Anglican same-sex rite performed in Vancouver

Anglican same-sex rite performed in Vancouver – News

Michael Kalmuk’s eyes teared up when he was finally permitted to recite the solemn Anglican vows that would bless his relationship with longtime partner Kelly Montfort. In what was a first for the 70-million-member worldwide Anglican Church, the homosexual couple took part May 28 in Vancouver in an officially approved rite that affirmed before God their monogamous relationship.

The ceremony came just one day after the primates of the church, declaring there is no consensus on the issue and warning that it could lead to schism, said they could not approve such ceremonies. In London, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on May 29 expressed “sadness and disquiet” at the Vancouver action.

The contentious same-sex blessing was performed on the same day that Vancouver-area Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham publicly announced the wording of the formal religious rite his priests can now use to bless the relationships of homosexual couples.

“We’ve kind of helped write history here,” Kalmuk, 49, said outside picturesque St. Margaret’s Cedar Cottage Anglican Church. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time–in our case, through 21 years of being together.”

The couple exchanged vows on the same day the Vancouver-area bishop formally permitted six of his congregations to use the rite–despite the warnings from the primates and heated dissent from seven local parishes. Although same-sex blessing ceremonies have been conducted informally and often secretly in scattered Anglican churches in parts of Europe and the U.S., Vancouver’s action marked the first time they have been performed after being approved in an open way by both a diocese and its bishop.

In an attempt to deflect angry conservatives who believe the Bible condemns homosexual relationships, Ingham was at pains to explain that the rite of blessing should not be confused with a marriage ceremony. Diocesan spokesman Neale Adams added that marriage between a woman and a man is one of the key sacraments of Anglican Christianity, governed by Canada’s national Anglican Church. A same-sex rite, Adams said, is a locally produced nonsacramental ritual on a level with a priest’s blessing of a house or a family.

Nevertheless, seven conservative parishes in British Columbia that oppose Ingham’s stance issued a statement saying, “Never before has a single diocese so abruptly and brazenly repudiated the church’s 38 primates”–a reference to the May 27 statement by the world’s 38 Anglican primates, who convened in Brazil.–RNS

COPYRIGHT 2003 The Christian Century Foundation

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