'Old way' followers to face off at June synod against supporters of same-sex unions
May 12, 2007
Faith and Ethics Reporter
LOWVILLE, Ont. — For conservative Canadian Anglicans, a rejection by their church of same-sex marriage blessings next month is no longer enough. They now want the clock turned back on how gays are ministered.
Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, the head of Anglican Essentials Canada, a leading orthodox group, is travelling the country to rally opposition to resolutions before the June synod in Winnipeg that would let local churches decide for themselves whether to bless same-sex unions.
In a one-day conference of prayers, workshops and speakers on the opening day of the synod, Masters says supporters will be recruited to put forward a motion to restrict the ministering offered to gay couples.
"The decision before us is whether we will choose our biblical heritage or whether we will choose to walk apart," says Masters, who is also a pastor at St. George's Anglican Church in this hamlet north of Burlington.
"We think it's that simple."
The group wants a return to the days when church policy was to hate the sin, but love the sinner and help him or her remain celibate through prayer and counselling, which Masters describes as "the old way."
Masters and his group feel a recent statement by the Canadian House of Bishops telling ministers they can say the Eucharist with same-sex couples married in civil ceremonies, but not bless their unions, goes too far.
"The pastoral suggestions that are made imply that this is a holy relationship, which is to receive the full support of the church," says Masters, whose group presents itself as a "lifeboat" for those who feel the church has become too liberal.
The bishops' statement suggests they want same-sex blessings to be approved at the synod, he says, which could lead to the church being forced from the worldwide communion.
If that happens, Masters says Essentials will petition Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual head of the church, to recognize his group as the official Anglican Church in Canada. "It's possible that by the end of June, the face of Anglicanism in Canada will change."
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