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Author Archives: Bosco Peters

Baptist Loophole for Same-Sex Couples

blessing same sex couples

Update: Bishop Kelvin Wright, Bishop of Dunedin (NZ), has responded to this post on his excellent website. After reading my post, do go and read his here.

Motion 30 in NZ Anglicanism, that we can currently liturgically recognise committed same-gender couples, and that set up a working group towards formally blessing such couples, four months ago had questions formally posed to the Judicial Committee whether there are unconstitutional issues involved. We were told,

Under the canons, the Judicial Committee must give notice of the application to any ‘interested parties’ and invite any written statement on the questions submitted.
This will occur over the next few weeks.

We seem to have heard no more either about the meetings of the working group, nor about the formal questioning, nor have I seen the invitations mentioned. Transparency, of course, people are pointing out, was part of the issue how we got to where we are.

I am not in any way preempting the Judicial Committee’s determination, but I can see that there may be conflicts with elements embodied within the constitution.

But there are precedents that may present a workaround.

A Baptist minister was also an Anglican priest in good standing. His name is unimportant, as I will point out below that he is far from being an exception.

Obviously, in his role as Baptist minister, while vowing and signing his allegiance to Anglican doctrine and discipline, he followed Baptist practice of rebaptising, and presiding at the Lord’s Supper using forms unacceptable to Anglicans.

This was all totally public and known to the bishop(s).

This loophole models a way to sign and vow to Anglican doctrine and discipline on marriage whilst, in practice, blessing and marrying committed same-gender couples.

The loophole is not an exception; it is relatively common. In cooperating parishes (churches that are run by two denominations with the minister appointed now from one, then from the other denomination), Anglican priests regularly lead Holy Communion using what is acceptable, for example, to Presbyterians, but forbidden to Anglicans. They do so, not as Presbyterian clergy but as Anglican priests, often in Anglican-owned buildings, wearing Anglican vesture.

But wait – there’s more!

Anglican clergy vow and sign that they solemnly make the declaration affirming “allegiance to the doctrine to which clause 1 of the Fundamental Provisions and clauses 1 and 2 of Part B of that Constitution bear witness”. This is the foundation of the questioning whether motion 30 is unconstitutional.

The Book of Common Prayer 1662 is part of those clauses. It includes a service called “A Commination“. But our canons and statutes explicitly forbid the use of that service, A Commination. How can NZ Anglican clergy solemnly make the declaration affirming allegiance to the doctrine that a service, which is forbidden to be used, bears witness to?!

All this, along with ordaining women, allowing divorce and remarriage, and administering communion to the unconfirmed, provides several examples and models how the church and its clergy have been able to separate what is enshrined in our constitution from the practice allowed in our church.

In short, if the Judicial Commission determines that motion 30 is unconstitutional, there may be a workaround with strong precedence.


Related news is that

the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) has [unanimously] urged the Anglican Church of Canada not to amend its marriage canon (church law) to allow the marriage of same-sex couples, saying such a move would “cause great distress for the Communion as a whole, and for its ecumenical relationships.”

Rev. Tobias Haller blogs a response here.

The Anglican Church of Canada, of course, was one of the first to ordain women – including to the episcopate. One wonders if at that time IASCUFO might have urged the Anglican Church of Canada not to to allow the ordination of women, saying such a move would “cause great distress for the Communion as a whole, and for its ecumenical relationships.” One wonders how IASCUFO might respond if the CofE consulted it about its recent innovative decision to ordain women to the episcopate? One wonders if Henry VIII had listened to IASCUFO’s approach whether there would be an Anglican Communion with an IASCUFO at all.


Please do not take my reporting various examples of people working around our formularies, canons, and statutes as my agreement with or endorsement of those workarounds. This post is taking at face value General Synod Te Hinota Whanui’s unanimous claim that “those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is contrary to scripture and doctrine” and “those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is consonant with scripture and doctrine” both have a place in our church. This post is not about debating that, it is part of enabling that to be realised. If you want to discuss that claim, this is not the post to do that. There are plenty of other sites that vigorously discuss that.


Your Kingdom Come

Your Kingdom Come

Your kingdom come.

John the Baptist can be a bit of an embarrassment for Christians because if we look honestly at the documents it’s pretty clear that initially Jesus was a follower of John the Baptist.

In Matthew Chapter 3 it says:

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

Jesus joins this group; Jesus is captivated by the message of John the Baptist. Then John the Baptist is imprisoned. Jesus picks up some of the basic ideas of his teacher, his mentor, John – but he also changes some things. You don’t any longer, you notice, need to go to the Jordan – if you are sick, disabled, too poor or too old – Jesus will bring the message of the kingdom to you. Jesus is obviously more inclusive. And Jesus stresses that this is good news. Good news.

The idea and the ideals of God’s kingdom can be so easily misunderstood. Jesus tells story after story after story to get his idea, his ideal across: the kingdom of heaven is like this; the kingdom of God is like that; what can I compare the kingdom to?

I don’t think it is the actual words that are important. In the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with the words ‘Kingdom of God’, or ‘Kingdom of heaven’, kingdom was the focus of Jesus’ teaching. By the time, a few decades later, in a different context, in John’s gospel, he barely ever has Jesus talk about the kingdom. In John’s gospel the same idea is expressed in the words, ‘eternal life’. So the concept of ‘kingdom’ didn’t present the news of Jesus so well in the context of the Gospel of John’s community. ‘Eternal life’ did it better for them.

I’m not sure: does ‘eternal life’ do it for you? I’m not sure what your image of Jesus talking about eternal life means to you – but the image that springs to my mind is of a church service that goes on and on and on and on – for ever. Well, some of you may be surprised, but if that’s what Jesus is offering, if that’s what Jesus is excited about, if that’s what we are praying when we say ‘your kingdom come’ – then… ummm… atheism might look more attractive.

And that, I think, is a key – maybe the key. The key is not ‘kingdom’ or ‘eternal’. The key is Jesus saying this is good news. What would be good news for you? What would you think was the best news you could think of?

Take time, when you can, and think about: what would you like the world to be like? What would you like life to be like?

Maybe it was a time when you were with a group of friends just having an awesome time, everybody enjoying themselves, able to be themselves, accepted by others – no power plays; no dishonesty…

I think for a lot of us it is those moments when we don’t notice time. Or something else might come to your mind as your answer to, “What would you like the world to be like? What would you like life to be like?”

That, says Jesus, that is what you are asking for when you pray: your kingdom come. For your life, for the world to be like that. And the next key Jesus gives is – once you realise what you would like the world, life to be like – start living like that. Start living in the way you would like the world to be.

Your kingdom come.

This is the sixth post on the Lord’s Prayer;
the first is Lord, Teach Us to Pray
the second is Our Father
the third is Our Father (part 2)
the fourth is Our Father (part 3)
the fifth is Hallowed be your Name

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4 Dimensions of Priestly Formation

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Less is More

Less is More

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Don’t Mention Religion!

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Lectionary Defies General Synod Wish

Advent 3 2015

This is one of those blogposts (it’s go-slow, summer-holiday time here down under) that is written specially for those who think that the primary focus of those interested in liturgy is when to use “of”, or “in”, or “after”; how to hold your fingers and hands at particular points; and whether to light Advent wreath…Continue Reading