Anglican Church of Canada
(Photo : SimonP/Wikimedia/CC)
St. Paul's Church, Halifax. The oldest Anglican Church in Canada, built in 1750.

The Anglican Church of Canada will vote today on altering the definition of marriage to include same-sex marriages. The voting is a part of six-day General Synod that began last week in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto.

The General Synod is held every three years where hundreds of Anglican members from all over the country assemble to discuss matters of significance to the church.

If the rule is passed, it would change the denomination's definition of marriage, and would permit clergy to officiate gay marriages.

For the resolution to be passed, two-thirds of the delegate votes are needed. Delegates include laity, clergy, and bishops, however, the leadership in the church had suggested in February that the approval of the change is unlikely.

The indigenous bishops are opposed to the same-sex marriage which they say is a Western culture approach, and that the aboriginal perspective on the issue was ignored in the debates, according to CBC News.

The discussions leading up to today's votes started three years ago, when the previous General Synod set up a commission to introduce a motion on changing the definition of marriage adopted by the denomination in 1893 founding statement.

The motion was drafted by Michelle Bull in 2013, whose husband is a minister in Nova Scotia, and wanted to preside over their daughter's marriage to her lesbian partner in 2010.

The panel was directed to reach out to the diverse members of the church to involve them in the discussion.

"I'm convinced full inclusion is the Christian way," said Alistair McCollum, rector of St. John the Divine on Quadra Street and archdeacon of the Tolmie area, who is an advocate of same-sex marriage.

"There is still a large part of the church that is struggling with this and they are good-hearted. ... But we need to use our hearts and heads and follow the prime principles of love and justice," he added.

The commission included a statement of conscience in the draft to allow congregation and clergy who believe marriage should be exclusive to heterosexual couples to be exempt from taking part in gay weddings.

However, Anglicans who back the doctrine of the one-man-one-woman marriage are disappointed that such a resolution was introduced in the church.

"... reason does not support the notion that doctrinal declarations can be decided upon by popular opinion. The Church was never intended to be ruled as a democracy, with God's eternal will being decided upon--or worse yet, His revelation reneged--by popular vote. It shouldn't be up to me or any other layperson to decide what is and what isn't God's revealed truth. The fact that I have to write this letter to defend one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Church as made clear by Scripture, tradition and reason is disheartening to say the least," a member named Josh Brown said in a published letter to the commission.