By Hilary White
  OTTAWA, Ontario, October 17, 2007 ( – Lay and clerical members of a major diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada have voted to allow ministers, “whose conscience allow”, to ask permission to perform “blessings” for same-sex unions. Many delegates at the meeting, as well as observers around the world, warned that the decision is likely to exacerbate the growing schism in the Worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue. 
  The crisis was precipitated in 2003 when the US branch of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, consecrated a divorced active homosexual as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and decided to allow same-sex blessings.
  The Ottawa delegates, including clergy and laity, voted 177 to 97 to ask Ottawa Bishop John Chapman to allow ministers to ask to bless homosexual partners in Ottawa’s Anglican churches. The Anglican Church of Canada agreed in June this year that same-sex blessings do not conflict with the “core doctrines” of the Church. The Montreal diocese will vote on a similar motion this weekend.
  The final decision in Ottawa remains with the bishop who, although known to be generally in favour, has said he will consult with other bishops both nationally and internationally. “It’s not helpful to walk alone. We’re not afraid to walk alone but we don’t want to walk alone,” Chapman told those assembled.
  In related news, bishops in the countries of the southern hemisphere and some in North America are joining to bring some order out of the present state of chaos in the Anglican Church in general and particularly among conservatives.
  David C. Steinmetz, a professor of the History of Christianity at The Divinity School at Duke University in Durham, N.C., wrote in the Orlando Sentinel that the divisions in the Anglican Communion around the world are being substantially addressed by some bishops and laity.
  After the consecration of Gene Robinson, a group of bishops in Africa offered episcopal oversight to groups of so-called “conservative” or doctrinally Christian Episcopalians in what effectively became off-shore dioceses. Despite wide divisions over some points of doctrine between the groups, particularly over the ordination of women to the ministry, a meeting in the US of various traditional Anglican bishops may show a way forward.
  The Common Cause College of Bishops was founded this September at a meeting in Pittsburgh of bishops and bishops-elect from the Episcopal Church, the Reformed Episcopal Church, the Anglican Mission in America, the Anglican Province of America, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, the Anglican Network in Canada, as well as missionary bishops from Uganda and Kenya.
  In a joint statement, the bishops of this group “repented” of the divisions between them that had hampered their ability to address the homosexual crisis. The group promised to meet every six months as a continuing College of Bishops.
  This new Anglican church branch, if successfully integrated into the greater structure of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, would now include over 600 congregations and would enjoy the support of most of the bishops of the global south, those, in other words, who represent the great majority of the world’s Anglicans.
  As the crisis grows, so does pressure on Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to decide who will and will not be invited to attend next year’s Lambeth conference. Every ten years , bishops of the Anglican Church from around the world meet in Lambeth, a suburb of London, to discuss matters of importance for the whole denomination. Delegates must be invited and an invitation to attend is considered the confirmation of legitimacy of a bishop and his flock within the Communion.