Victoria’s largest Anglican church moves toward equality

Same-sex union blessings are a step in right direction, parishioners say

Kit Pearson

Better late than never.

The congregation at Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral voted overwhelmingly last week to allow same-sex blessings in the church, more than a decade after Vancouver-area Anglican churches did the same.

“The Anglican church has been talking about this for more than 30 years,” Rev. Logan McMenamie says.

“In some ways it’s disabled us, but it’s an important decision. It’s really a justice issue.”

The 148-14 vote in favour of the blessings means gay couples can now hold such ceremonies inside Christ Church Cathedral, although McMenamie still cannot conduct the legal portion of same-sex ceremonies.

“The vote was a formal recognition that we are welcome and we are equal,” says parish member Kit Pearson, who along with her partner, Katherine Farris, has been attending the church for five years.

“Of course, it’s not absolutely equal because we can’t get married. … It’s just a step along the way.”

Pearson, 66, says she and Farris have never experienced prejudice under the cathedral’s roof.

They have chosen to remain a part of the Anglican church despite its delayed embrace of homosexual equality.

“I think a church, like any other institution, is run by humans, and humans have many faults,” she says. “You could be married in the hall by a justice of the peace, then go into the church and have your marriage blessed, which is a little ridiculous.”

McMenamie laments the parish members he has lost because of the slow changes, but said more progress will be made at upcoming diocese gatherings.

“We’re now one of six dioceses in Canada that permits same-sex blessings,” he says.

James Cowan, the outgoing bishop of the Anglican Diocese of B.C., formally authorized same-sex blessings in January.

Cowan oversees parishes on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, while the Anglican diocese for Vancouver-area parishes was the first in Canada to allow same-sex blessings in 2002.

“I think it’s a very good thing for the church,” McMenamie said. “We want to stay together, learn together, grow together.”

dpalmer@vicnews.com