Bishop Andrew Asbil has offered his thoughts on the conclusion of General Synod, including the vote to amend the marriage canon and the next steps for the Diocese of Toronto.
Our meeting of General Synod has now come to a close. Over the last week, we have been engaged in much hard work, and made some very important decisions together.
We welcomed with great joy our new Primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, who is a great friend to the Diocese of Toronto. We have made great strides in supporting the self-determining Indigenous church, acknowledging that there is still much work to be done in the ministry of reconciliation, which began with the heartfelt apology for the spiritual abuses inflicted on our First People by the Church. These were powerful and Grace-filled moments at General Synod.
On Friday, however, the motion to change the marriage canon to include same-sex marriage failed to meet the threshold of a 2/3 majority in the House of Bishops. This was a devastating moment, not just for our LGBTQ2S community members, their families and their friends, but for the vast majority of General Synod members, myself included.
The Synod did affirm that faithful Anglicans may “hold, teach and exercise” different views of marriage which include same-sex couples. The House of Bishops, in its subsequent statement, affirmed the need for local option. I will therefore continue to offer pastoral guidelines for same-sex marriage in the Diocese of Toronto. If your parish feels called to offer marriage to same-sex couples, please follow, for now, the current guidelines, write to me, ask for permission, and I will grant it.
It’s important to remember that there are many faithful Anglicans, clergy and laity and parishes in this diocese, that hold to the traditional view of marriage. You have, and will always have, a cherished place in this Diocese. It is clear that God is not finished with this matter in the Church, and it is important for all of us to pull together in these tumultuous times.
At my installation as your bishop, I pledged to walk with you – to walk with all of you. And know that I continue to hold to that promise, that we may pull together, work together, pray together, that we may be the People of God in the Diocese of Toronto, that we will always walk in the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
I will have more to say in the fall about General Synod and about our way forward, but in the meantime, I would ask that you pray for each other, hold each other with generosity of spirit, with grace and with love. Pray with me. Pray for me. And pray for each other. Thank you.