concern is the response of indigenous Anglicans, including those in the diocese. Before the vote, several indigenous bishops released a statement saying the move towards same-sex marriage was an imposition of “western cultural questions and approaches on our societies.”
“This relationship needs mending,” he says, adding he will be taking time to talk to indigenous members in the diocese. And looking ahead, he says he wouldn’t “be surprised” if an amendment is brought to the next General Synod “that recognizes the concerns of indigenous Anglicans.”
As for others in the diocese who may have concerns about the motion, they “are still fairly engaged in the life of the church, they are faithful, important members,” he says. “Their stance on this issue should not diminish their service and ministry in the church.”
An opportunity for discussion about the motion will take place in October, when the vote will be one of the subjects of a meeting for clergy and laity.
“I hope it will be a time when we engage each other and move beyond this difference,” he says. “I hope that we can still do our ministry together in Jesus’s name, and not let this divide or define us.”
Meantime, what will he do if a same-sex couple wants to be married by an Anglican church in Manitoba?
“I want to be respectful of the process,” he says. “Our position (as a church) has not yet changed. We will still offer blessings to same-sex couples, but not marriage until after the second vote.”
However, he adds, “if a priest comes to me with a pastoral need on this issue, I would be prepared to enter into a discussion.”