TEC Presiding Bishop to preach at the Royal Wedding

Who is this preacher who backs gay marriage and opposes Trump?

Renowned for his stirring preaching style, self-deprecating humour and raucous laughter, Curry is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church — the Church of England’s sister body in the US.

Michael Curry
Reuters: Michael Curry, is the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the official Anglican church in the US.

While the choice reflects Ms Markle’s own African-American heritage and the couple’s transatlantic relationship, it is a break from tradition in that typically royal preachers are senior CofE clergy.

On top of that Curry is an outspoken figure on issues ranging from civil rights and Donald Trump’s presidency, to same-sex marriage in church and poverty. The couple’s decision to ask Curry is made all the more interesting by the fact they do not have a personal relationship with him. Rather the decision was made in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who baptised Ms Markle into the Church of England in a private ceremony and will officiate at the wedding.

A spokesman for Kensington Palace said of the Prince and Ms Markle’s choice: ‘The couple and the archbishop discussed a number of possibilities for a preacher.

‘Whilst Bishop Curry is not personally known to the couple, it was felt that given the fact that he is the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church as well as a wonderful speaker and preacher, it would be highly appropriate for him to be invited to speak.’

Welby warmly welcomed the announcement.

Archbishop of Canterbury

@JustinWelby

Welby has a close relationship with his American counterpart, despite backing the decision to impose sanctions on the Episcopal Church for allowing same-sex marriage. The ‘consequences’ came after the Episcopal Church first consecrated an openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, in 2003, and officially authorised gay marriage in 2015.

Curry, who is descended from slaves and sharecroppers in North Carolina and Alabama, has spoken of how his background influences his own passionate defence of same-sex marriage in church.

Last May he filed a ‘friend of the court’ briefing in support of transgender people’s right to use the bathroom of their choice.

And in response to the 2016 decision against the Episcopal Church, which was made by the other leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion, most of who are from the socially conservative global south, Curry issued a robust commitment to his pro-LGBT stance.

‘Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all,’ he said.

‘For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain,’ he added.

Speaking to his fellow Anglican leaders who had imposed the sanctions, he added: ‘I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.’

But it is not just sexuality that Curry is outspoken on.

Shortly after preaching at the royal wedding on May 19, Curry will take a leading role in a march on Washington to denounce Trump’s ‘America First’ policies as ‘heresy’.

The demonstration outside the White House on May 24 is aimed at ‘reclaiming Jesus’ after Trump’s administration has received unfettered support from leading white evangelical figures. It is accompanied by a damning statement, signed by Curry, which is heavily critical of developments in US public life.

‘We are living through perilous and polarising times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake,’ it begins. ‘We reject the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership.’

Signatories also reject ‘misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God’.

The declaration represents a comprehensive attack on President Trump’s agenda, continuing: ‘We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees, who are being made into cultural and political targets, and we need to remind our churches that God makes the treatment of the “strangers” among us a test of faith (Leviticus 19:33-34). We won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children, and we will resist repeated attempts to deny health care to those who most need it. We confess our growing national sin of putting the rich over the poor. We reject the immoral logic of cutting services and programmes for the poor while cutting taxes for the rich.’

In an apparent personal reference to Trump – without naming him – it says: ‘We reject the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. Politicians, like the rest of us, are human, fallible, sinful, and mortal. But when public lying becomes so persistent that it deliberately tries to change facts for ideological, political, or personal gain, the public accountability to truth is undermined.’

None of this is to say that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are making a deliberate statement in their choice, although Ms Markle herself has branded Trump ‘divisive’ and ‘misogynistic’. But they are hardly going to be ignorant of Curry’s profile and the implications that will be drawn from their choice.

The service will be broadcast to millions around the world. For Curry, who refers to himself as the CEO of the Episcopal Church – the Chief Evangelism Officer – the opportunity to talk passionately about what he calls the Jesus Movement won’t be missed.

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‘th(is) decision was made in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who baptised Ms Markle into the Church of England in a private ceremony and will officiate at the wedding.’

