The suggestion that the orders of ordained gays may be invalid, motions from at least two dioceses with new bishops asking about the rumour of a moratorium on ordaining gays, and pressure from St Matthew in the City, Auckland, are amongst reasons why General Synod Standing Committee meeting in Fiji last week passed the following motion:
General Synod Standing Committee, meeting in Nadi in July 2011,
Being mindful of ACC-15 meeting in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2012 as an instrument of Communion, and of the ongoing debates in the world wide Anglican Communion,
And also being aware of at least three potential motions coming to GSTHW in 2012 around issues of same sex relationships, blessing, and ordination, thought it appropriate to prepare GSTHW for discussion and consideration of these issues, and accordingly,
1. That General Synod Standing Committee at its meeting in November 2011 appoint a Commission made up of a small Three Tikanga group of eminent people with ability, credibility, and a commitment to work in prayerful collegiality, to report to General Synod/te Hinota Whanui on:
(a) A summary of the biblical and theological work done by our Church on the issues surrounding Christian ethics, human sexuality and the blessing and ordination of people in same sex relationships, including missiological, doctrinal, canonical, cultural and pastoral issues; and
(b) The principles of Anglican ecclesiology and, in light of our diversity, the ecclesial possibilities for ways forward for our Three Tikanga Church; and
(c) The implications of (a) and (b) on the place of our Three Tikanga Church as a whole within the worldwide Anglican Communion.
2. That General Synod Standing Committee immediately establish a small working group to propose, by 31 August 2011, the membership of the Commission.
3. The Commission will be asked to report progress to the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui in 2012 but in any event to complete its work and report to General Synod/te Hinota Whanui by 2014.
4. The General Synod Standing Committee ask each Episcopal unit to comment on the terms of reference and the membership of the Commission prior to the November meeting of the General Synod Standing Committee.
5. That various bodies of this Church, through the terms of reference, be available to offer the Commission advice on specific matters or questions, including the Doctrinal Commission, the Judicial Committee, the Liturgical Commission, as well as the bench of Bishops. The Commission will be free to take such advice and any other advice that it deems appropriate and to receive submissions.
- By “our Church” does 1a refer to The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia or something else?
- It is hard to understand why it has taken until now to begin this sort of discussion. And it is hard to know what significant new information such a Commission will present that the sort of well-informed person who is a member of General Synod/te Hinota Whanui wouldn’t already know. In other words – why can this not be debated without further delay? And why hasn’t this been done much, much earlier?
- The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia was the first in the Anglican Communion to allow the blessing of same-sex couples.
- I advocated rescinding the Worship Template and discussing the gay blessing rite on its own merit here.
- The motions passed by diocesan synods and the response of a chancellor is here.
- The response of the Bishop of Auckland to a letter from St Matthew in the City is here (note, as I mentioned, even the bishop gets the name of our church wrong )
Outspoken: Coming Out in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand This is a new book which presents the narratives of 11 people who have come out in the Anglican Church in New Zealand, including two ordained church members. I do not have the book yet.
Meanwhile, all this is happening in parallel to discussion about the “Anglican Covenant” which may or may not have any bearing on this discussion… But Mad Priest’s image may express it best: