Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - FAITH - JOHN LONGHURST

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.”

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