This little sentence in Harry Farley’s article for ‘CHRISTIAN TODAY’ indicates not only the willingness of the ABC to ‘go along with’ the couple’s decision to nominate TEC’s Presiding Bishop, The Most Revd. Michael Curry, an African-American, as designated Preacher at their Royal Wedding in Saint George’s Chapel, Windsor this weekend; but also, Archbishop Justin Welby’s positive encouragement. Having recently Baptized the Bride-to-be, the Archbishop of Canterbury is proving to be a loving pastor to those who seek his sacred ministry. 

Considering the fact that the American Episcopal Church (TEC) is still embargoed (largely as a result of GAFCON’s disapproval) from taking part in any ecumenical discussion purporting to represent the worldwide Anglican Communion – because of its innovative openness to Same-Sex Relationships – this has obviously not affected the Archbishop of Canterbury’s  decision to allow a non-Church of England bishop to preach at this Royal Wedding. (Normally, it would have been expected that a Bishop of the Church of England would have been invited to preach on such an occasion).

When one considers the fact that Bishop Michael Curry, TEC’s first black Presiding Bishop, is the leader of an Anglican Church that has spearheaded the movement towards the radical acceptance of Same-Sex Marriage, and the ordination of clergy and bishops in same-sex relationship – as well as an openness to all LGBT+ people in the Church – it is encouraging that the Head of the Church of England is willing to officiate at the same Wedding ceremony as the Presiding Bishop of TEC. 

One cannot but think that the ABC has come a long way along the road of acceptance of a new and welcoming attitude towards people on the margins of the Church – the epic mission that Jesus encouraged his followers to emulate. In articulating the message of love – rather than rejection of sinners (all of us are sinners – no less the membership of the Church – as acknowledged by Pope Francis, who once said: “who am I to judge?”) – Jesus said that this would be how their true discipleship would become known: – “They will know you are my disciples by your love”. This is in contradistinction to those conservative Churches which consign LGBT people to outer darkness, believing their own righteousness will secure them a place in heaven.

The fact that this Royal bride is ‘black and comely’, and will be hearing the Gospel of inclusion from another black American at her Wedding, is a sure sign that the Church of England, and its titular Head, H.M. The Queen, are ready to embrace the God-given diversity of creation in all its wonderful richness and variety.

“God has gone up with a merry noise, Alleluia!.  He has gone up with the sound of the trumpet, Alleluia, Alleluia!” God is LOVE.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Anglican Diocese of Lichfield offers ‘Open Table’

Welcoming and honouring LGBT+ people


Lichfield Diocese News –  DATE  9 May 2018 – AUTHOR, Pete Bate

The bishops of Lichfield Diocese are calling for a Church where LGBT+ people feel welcomed and honoured.

In a letter sent to all clergy and lay ministers in the diocese, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave; the Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Geoff Annas; the Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory; and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, emphasise that “everyone has a place at the table.”

The letter updates clergy on discussions underway in the national Church on the ‘radical Christian inclusion’ called for by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and draws attention to the work being done on a major new Teaching Document.

In Lichfield Diocese, Bishop Michael has convened a consultation group for LGBT+ Christians to share their views and concerns, and this has met several times.

The letter concludes: “We want Lichfield to be a diocese in which people of any sexual orientation or gender identity feel welcomed and honoured in our churches.”

It focuses on the pastoral dimensions of the issues involved and says: “… as bishops we are committed to encouraging people with differing views to meet, pray and talk together.” The letter does not address the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriages.

The bishops highlight the practical consequences of ‘radical Christian inclusion’ locally including the importance of access for all to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the affirmation of LGBT+ people in roles of leadership and the importance of mission to and alongside LGBT+ people.

The Diocese of Lichfield has almost 600 churches in an area with a population of over two million which includes Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the Black Country and most of Shropshire.

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In my clerical vocation, I have pastored congregations of two Churches whose patron was Saint Chad, the saintly Bishop of Lichfield. I think, considering his great pastoral gifts, Chad would, in our day and age – when much more is known about the aetiology of human sexuality –  have supported this initiative of the Bishops of the Diocese of Lichfield to issue a proclamation of inclusivity extended to the LGBT+ community.

The Bishops said: “Our basic principle is that all people are welcome in God’s Church: everyone has a place at the table”. When one compares this theological nicety with the discrimination of the Prelates of GAFCON and their offshoots in the worldwide Anglican Communion, whose disrespect for LGBT+ people has led them to proclaim their own exclusive doctrine of salvation in the Jerusalem Declaration of Faith (virtually condemning homosexual people and others of diverse gender identity to eternal damnation), one cannot but wonder whether they believe in the same God and are living on the same planet as the rest of us.

