May 1998: The Diocese of New Westminster voted on allowing same-sex union blessings for the first time. 179 voted for and 170 voted against. It was rejected by the Bishop due to the small margin.
June 1998: The last Lambeth Conference opened a non-binding vote that led to 70 for and 526 against blessing same-sex unions.
June 2001: The Diocese of New Westminster voted on the issue for a second time, 226 voted for and 174 voted against. The Bishop rejected it again.
June 15, 2002: The Diocese voted for the third time, 215 voted for and 129 against. The Bishop finally agreed and allowed it, on the condition a membership vote within the parish is conducted and the priest in charge officially consents.
2005: A moratorium was declared by the Diocese of New Westminster that stalled further requests and licenses in B.C.
June 2007: The General Synod met and acknowledged the issue was not a matter of ‘core doctrine,’ but dioceses were not given the authority to approve same-sex blessings.
Oct. 13, 2007: The Diocese of Ottawa voted for same-sex blessings, 177 voted for and 97 voted against. The Bishop of Ottawa has not made a final decision.
Oct. 19, 2007: The Diocese of Montreal voted with 103 for and 57 against. The Bishop of Montreal has yet to make a final decision.
Oct. 2007: ‘The Widening Circle’ conference will be held at Ontario’s Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church, where the covenant and the implications of same sex blessings will be discussed.
June 2008: The next Lambeth Conference will take place in Canterbury, England.
2010: The General Synod will meet in Halifax to discuss the matter.
A fight over terms?
A wedding is a sacramental issue, meaning it is something that has to be performed by the entire church, unlike a blessing which is a covenant between two people in the setting of a prayer service.
Less than ten blessings have been performed at St Paul’s, mostly because people seem more interested in wedding ceremonies, something the Anglican authorities are not yet willing to consider.
“I almost think what is being discussed right now is all redundant,” says Richard Van Delft, the rector’s warden at St Paul’s, “because the government of Canada has already passed it as a marriage act. If this [Anglican same-sex blessings] goes through on a national level, officially allowing the blessing of same-sex unions, then I think, we will inevitably get same-sex marriage approval by the church.”