By a happy chance, the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Toronto on Saturday coincided with Toronto’s Pride parade later the same day.
Joining the crowd were two gay men, Randy Pierce and Kim Hutchinson, who had just met a week ago. The pair, who wore khaki shorts and short-sleeved dress shirts, had come to see the Queen.
“We’re here to see the real Queen and the other queens,” Mr. Pierce said, outlining the couple’s plans for Sunday. “We’ve got time to leave and change and put on our happy gear. We had to tone it down for the real Queen, and spice it up for the others.”
The synchronicity provided an opportunity for a timely and thoughtful reflection by Douglas Stoute, Dean of St James Cathedral, on the theme of inclusion in the church, in a sermon calling for the Anglican Church to hold a “respectful, inclusive dialogue with all God’s people”.
“The church is undergoing a rebirth,” the Very Reverend Stoute told the congregation. “It is at times destructive.” He noted that some in the Anglican church have sought to defend traditional biblical ideas of who belongs and who does not, a reference to a schism in the Anglican church over the blessing of same-sex unions.
“A church grounded by inclusiveness and openness is becoming more relevant,” he said.
“Polarization within Anglicanism is not new,” Rev. Stoute added, noting the 16th-century division between Catholicism and Protestantism and the 19th century dispute between high church and low church.
“Throughout history Anglicanism has sought to find a middle road,” he added. “It is a recognition that we do not have all the answers. It requires that we let go of pride and reach out to listen with open minds and open hearts.”
(Read more at National Post_)
This is timely on two counts. The Canadian church recently disappointed by fudging a decision on church blessing for same-sex partnerships. Last year, the proposal was passed by a comfortable majority, but failed nevertheless because the proposal needed separate majorities from each of laity, clergy and bishops – and comfortable majorities in the first two groups sat alongside a narrow loss among the bishops. This year, early expectations were that a fresh vote would get the three separate majorities required. This did not happen. Although the atmosphere was reported to be more conciliatory, with an increased commitment to listening to each other, the fact remains that the church remains divided, and has failed to accept a decision on inclusion that has the support of a clear majority overall. The Canadian church would do well to take Dean Stoute’s words to heart.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, an announcement is expected later this week which will confirm the first openly gay Anglican bishop, joining the Episcopalians Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool in the US, and Eve Brunne in Sweden as the world’s first openly gay or lesbians selected for ordination as bishops. (There have been openly gay bishops before, but in the earlier cases, they were not open about their sexuality until after selection).