Sadly, the puritanical outlook of the GAFCON Primates relates directly to the Victorian ethos of prurient sexual mores that was taught and practised by many of the earlier Christian missionaries, for whom sexuality was a spiritual and political minefield. The conservative Evangelical Puritans who believed that sex was only for procreation and was otherwise banned from polite society were not slow to inculcate what became know as the ‘missionary position’ advocacy to the local native people, whose tribal customs were overcome by the inhibitions of the Victorian era of sexual mores.

Hitherto, the Church has supported the myth of binary sexual exclusivism, a  culture which was inherited from the Jewish tradition of creating a race and nation of Jewish adherents – which militated against the need to accommodate the reality of other nations and cultures in the diverse world created by the same God and Father of ALL  peoples God had created. With the arrival of Jesus, the Son of God – a Jew who thought differently – an understanding of the multiplicity and variety of humankind was brought into being destined to create a revolutionary idea of an inclusive community bound together – not by force of The Law but by the advocacy and polity of LOVE, the charism by which Jesus proclaimed his followers would be known and identified.

With his respect for women, and his treatment of sinners, Jesus in his day overturned the ingrained entitlement of the tradition of patriarchalism, by advocating the equality of all humanity in the sight of God – a plurality which did not sit well with the Jewish traditional ‘Keepers of The Law’, and a reason for which they conspired with the secular (Roman) authorities to have Jesus put to death. One of the areas in which, for instance, his Jewish critics vilified Jesus was in his pastorally light treatment of the perceived sexual sin of the ‘woman caught in the act of adultery’ while the men involved with her were seemingly let off the hook. This specific action of Jesus challenged the male superiority complex in matters of sexual responsibility and judgmentalism.

Although Jesus did not directly address the matter of committed same-sex relationships, he was careful to say that heterosexual marriage was not for everyone. In his epic statement on the need for faithfulness in marriage, he appended a statement on the minority function of celibacy, where three types of eunuch were described. One of these, which may well have included LGBT+ people, Jesus describes as “so from their mother’s womb”  – thus either incapable or not destined for a life of procreative heterosexual marriage, which was considered to be ‘the norm’. When one considers the Genesis statement that ‘man was not destined to live alone’, this surely meant that partnership could also have referred to a non-procreative relationship of same-sex persons akin to that of heterosexual marriage, with monogamy and faithfulness as the criterion.

Bishop Michael Ipgrave of Lichfield; the Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Geoff Annas; the Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory; and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, emphasise that “everyone has a place at the table.” In doing this they are bringing the message of an Inclusive Gospel denied by GAFCON, which has pointedly refused to share with other members of the Body of Christ at the Eucharistic Table. In direct contrast, Churches like TEC, SEC and the Anglican Church of Canada – have taken care to include members of the LGBT+ community as ‘part and parcel’ God’s family – especially in the sacred context of the Celebration of The Eucharist.

The Diocese of Lichfield is obviously opening up the Church of England to an era of radical inclusion of a category of people in the Church and community whose needs are, at last, being  recognised and met by the leadership, which traditionally has always been slow to overcome outdated understandings of the diversity of the children of God, for each one of whom Christ came into this world to bring God’s love and redemption 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Belgian Cardinal affirms Gay Couple relationships

Belgian cardinal backs celebrating gay couples’ relationships

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A Belgian cardinal is considering a celebration of thanksgiving or prayer for gay couples in stable, lasting relationships.

After a meeting with delegates from a local gay working group last week, Cardinal Jozef De Kesel said he was concerned for their well-being and spoke of his respect for them.

He also spoke of gay couples’ relationships, noting these are not the same as Christian marriage between a man and a woman.

At the same time, he acknowledged the personal encounter gay couples have.

De Kesel wants to respond to gay couples’ requests when they are believers, involved in stable, lasting relationships and wish their relationships to benefit from the church’s symbolic recognition.

However, this recognition won’t be the same a religious marriage. Nor will it be an ecclesiastical blessing that too closely resembles the blessing of a marriage.

Nor would it involve an exchange of consent sealed by an exchange of rings.

