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Sanctuary: Our Church is a Safe Space

posted 3 May 2018, 12:18 by Gary van der Meer   [ updated 12 Dec 2019, 09:33 ]

The graphic above appeared in my social media feed this week, an astonishing reminder that it has already been five years since Archbishop Colin Johnson granted St. Anne's the local option to bless the relationships of same-sex couples. Since that milestone, our local option has been upgraded to allow us to offer same-sex marriage. We await the decision of General Synod, our national decision-making body, in June 2019, on our continued local option status. The vote at the previous General Synod in 2016 was dramatically close, and the canons of the Anglican Church of Canada require that this vote be repeated at the next General Synod in order to become the permanent policy of our denomination.
How we got here is worth a review. The St. Anne's congregation expressed interest in becoming more inclusive about 15 years ago. We had to demonstrate to the Archbishop that we had built a broad consensus of our community and especially that we had not bullied our community down this road. This process required study and conversation. Our Discernment Sunday took the form of a Café Eucharist with round tables for discussion, and presentations on scripture and theology, the recent history of lesbian and gay liberation movements, and the "lived experience" of gay and lesbian members of congregation.

We were delighted to present our process to the Diocese and to receive our designation. We put the rainbow on the church sign. We walk with the Proud Anglicans group in the Pride Parade. We run/walk in the Pride & Remembrance Run. We have not celebrated any same-sex marriages, though the representation of gays and lesbians in our community has increased.

Our St. Anne's Safe Church process has raised deeper questions about safe space. It's time for a review: Is St. Anne's a safe space? Are we welcoming, accepting, or affirming? We have been exploring the idea of Sanctuary - for those who have been harmed, for those who are questioning and looking for a safe place to ask questions and, with God's help, to find their way.

The Rev. Canon Gary van der Meer
May 3, 2018

"The Church is on a Journey" graphic is from an article that is worth reading! Have a look.