Same-sex couples in the Metro Vancouver region will be able to get married in the Anglican church starting Thursday, after Bishop Melissa Skelton’s approval.
RICHARD LAM / PNG
The Anglican bishop for the Metro Vancouver region has approved same-sex marriages in her diocese, beginning Thursday.Bishop Melissa Skelton made the decision despite delegates of the national Anglican Church narrowly defeating the proposal during a July 12 vote at their general synod in Vancouver.In the latest move in a worldwide Anglican conflict that has gone on for decades, Skelton seized on a compromise that the national church’s bishops offered a few days after the defeated vote, which would allow individual dioceses to adopt a “local option” on same-sex marriage rites.Many of the country’s Anglicans had been bitterly disappointed when the motion to allow same-sex marriages lost by the slimmest of margins earlier this month.The synod vote had required a 66.6 per cent majority from each of the church’s three delegate groups: the laity, clergy, and bishops. In a secret ballot the laity voted 80.9 per cent in favour and the clergy 73.2 per cent in favour. But the bishops of Canada defeated the motion, with two abstaining and just 62.2 per cent in favour.In recent weeks several Anglican dioceses across the country, including on Vancouver Island and in southern Ontario, have also announced they will go ahead with same-sex marriages as their local option.Some bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada, which has roughly 500,000 members, have been allowing priests to perform “blessings” of same-sex “unions” since the early 2000s. But Canadian Anglican leaders have generally considered it another step to formally sanctify same-sex marriages, something which the U.S. arm of the Anglican Church has endorsed in recent years.
Melissa Skelton, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, was elected Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of B.C. and Yukon on May 12, 2018.
RICHARD LAM /
Skelton said she authorized using a rite for same-sex marriages in her diocese, called New Westminster, beginning August 1 in the name of “making room” for diverse theological viewpoints.Despite the pain many Anglicans on both sides of the marriage issue have been feeling in the past few weeks, Skelton said Monday that her aim is to “try to hold together” the different views that liberal, Indigenous and conservative Canadian Anglicans have on LGBQT issues.Even though she has been home ill in recent weeks, Skelton said she had spent much of the day preparing the formal same-sex marriage rite that could be used throughout the diocese, beginning Thursday.In a statement Skelton also emphasized “no priest will be compelled to officiate at the marriage of a same-sex couple.” She will also require that “any same-sex couple wishing to be married satisfy all the typical and important requirements for marriage, (including) proper preparation for marriage (and) at least one of the couple having been baptized.”The government of Canada legally approved same-sex marriage in 2005. The United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, had already endorsed the concept more than a decade earlier, while blessing thousands of civil unions in the meantime.However, in Canada and around the world virtually all evangelical Protestant denominations, and the Catholic church, will not allow their clergy to perform same-sex marriages. There have also been few reports of orthodox Muslim imams or Sikh priests performing same-sex rites. Some liberal Jewish and Westernized Buddhist clergy will do firstname.lastname@example.org