Instead, if gay people want a Christian symbol of their proximity, a celebration of thanksgiving or prayer is more likely, De Kessel’s spokesman Geert De Kerpel says.

“To the extent that the church has maintained a certain reserve on the issue, it is to preserve the great value of marriage and the family to the greatest extent possible.”

Although Belgian media have suggested De Kesel is adopting a “revolutionary position,” his stance reflects the Belgian Church has already taken on gay couples’ relationships.

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Not exactly an opening towards the liturgical rite of Blessing of legally married Same-Sex couples in Church (which is now possible for New Zealand Anglicans, as described in the link provided above the first line here) but, nevertheless, a Roman Catholic nod towards the acceptance of faithful monogamous relationships of people of the same gender.

In common with Pope Francis’ one-time statement to a reporter on an aircraft, when asked what he thought of homosexual relationships: “If they love God, who am I to judge?” – this openness towards the acceptance of those in the Church who want their same-sex faithful relationships to be celebrated with their heterosexual sisters and brothers in their local congregation is the opposite of the homophobia with which some Christians are prone to view such relationships.

What is interesting in all of this is that faithful, loving relationship is what the Gospel is all about. For those incapable of heterosexual marriage, who are only able to relate to their own gender for a life-long partnership akin to marriage, the only way in which they can fully express their love in faithfulness and credibility in relationship with one another is  – as with their heterosexual counterparts – to ‘forsake all other – offering themselves to one another in sickness and in health, in trouble and in joy, unto their lives’ end’. This, of course, involves commitment!

All too much attention – especially with faithfully-partnered gays – is given to the sexual aspect of their relationship; when  (though this may be the source of their initial attraction) life together involves so much more than sex – which, however, is God-given and sanctified in its devotedness of one person to another in love. Journeying together through all of life’s vicissitudes is what enables a faithful loving couple to thrive in each and every challenge that life brings. A faithful loving relationship of two people to one another – as is so obvious in marriage – can be a beacon of light to those whose lives are spoiled by unfaithfulness, promiscuity and insecurity.

That our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are looking with interest upon our Anglican Church in New Zealand’s decision to open up to the acceptance of faithful monogamous same-sex couples, should reassure those among us who are fearful of the possible consequences of such a move – that God is working in other traditions than just our own to bring about a more just and loving outcome for one more minority in our wonderfully diverse and bountiful world.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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ACANZP – About to Vote on Motion 29 – Up-dated *

Slow start. Big finish

The General Synod spent all of Tuesday on Motion 29 – the motion on blessing same gender relationships. And after a slow start, we had a big finish.

LLOYD ASHTON  |  08 MAY 2018  |

The big debate about the principles of Motion 29 – according to the best-laid plans of those who organise General Synod – was to begin first thing on Tuesday, and to be done and dusted by lunchtime.

In fact, Motion 29 consumed the entire working day.

And it didn’t get started on the principles, the big picture stuff, till about 90 minutes before the scheduled 6pm end of the day.

There’d been the scene-setting, the throat-clearing – a brief overview of the history of the church’s grapplings with same gender relationships, and an equally brief explanation by the Motion 29 group of what it offered.

But much of the day after that was spent either in waiting – the synod spent hours in tikanga caucus – or on the minutiae of discussing possible amendments to the motion: should the threshold for a church blessing be set at a civil marriage or civil union, for example.

For some in the synod, those long delays were frustrating.

But then, about 4:30pm, it all came together.

The amendments to Motion 7 were settled (you can read the amended motion here), the switching between synod in conference mode and synod in session ended, a last-minute motion recognising Tikanga Pasifika’s perspective on these issues had been passed, the tikanga caucuses were over – for the day, at least – and the weary synod members got down to tin tacks.

Brace yourself for explosions, many would have thought.

Except the explosions, the anger, the evidence of pent-up frustrations, never happened.

What we experienced, as Archbishop Philip observed from the top table, were 90-odd “grace-filled moments”.

Those who spoke did so with passion, with evident conviction – but also with thoughtfulness, and with gentleness and respect (for the most part) for those on the other end of the arguments.

At about 5:45pm, Archbishop Philip drew a line under the debate, and adjourned for the evening.

As promised, no decisions were taken on Tuesday.

Those decisions are Wednesday morning’s work.

But here below we offer you, the reader, a taste of those late-in-the-day speeches.

