The reverend of three local Anglican churches says he’s received permission to authorize same-gender marriages despite the failure of a vote last month that would have amended marriage canon in Canada.
Rev. Jeff Donnelly, the parish pastor of St. Saviour’s in Nelson, St. Mark’s in Kaslo and St. Michael and All Angels in Balfour, says he has been given the green light to marry same-gender couples by Rev. Dr. Lynne McNaughton, who is the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay.
Donnelly said his churches had already been symbolically blessing, if not authorizing, same-gender marriages since 2016.
“There’s been really overwhelming support, pretty much unanimous that we want to support it,” he said.
The national vote at the July 12 General Synod required a two-thirds majority from the three houses of the Anglican Church to pass. Despite receiving 81 per cent approval from the House of Laity, 72 per cent from the House of Priests and 62 per cent from the House of Bishops, the vote failed because the latter house was just short of the required votes.
The result, Donnelly said, has led to anger and the misconception that the Anglican Church does not support same-gender marriages.
“We basically said as a church that that is acceptable, that is OK. But those who choose not to, we will respect their teaching, their view as well.”
The three churches are able to hold same-gender marriages because of a local option made available to bishops who can authorize the weddings within their diocese. McNaughton has previously said she will give permission to any requests from parishes within the Diocese of Kootenay, which includes churches in the Kootenays and Okanagan.
The decision to add same-gender marriage, Donnelly said, keeps the churches in step with the community they serve.
“This is a very progressive church on many, many issues. The Anglican church in the Diocese of the Kootenay is also very progressive on many social issues, a lot of them are social justice issues. This is just a natural extension of who the people here are.”
Donnelly has been parish pastor of the three local churches since 2015. He was in attendance at the General Synod in Vancouver for the July 12 vote and believes the proposed amendment would have passed if three bishops who were absent with medical issues had been able to vote.
“It really highlighted this way of doing things doesn’t work,” said Donnelly. “It’s a very old, convoluted way of doing governance in the church, and basically it’s helped us to recognize that we need to change this. It didn’t work. It’s a broken system as far as we’re concerned.”
Regardless of the vote, people who identify as LGBTQ can be married in local Anglican churches. The only pre-requisite is one person has to be a baptized Christian, although Donnelly said that’s not necessarily a hard rule.
Donnelly has never officiated a same-gender wedding, but said he’d love to see it happen at one of his churches.
“I would be really delighted if we did.”