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'It's a when, and not an if,' says Anglican parish priest ready to move forward with same-sex marriages

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2019-03-24 CBC/Radio-Canada

a man wearing glasses: Submitted by Jonathan Rowe © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Submitted by Jonathan Rowe

One Anglican parish in St. John's is ready to allow same-sex couples to get married under its roof — but is caught in the middle of a waiting game.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005.

"Things seems to take a long time to happen in the church, and for an institution that's 2,000 years old, that kind of makes sense," said Father Jonathan Rowe, director at St. Michael's and All Angels Anglican Church in St. John's. 

Rowe said the Anglican Church has been having conversations regarding human sexuality, same-sex unions and most recently, same-sex marriage.

On Sunday, Rowe's parish passed a motion during their annual meeting to request permission from the Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador to, "offer the sacrament of Holy Matrimony to all couples who are legally entitled to marry in Canada, as soon as such an option becomes possible in this diocese."

I'm still young enough that I like the idea of being a bit of a renegade, but at the same time I recognize that not everybody is on board with this. - Father Jonathan Rowe

The conversations, said Rowe, have been ongoing since before his time, beginning in the 1970s, and he believes they will continue for a long time after he's gone. 

"The Anglican church is not of one mind on sexuality, on marriage, but we're in a process of discernment " he told CBC Radio's On the Go.

Rowe said the Anglican Church of Canada is in the midst of a process to change its regulations surrounding marriage and how marriage is administered within the church. This will allow for anybody who is legally permitted to get married in Canada, to be married in an Anglican church, he said.

In other areas of Canada, some Anglican parishes are allowing for same-sex marriage, based on a primary approval for the changing of the marriage canon that happened in 2016, but Rowe said that motion has to pass through two consecutive general senates first. 

The next general senate will happen in July.

"Right now in Newfoundland we're waiting to see that process through," Rowe said.  

"I'm ready to go right now. We're saying St. Michael's is ready to go right now. When the church is ready, we're ready."

'Not always there'

Rowe told CBC News that he was ready to move forward with same-sex marriages for some time, but that wasn't always the case. 

"I was not always there, and there's a part of me, to my shame, would recognize that not even 10 years ago I would not have been in the place I'm in right now, ready to be so affirmative," he said. "Life changed."

The Bishop has asked parishes in Newfoundland to be patient and respect the process, according to Rowe, regardless of what other parishes across Canada are doing. 

Rowe joked that he would love to go rogue. 

"I'm still young enough that I like the idea of being a bit of a renegade, but at the same time I recognize that not everybody is on board with this," he said. 

"There is a general feeling that the church is ready to move forward with this, and I really think that it's a when, and not an if."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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