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Dr Peter Carrell, who is the Archdeacon for Pegasus in Christchurch, and Christchurch’s Director of Education and Director of Theology House, was one of the first to his feet.

He suggested that, despite the Motion 29 group’s insistence that it was “never set a theological task… I have a conviction that there is profound theology here in what we are doing.”

On the one side, said Peter, using the language of St John, “we have a starting point along the lines of: ‘Where love is, there is God.’

“And where such love is – it may be blessed.’

“But on the other side, also in Johannine language: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’

“That understanding of the importance of commandments for our lives as disciples which underline God’s call to us to ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’

Crudely put, therefore, the debate was between: ‘Love versus holiness.

“And our struggle has been, that we cannot find a unifying theology of what could be called: ‘holy love.’

“We haven’t found it in this province… and I don’t think we have found it anywhere in the Communion.

Peter also predicted that, in time, a further ‘novelty’ will be required within Tikanga Pakeha, “one which offers precisely the safeguards such as Tikanga Pacifica has sought and obtained.”

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The Very Rev Ian Render, who is the Dean of Waiapu Cathedral, then spoke briefly:

“I have been ordained in this church for 31 years… and I’m not quite sure how I managed to stay in licensed ministry for 31 years as a gay, married man.

“I’m standing to remind you of all the people we have lost along the way. The people who were candidates for ordination – but who were turned down because of their relationships, or their declared sexuality.

“The people who have been left in limbo, for year, after year, after year…

“I would like, in this late stage of my stipended ministry life, to feel as though I – and everyone else like me – finally will have a place to stand in this church.

“Thank you for the graciousness that I have experienced in these past couple of days…

“Please give me, and others, a place to stand.

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The Rev Claire Barrie, of St Lukes, Mt Albert, said there’d been “a lot of talk, since 2014, about being a church of two integrities.

“But actually, as we sit here today, the talk of two integrities is still only talk.

“Our church currently has only one integrity: the status quo – and the place in which we stand now, is exclusive.

“As a church, in our canons and statutes and our sacramental life, our voice in the public square… in all those things, we still have no safe place for LGBT Anglicans, no place for their families, their friends, their ministries…

“The whole playing field, is the one single integrity – and that tells a number of our people that they don’t yet belong.

“That they are somehow wrong in the eyes of God. And there’s an assumption that the status quo is somehow neutral, or safe.

“And it is not. We know from research that young LGBT Anglicans are far more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

“That’s the fruit of the position that we hold now as a church.

“That’s the fruit of our gospel.

“And I’m so ashamed of that position.”

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Jay Behan, who is the Vicar of St Stephen’s Shirley, and one of the leading lights in the conservative evangelical movement, spoke against the motion, and sought to explain “why I can’t live with it.”

But first, he gave thanks – in particular, he gave thanks to the Motion 29 group.

“There have been times,” he said, “as a lonely clergy person in Christchurch, when you don’t feel like you’re heard. But the working group were fantastic in every interaction which I had with them, and in every other interaction I heard about.”

“This issue has never been,” he said, “for conservatives, about bigotry, or about exclusion, or about hatred.

“It’s a difference of opinion over how you love,” he said.

“Sometimes we love as we affirm and encourage. Sometimes we love by warning. But love has been at the heart of it.

“Because this issue, for some of us, goes to the heart of salvation. I know other people read the Scriptures differently.

“But for those of us who still think 1 Corinthians 6 says that some of this behaviour can see someone excluded from the Kingdom of God.

“If you believe that, and you love people, you can’t bless them. You have to warn them. Because you want the best for them.

“I can normally handle difference really easily. I don’t expect everyone to think the same as me, or behave the same as me.

“But on this particular issue, we have to be able to come before the Lord in good conscience.

“And I would ask that you respect the conscience of those who say: ‘We cannot go further with you’.

“There is deep sadness in that. We will continue to wish you the best. We will continue to pray for you. We will continue to minister the good news of Jesus.

“But we cannot move further.”

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Renee Santich, who is also a Diocese of Christchurch representative, and also a conservative, spoke of her “great compassion” for the people who find themselves at the epicentre of the debate.

But she said she was “compelled” to plead that this is “not about sexuality, but about what the church teaches about sin, repentance and salvation.”

