Report on G.S. delay on S/S Blessings

New Zealand postpones decision on same-sex blessings

Posted on: May 12, 2016 8:30 AM – (N.Z. TAONGA)

Related Categories: New Zealand, sexuality, synod

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has postponed a decision on whether or not to permit the blessing of same sex marriages until 2018. The proposal had been made by the Church’s “Way Forward” group which had been mandated by it’s the 2014 General Synod with coming forward with proposals; but after days of discussion at this year’s Synod, the decision has been delayed.

Instead, the Synod voted to postpone the decision until 2018 “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time. The motion that was passed by the Synod also “establishes and commits to pray for a working group to be appointed by the Primates [of the province] to consider possible structural arrangements . . . to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships.”

The three Primates of the Province, Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua, told Anglican Taonga: “We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected, but we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”

A number of General Synod members gave their reactions to Anglican Taonga.

New Zealand postpones decision on same-sex blessings

Posted on: May 12, 2016 8:30 AM

Related Categories: New Zealand, sexuality, synod

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has postponed a decision on whether or not to permit the blessing of same sex marriages until 2018. The proposal had been made by the Church’s “Way Forward” group which had been mandated by it’s the 2014 General Synod with coming forward with proposals; but after days of discussion at this year’s Synod, the decision has been delayed.

Instead, the Synod voted to postpone the decision until 2018 “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time. The motion that was passed by the Synod also “establishes and commits to pray for a working group to be appointed by the Primates [of the province] to consider possible structural arrangements . . . to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships.”

The three Primates of the Province, Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua, told Anglican Taonga: “We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected, but we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”

A number of General Synod members gave their reactions to Anglican Taonga. The Assistant Bishop of Auckland, Jim White, was unhappy with the outcome: “I am deeply disappointed by further delay on making our church fully inclusive,” he said.

Another member unhappy with the decision was the Revd Richard Bonifant, from Auckland, who said: “We called this motion ‘A Way Forward,’ but I have come to think of it as something more like the ‘Land of Promise’. . . Once more, we find we cannot go into that land. This time in the wilderness comes at great cost to us.”

But the decision as welcomed by others. “For conservatives the ‘A Way Forward’ report left us feeling unprotected in our theological position,” the Archdeacon of Nelson, Tim Mora, said. “The new working group needs to constantly come back to the conservatives, to be sure that the recommendations are acceptable to them, before they bring it back to the next General Synod.”

He said that there was “a definite will from the conservatives to look for a way that will protect our integrity and allow us to stay together.”

  • Click here for more detailed reports on the debates by Anglican Taonga.

Another member unhappy with the decision was the Revd Richard Bonifant, from Auckland, who said: “We called this motion ‘A Way Forward,’ but I have come to think of it as something more like the ‘Land of Promise’. . . Once more, we find we cannot go into that land. This time in the wilderness comes at great cost to us.”

But the decision as welcomed by others. “For conservatives the ‘A Way Forward’ report left us feeling unprotected in our theological position,” the Archdeacon of Nelson, Tim Mora, said. “The new working group needs to constantly come back to the conservatives, to be sure that the recommendations are acceptable to them, before they bring it back to the next General Synod.”

He said that there was “a definite will from the conservatives to look for a way that will protect our integrity and allow us to stay together.”

  • Click here for more detailed reports on the debates by Anglican Taonga.

_________________________________________________________________

I am one Chrischurch diocesan Anglican priest in ACANZP who can fully understand the acute disappointment of  Bishop Jim White (Auckland Assistant Bishop), whose reaction to the delaying tactic of the General Synod 2016 decision – to refer the prospect of providing a rite for the Blessing of a civilly contracted Same Sex Marriage, to the next Session of General Synod in 2018:

‘ The Assistant Bishop of Auckland, Jim White, was unhappy with the outcome: “I am deeply disappointed by further delay on making our church fully inclusive,” he said.’

Here is further evidence of the dismay experienced by another clergy-person in ACANZP:

“Another member unhappy with the decision was the Revd Richard Bonifant, from Auckland, who said: “We called this motion ‘A Way Forward,’ but I have come to think of it as something more like the ‘Land of Promise’. . . Once more, we find we cannot go into that land. This time in the wilderness comes at great cost to us.”

On the other hand, the conservatives in the Church, who have welcomed the delay, might be typified by the reaction of the Archdeacon  of Nelson, Tim Mora, representing one of two dioceses – the other was my own diocese of Christchurch – petitioning G.S. to delay any movement towards Same-Sex Blessings:

‘ “For conservatives the ‘A Way Forward’ report left us feeling unprotected in our theological position,” (that of opposition to Same-Sex Blessings) the Archdeacon of Nelson, Tim Mora, said. “The new working group needs to constantly come back to the conservatives, to be sure that the recommendations are acceptable to them, before they bring it back to the next General Synod.” He said that there was “a definite will from the conservatives to look for a way that will protect our integrity and allow us to stay together.”

One cannot miss the serious implications of the statement; that, if they do not get their own way on this issue, the conservatives in our Church – (best exemplified by the hastily enrolled membership of a newly introduced conservative entity from Australia, calling itself FoCA – the ‘Fellowship of Confessional Anglicans’ –  established in New Zealand just days before the General Synod Meeting) – will possibly/probably detach themselves from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific Islands!

One is left to wonder whether this was the implicit threat that led our General Synod to delay any further movement on this important issue for a further two years – a sad decision that has now disappointed many of us who had thought that the provision of a rite for the Blessings of a Same-Sex Civil Marriage would prove to the world that Anglicans are no longer content to encourage the sins of sexism and homophobia.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

 

 

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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3 Responses to Report on G.S. delay on S/S Blessings

  1. davidearle says:

    I was just looking in a bit more depth at the report itself and I wonder what it is the self-titled conservatives want to happen in addition to the report. The recommendation of the report was to start a three year process to confirm the changes and bring back to the General Synod in 2018. Which would, I assume, have allowed for minor changes and clarifications. So it sounds like a demand for a total rethink of the approach, or else offering water-tight assurances that can’t be given.
    The thing that hasn’t been commented on so much is that this is in effect a delay until at least 2021, as the 2018 General Synod will only be able to approve in principle and it will still have to come back to the next one. And then diocesan synods will need to decide if they support the use of a same sex blessing (assuming that approach survives).
    Blessing and thank you for continuing to take a strong support stand for LGBTI rights in the church.

  2. kiwianglo says:

    Thank you, David, for your response here. You have alerted me to the fact that the process of delay will be much more extended than at first seemed possible. With your permission, I might just quote you in a comment on the blog of Peter Carrell, at Anglican Down Under – to make that very point. This will no doubt please the doubters but give little comfort for thos in our Church who are longing for justice on this issue. Blessings, Fr. Ron

    • davidearle says:

      Please do repeat my comment. It is important that we are all fully informed of the consequences of this delay. And the implication that the objecters are trying to achieve more than would be doable within the second round of consultation. For example if they just wanted more solid legal assurance or clearer word then I think that could all have been done through the second round.

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