A reflection on General Synod 2019 by a Huron youth delegate
By Sydney Brouillard-Coyle
“We will not have unity in our church as long as we marginalize and oppress a large group of Christians. Nobody should ever feel unsafe or scared to come to a place of worship.” This was what I said as I addressed General Synod 2019 on the night of the marriage canon debate.
I began my comments with the question: “Does God hate me for being queer?” It’s a question that bore into my heart in the time leading up to General Synod as I wondered if the Church I love was ready to honour the possibility that I could have a relationship as loving and committed as the one I see in my parents. If not, I thought, what does that say about me and my relationship with God?
“Does God hate me for being queer?” In my address at General Synod, I explained that I got the answer to my question when I was with the other youth delegates, the night before General Synod began. As I was asking myself that question during an outdoor communion service, we were brought together by song: “love, love, love, love / people we are made for love / love your neighbour, love yourself / and love your God.”
As I sang this at the microphone, I had no idea that this song would turn into an anthem of healing and protest for the LGBTQ2+ community and our allies after the failure of the vote to amend the marriage canon. This was the song the youth delegates sang outside the hall after we were dismissed that night, and we sang it the next morning as everyone came for the communion service prior to the primate’s election. People spoke of how healing it was, to sing with us, to stand and listen, and to be with us in a time of immense grief and pain. Music was healing for us as individuals and as a whole for General Synod. No, music does not create unity, but it is a path to get there.
Music brought my home congregation of St. Paul’s, Essex, alongside our sister church of Trinity, Cottam, together in our pride service on August 11th. We used songs from General Synod and from a recently released resource from the Hymn Society: “Songs for the Holy Other”. It brought us together as we raised the pride flag, to show that we love and affirm all of God’s children, and we live out the call to love our neighbour.
This summer, I have heard members of the LGBTQ2+ community and allies express a desire for a program to assist parishes and dioceses in discerning the love we are called to in terms of marriage. In collaboration with people across the generations, we are proud to release “Respect for the LGBTQ2+ Community: A Study Program” that will be made available to Anglicans across Canada. This program is to assist individual congregations and dioceses in facilitating conversations on marriage and LGBTQ2+ rights in light of everything that is happening in our church and around the world.
The program will focus on four main areas: Community Building and Love, General Synod 2019, Changing the Conversation, and Where Do We Go from Here. This study program will be good for congregations regardless of whether they have yet to have the conversation or have already had the conversation and are looking into ways to be active allies in their wider community.
The Anglican Church of Canada is my home. It’s messy, it’s ugly, and it’s confusing in the best of times. But that’s all part of being “home”. Home is a place of family. We are a family. As we work together, talk together and pray together, my hope is that my generation will be the last to deal with the pain and trauma that comes from wondering “does God hate me for being queer?” Everyone has a place in the kingdom of God, and God’s love is one that is unconditional for all of God’s precious children.
Sydney Brouillard-Coyle was the youth delegate to General Synod 2019
and is the music director at St. Paul’s, Essex.