She forecast that people would leave the Anglican Church once this motion had passed – “not in a flood, but in a slight, steady trickle.”

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There were several others who offered contributions to the korero, including Archdeacon Wendy Scott, Rev Al Drye, former Church Army Director Captain Peter Love, Rev Dr Tim Meadowcroft, and Bishop Api Qiliho, who spoke of his love for his gay son, and of his longing for a church that would embrace him.

The synod also heard moving speeches too, from younger synod members – from Cruz Karauti-Fox, from Manawa o te Wheke, and from Ataahua Hepi who represents Te Waipounamu, and who said “something had pushed me out of my chair, and made me get up””.

“This motion falls very much on my generation,” she said.

“I have many friends in the LGBT community. I myself am a part of the LGBT community.

“So for me, I am in fear. I am in fear that this church will not push (this motion) through. I am in fear that I will go home and I will not be able to tell my friends, that I will not be able to tell my family, that my church will accept civil unions. That I will go home with nothing.

“Because I want to go home and tell them: ‘My church accepts us.

‘My church accepts all of us.”

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The final speaker to the principle of the motion was the Rev Helen Roud, who is the Vicar General of the Diocese of Christchurch – and who began by recalling the pivotal act of her priesthood:

“I stand, and I raise the bread, and I break it.

“And I’m deeply aware that I am a broken person. And the people before me are a people of brokenness, and I’m part of a church which is full of brokenness.

“It is the church that Christ died for, and rose for.

“I come from Christchurch – (which is) a broken city, in more ways than one – and a diocese, (also) broken. Not always sharing understandings of Scripture.

“I look around us now, and I see and hear brokenness.

“But we are all saved by grace. Grace: it’s a beautiful word. And I see grace being outworked, as in our brokenness we try to work and resolve (this) together.

“And I see salt and light in what is before us.

“I’ve seen, in many congregations, people walk out the door for all sorts of reasons.

“Often over small hurts, that are hiding bigger ones.

“And I always try and leave the door open.

“And my prayer, especially for the people of Christchurch, is that among us all, and across our tikanga, is that through this motion, doors will be left open.

“Doors open for all.

“By grace we are saved. Thankyou.”

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At about 5:45pm, the Chancellor, Bruce Gray, QC, explained the sequence and the options by which the motion would be voted on, and a decision made – voting by conscience, by house, by tikanga, etc.

Immediately after his explanation, the president of the Synod, Archbishop Philip Richardson, declared an adjournment for the evening.

Voting on the motion is the first order of business for Wednesday.

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One striking note in the debate on Motion 29, our Church’s attempt to hold together the 2 divergent understanding of Same Sex Relationships, was the disctinction being made between the competing charisms of Love and ‘Holiness’.

Remembering that ‘holiness’ belongs to God alone (Jesus: “There is One Alone who is good”) I sincerely hope our General Synod, today, will opt for Love – the only one of these two charisms that we poor human beings are capable of by our own efforts.

This will ensure that people like myself have not lived our lives in vain – trusting completely in “The great love of God as revealed in the Son” for our redemption and the redemption of all for whom Christ died.

My prayer is that Motion 29 will succeed in its efforts to keep all faithful loving Anglicans within our Church. If the result of today’s proceedings causes any to leave, then may they have peace in doing so.

Jesus, Mercy; Mary, Pray.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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GENERAL SYNOD RESULTS – UP-DATED:

Prayers answered. See Link below:

http://anglicantaonga.org.nz/news/general_synod/yes

Further conservative reactions to Motion 29’s passage through G.S.

In the wake of General Synod’s decision to go along with the implications of Motion 29 – which will allow for a Church Blessing on Same-Sex Civil Married and Civil-Partnership Couples – it is inevitable that some of its most vociferous opponents should express their disappointment.

Two Leaders of the opposition who were General Synod members from our Christchurch Diocese  – Jay Behan and Al Dye – have already handed in their resignation from General Synod to the ACANZP Archbishops. Both men are members of the local branch of FCANZ, a GAFCON-related conservative organisation in Aotearoa that has consistently opposed the accommodation of homosexuality as a ‘natural’ state for a certain percentage of humans. This factor has dominated both GAFCON and its local adherents in FCANZ  and, despite the admittedly eirenic conversations on SSBs, it seems that FCANZ people are not happy with the outcome. See this link from FCANZ:

http://www.fcanz.org/media-messaging

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Trailer – Film on Pope Francis

‘Pope Francis – A Man of His Word’ – This is the title of a new documentary film made in the U.S.A. about the charismatic Pope Francis. Even the trailer is quite exciting!

Would that he were available – and it were possible – that he could become our next Anglican Bishop of Christchurch in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Click on the link, below for the trailer.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001kA92ZFUoUWKXCVTUEFArUsj8EIri0_19y2rLzEx9Nl7kIHTKif9lYPGGbZHRgZcu6vUTduYJwYxQu0HlGzJKCSl2YwUeQ3jrrUtO6VTyTXFWouMfvYmGHWwas27G-G_F9tIZ7O-hSX7kvoF0yMgrQl1MrC2a-LuR8KHEYkWF-VLU3s1Rv0vvKkk0A1h9e1v569sCYbhONrR46I6bl_JW5HlH0RxK1_8YmCROTntNu8TZX7eCL5JVmQ==&c=kM3JfewDoDmadaGv9A0lzB7pyBy6wREOVjTdpyN6SP2FRSS2e31qAw==&ch=cglfqMx3HESeWUxR7Ta8iuoVKvwqIN-fqLtjyIkqaoBL3ORU_4njfA==

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A Scottish Episcopalian – TEC, My Family

My Family

by Victoria Stock

I originally joined Old Saint Paul’s to sing in their choir. l’d been a passionate lifelong choral singer and had heard how great their choir was.

I’ve always gone to church and, while I considered myself a liberal Christian, the fact that it was also gay-friendly didn’t seem particularly relevant at the time. Still, the welcome I found went far beyond polite conversation over coffee and biscuits after the service. In its sermons, and in the way people treat one another, I found a place in which all are loved – regardless of what gender or sexuality you happen to be.

The people I came to know and love at the church reflected this; some were gay, some were straight. Some had a history of mental health problems, others didn’t, but we had all felt like outsiders in one way or another, and somehow, through all our differences, imperfections and irritations, we were able to love each other.

Still, while I was happy for others to fully embrace their sexuality, I had real problems with it. In my 20s, l’d made half-hearted attempts at coming out, before quickly running away again. Being told at the time that there was something psychologically wrong with me, that it was a phase, or against God’s created order, confirmed all of my underlying beliefs growing up. It was a sin – and it was disgusting. I made the decision to avoid my same-sex desires, as it was far less complicated than properly facing them. Then came the night of my 30th birthday.

After a few too many drinks, I got chatting to a girl who confessed that she too was attracted to girls. As the drink-fuelled conversation progressed into flirting, she slowly but firmly stroked my back up and down. In my mind, this was really not good. Except…it felt really good. Things didn’t go any further that evening, but I knew on a profound level that I could no longer hide from myself.

I met with a friend from church for coffee to try and make sense of it. A gay woman from our young adults’ group, she did not appear remotely fazed as I reluctantly whispered the unutterable and shameful truth: “I…I…like women”. There. I’d said it. Still, it took a lot of time and many similar conversations from the church for me to feel even remotely comfortable. With each passing sermon about God’s love for all – including those in same-sex relationships – it began to sink in. I eventually began to feel “normal’.

My family at Old Saint Paul’s saw me through my attempts at dating women, welcomed my first girlfriend, and were there to pick up the pieces when it came to an end. I joined other Scottish Episcopalians at my first Pride and went with church friends on trips to gay bars. As I became more open about my sexuality, I more passionately felt that people should not have to face a conflict between their faith and sexuality.

Last year, an opening came up to become a member of the General Synod, the Scottish Episcopal Church’s national decision-making body. It was also the year that the final vote took place to allow same-sex marriage in our churches. As I prepared an incredibly personal speech for the debate, I realised that the only way we could move forward as a church was through unity in our diversity. This was not a unity where all were in unanimous agreement, but rather a unity which accepts difference.

As I gave my speech – heart racing and legs wobbling – my eyes darted across the room. I saw so many faces looking on of those I knew and loved, people who had walked with me throughout my journey. The vote went through, but I know I couldn’t have stood there that day and given that speech without the continued love and support of my family at Old Saint Paul’s.

