To the clergy and people of the
Diocese of Moosonee
Dear friends in Christ – Wacheya
“I have called you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43,r)
Thank you for your patience in waiting for this letter from us regarding the recent events of our General Synod in Vancouver. We have needed time to exit the emotional roller coaster and the ‘bubble ‘of that gathering, as well as space to prayerfully consider what we might say to the people of God in Moosonee.
General Synod is always an historic synod. This is especially the case for General Synod 2019. Motions made at this Synod now allow for a self-determining church for indigenous peoples. The National Anglican Indigenous Bishop Mark Macdonald was made an Archbishop. The Primate, Fred Hiltz, gave a moving, heartfelt and repentant apology to indigenous peoples for spiritual harm done to them during the generations since contact. These historic moments were marked with much humility, grace and God’s presence.
It has been a General Synod that a new Primate has been elected for the Anglican Church of Canada. The Rt. Revd. Linda Nichols, bishop of the diocese of Huron is the first woman Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. This is exciting news, not just because Linda is a woman but because she is the God chosen person for the moment, born for such a time as this. She is a woman of prayer, immense faith and incredible integrity. We truly look forward to her leadership and ask that we all pray for her daily.
However, despite these momentous and historic events in the life of our church, this has also been a General Synod that has also disappointed and deeply hurt many people in the defeat of the proposed change to the Marriage Canon to allow for same gender marriage.
The Marriage Canon change required a two-third majority vote in all 3 houses of laity, clergy and bishops, but failed to receive the required two-third majority in the house of bishops. I ask for your special prayers and compassion for all affected by this decision.
Most of the Bishops felt a terrible regret that this happened. Following long hours of prayer and discernment they issued a statement to the General Synod apologizing for the pain caused by their division but agreed that they were open to what is known as the “local option”. That means that clergy and jurisdictions who wish to move ahead with same sex marriage are able to do so, once a liturgy is in place and authorized by the Diocesan Bishop.
In the coming days, months, and years each of the dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as our Indigenous Peoples, will be dealing with this matter in its own way, depending on its culture and context. Some may choose to move forward on same sex marriage while others will remain the way they are now. Indigenous communities have their own way of making decisions and that includes the communities within Moosonee.
Bishop Corston and I, in giving our agreement to the Bishop’s decision do not want the local option to cause harm or division in the Diocese of Moosonee. Both of us have been on our own journey of deeper understanding and have reached a place where both of us are now personally in favour of same sex marriage in our church. I know we are not all of one mind in Moosonee so we must move forward carefully and pastorally.
Our plan is that the matter will be part of the agenda in our upcoming Diocesan Executive meeting on November 1st for what we hope will be a thorough discussion. At that meeting we will decide the best direction forward for our Diocese.
There was much more accomplished General Synod in which many important decisions were made about how we will continue to live faithfully as Anglican Christians in this new time in the life and witness of our church in the world. We welcomed members of the ecumenical community and passed resolutions on Climate Change and Human Trafficking. Bishop Corston joins me in thanking our delegates to the Synod, Anne Marie Carriere, Kenneth Gilpin, Grace Delaney and Larry Armstrong, as well as Norm Wesley who, while not a Moosonee delegate nevertheless was present with the Indigenous Council.
As we continue walking together on our journey let us pray for one another and for our beloved church that the love of Christ will be made known in and through us.
Bishop Corston joins me in sending to all across this great northern Diocese our best wishes for a restful summer.
The Most Rev. Anne Germond
Archbishop of Moosonee