A push to have the Anglican Church of Canada sanction same-sex marriage finished two votes shy of success.

The council's general synod – its governing body – met in Vancouver this weekend. Among the items on the agenda for Friday night was a vote on whether the church should amend its marriage rules to permit same-sex unions.

To be successful, the motion required two-thirds support from the church's laypeople, clergy and bishops.

Although more than 80 per cent of Anglican laity and more than 70 per cent of clergy voted in favour of permitting same-sex marriage in the church, the total among bishops fell short. Twenty-three bishops voted in favour and 14 were opposed, meaning the amendment had 62 per cent support. Two bishops abstained.

Bishop Linda Nicholls, who was elected as primate or head of the church in Canada the following day, called the same-sex marriage issue a "challenging discussion" in a statement.

"There continue to be those who hold the traditional view that marriage can only be between a man and a woman while others believe the covenant of marriage can be extended to same-sex couples," she wrote.

Nicholls said the result of the vote would be "deeply painful" for younger members of the church and described their reaction as "the mourning of a church that was unable to find a way to live with differences."

The Diocese of Huron in southwestern Ontario, which Nicholls presided over prior to her election as primate, offers to bless civil same-sex marriages, but does not perform them due to the prohibition that was upheld Friday.

Rev. Kevin George of St. Aidan's Anglican Church in London, Ont. told CTV News London that he considered the result "devastating." He had been watching a livestream of the vote from the synod.

"You could hear in particular the youth who were out there wailing and crying when the vote was put up on the screen," he said.

"It was really rather a stark moment in the history of our church."

George invited LGBTQ people to attend his church Sunday in Pride colours as a show of solidarity.