The Anglican Church of Canada has voted to reject a motion which would have allowed same-sex marriages.
The motion failed to pass by just one vote during the 42nd General Synod which took place at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre on Friday (12 July). It would have amended the church’s canon on marriage and allowed clergy to officiate same-sex weddings.
The vote garnered overwhelming support from the denomination’s laity and clergy. But the bishops of Canada did not meet the two-thirds majority required for the motion to pass.
This means that Canada’s Anglican Church will continue to only officially recognize marriages between opposite-sex couples.
Many of the attendees of the Synod were visibly angered or distressed by the failed vote.
The archbishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, Melissa Skelton, also expressed her disappointment at the result.
It was the second vote required for the amendment to pass. The first took place in 2016.
There have been numerous instances of clergy performing same-sex weddings due to the unresolved dispute over same-sex marriage.
‘I’m very sorry for all the feelings of hurt that this vote has caused’
The motion required two-thirds of each of the church’s delegate groups to vote in favor of the motion for it to pass, the Vancouver Sun reports.
Two of the delegate groups voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution. The Order of Laity voted 80.9% in favor, and Order of Clergy voted 73.2% in favor.
However, votes from the Order of Bishops fell just short, with 62.2% voted in favor of the resolution. Two of the bishops eligible to vote abstained.
If the resolution had passed it would have allowed changed the church’s definition and removed the words ‘the union of a man and a woman’ from the canon.
This would have allowed members of the clergy to officiate same-sex weddings.
The failed vote angered a number of the attendees, with some storming out of the venue.
‘There’s a lot of grief right now among the delegates,’ Meghan Kilty, the church’s director of communications, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday.
Skelton could not attend the vote as she undergoing medical tests in hospital. The archbishop echoed these sentiments of those saddened by the outcome in a statement released later on Friday evening.
‘I was very disappointed not to have been with our delegates on account of my illness as the vote on the marriage canon occurred tonight,’ the Skelton’s statement said.
‘All that I can say is that I’m very sorry for all the feelings of hurt that this vote has caused, and that I urge everyone to pray for the Anglican Church of Canada.’
But this might not be the end of the matter. There have been indications that the resolution will be reintroduced. This must take place before the synod completes its business on 16 July.
Ongoing debate within Canada’s Anglican Church
There is an ongoing debate within the church as to whether or not the church specifically prohibits same-sex marriage.
The first vote took place in the church’s last general synod in 2016.
A number of dioceses have been performing same-sex marriages since then, Kilty says. This includes Toronto bishop Kevin Robertson, who married his husband in 2018.
She added that many of the clergy will continue to perform same-sex weddings until the dispute is resolved.
The church has also passed a resolution which recognizes that each diocese may respond to the issue of same-sex marriage in a way that best suits its theological understanding and practice.