They are my LGBT family – but they’re also more than that. Whether straight or gay, young or old, grumpy or not so grumpy, we see each other at our best and worst, and we’re still there for one another. They’re friends for life, and they’re my family.

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Thanks to ‘Thinking Anglicans’ for this article.

Victoria Stock, a member of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s (SEC’s) General Synod, has shared her experience of being part of an Inclusive Church congregation in Scotland. Her journey to acceptance of her own situation as an intrinsically gay woman was obviously helped by the ready acceptance and shared understanding of a congregation of very differently gifted people in an Edinburgh (Scottish) church – who viewed her ‘difference’ as part of the wide variety of people who inhabit the Body of Christ, the Church Catholic.

The acceptance of a group of fellow Christians in that particular congregation has enabled Victoria to realise that she is not any kind of ‘freak’ or wilful non-conformist, but rather, a same-sex attracted child of God who is now able to recognise other children of God, as beloved of God and worthy of Christian nurture and acceptance in a family – whatever their differences in situation or theological opinion.

With my own Province of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Polynesia, (ACANZP) just about to meet in General Synod in New Plymouth (the hometown of our beloved Archbishop, Phillip Richardson), I am hopeful that someone in that Synod will get up and speak with the experience of a self-confessed gay person, so that the assembly might begin to understand what it could be like for LGBTQ people as members of the Church, who just wish to be accepted for who we are – whatever our differences, to be valued and loved. It would be great if our G.S. members could find the way to accept and bless the faithful monogamous marriage-like relationships that are accepted by our government and people as being intrinsically valuable in our communities and society. 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Women’s Leadership in the R.C. Church

Three women appointed to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

women appointed

Pope Francis has made an historic decision to appoint women to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They are the first female members and the first non-clerics to be appointed to the Congregation.

The three women appointed are:

  • Linda Ghisoni, who is a professor of canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University and an undersecretary in the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. She is also a judge at the First Instance Court of the Vicariate of Rome and is a professor of law at Roma Tre University;
  • Michelina Tenance, professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, is a consecrated woman. Among her various achievements and posts, Francis appointed her to the commission to study the female diaconate in 2016;
  • Laetitia Calmeyn, lecturer of theology at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris. Her ministries include working as a palliative care nurse, a retreat organizer for youth, and a Catholic religion teacher. She has a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome.

Other new appointees are:

  • Father Sergio Paolo Bonanni, professor of theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University;
  • Father Manuel Jesús Arroba Conde, dean of the Institutum Utriusque Iuris at the Pontifical Lateran University.

The Congregation promotes and defends the doctrine of the faith and its traditions in all of the Catholic world.

Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer leads the Congregation.

Source

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In the wake of my previous post on the Anglican Church of Canada’s positive and  wholesome  discrimination towards the radical inclusion of women amongst the leadership of the Church, here we have the story (courtesy of CathNewsNZ) of Pope Francis’ appointment of 3 women theologians to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “They are the first female members and the first non-clerics to be appointed to the Congregation”.

This historic ‘first’ for the Roman Catholic Church is a sure sign of Pope Francis’ eirenic determination to include the gifts of the female of the species into the governance of the Body of Christ, the Church. Despite biblical evidence of Our Lord’s inclusion of women in his encouragement of their ministry (cf his new-era commissioning of Mary Magdalen to announce his Resurrection to the male Apostles) – and reflecting the traditional bias against their teaching role in the Church by Saint Paul – patriarchalism has continued to be the norm for Roman Catholic sacramental ministry and doctrinal determination.

Although Pope Francis has expressed his own doubts about the ordination of women as priest and bishops, this may be a direct intuition that the time is not yet ripe for such a profound movement in the emancipation of women in his own Church. However, he has been photographed welcoming at least one female bishop of the Lutheran Church recently so this may be a sign of his openness to direction by the Holy Spirit on an issue that he sees as important enough to open up the possibility of female input into Church Doctrine – formerly the patriarchalist preserve of men.

The Pope’s openness to such departures from the hallowed tradition of the Vatican has obviously caused a fluttering in the dovecotes of the ardent traditionalists. Not unlike, one might imagine, the effect in the Sanhedrin of the liberating ministry of Jesus towards the downtrodden of his own day – including those women that were part of his own following.

The more I read of Pope Francis, the more I wish it were possible he could become the next Anglican Bishop of Christchurch.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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