Framed by moving, excellent, regular worship, and with a healthy, positive, central focus on our response to the earthquake, the Christchurch Anglican diocesan synod debated some important liturgical issues.
I spoke against our diocese giving assent to “authorise” (scare quotes essential) Ashes to Fire, a confused and confusing statute coming to us from General Synod /te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW). The status of the Ashes to Fire resource, every part of which we can currently use, is very unclear if it should pass a second time through GSTHW. I will have a blog post on the complexities soon. I was very pleased that our synod did not assent to the statute.
I had been promised and hoped to receive confirmation of the halting of the printing of the illegal Prayer Book by the meeting of our synod. As that did not occur, I was encouraged to put a motion about it. The synod asked me to add my concerns from my speech against the Ashes to Fire statute onto this motion to make one liturgical motion.
I had been feeling lonely when I was pretty much single-handedly working on the illegal Prayer Book issue. Others have been swinging in to support as they realise the gravity of what was happening. I was deeply moved when our synod passed the motion unanimously with applause. One priest, in whom I had confided, said, as I walked back to my seat, “you are not alone any more.” The motion passed is:
That this Synod
a) notes the recent plan to print a revised New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, in which approximately two hundred pages would be altered from our authorised Prayer Book, without going through the processes required by Act of Parliament, and our church’s Constitution and canons;
b) formally reminds the church that any revision of A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa needs to follow the agreed procedures of our church [a bill passing a statute at General Synod / te Hinota Whanui, consideration at every diocesan synod and Hui Amorangi, a further bill to a newly elected General Synod / te Hinota Whanui, and a year to allow for any challenges];
c) advocates as strongly as possible that in any revision the Western taonga/treasure of Trinitarian collects inherited from the early Church via Cranmer and so shared with the rest of the Anglican Communion and other great Western denominations, be the primary option provided in every service;
d) asks our Diocesan Manager to communicate this to our church’s General Secretary and to every Diocesan Standing Committee and Hui Amorangi, the liturgical bodies of our church (including TPLWG and CLLC), and respectfully asks our Diocesan General Synod representatives to take up b) and c) at the next meeting of General Synod / te Hinota Whanui;
e) asks the Standing Committee of the General Synod/ te Hinota Whanui to urgently set in place a review of the labyrinthine liturgical rules of our province and produce a straightforward report which makes clear
1) what is required,
2) what is allowed, and
3) what is forbidden,
and that this review become the foundation for a renewal of the way we categorise our liturgical resources to a transparent, simple system;
f) encourages our diocesan representatives on General Synod/ te Hinota Whanui to work towards halting the authorising of any further forms of service (including Ashes to Fire) until such clarity is present in our liturgical rules.
The Dunedin Synod, meeting in a fortnight, also has a motion to have “at least one traditional, Trinitarian collect for each Sunday of the Church’s year”.
Auckland & ordaining LGBT
Auckland has also been holding its diocesan synod. After many, many years of attempts to hold such a debate, Auckland Synod, under the leadership of my friend Bishop Ross Bay, had an all-day, full, open, and largely positive discussion about sexual orientation, committed same-sex relationships, and discernment, ordination, and licensing. In his charge Bishop Ross indicated he was not opposed to ordinations of people in a committed same-sex relationship, “I will therefore be clear that should the appropriate basis for change be found within the church, I would be willing to proceed with such ordinations within this diocese.” The motion passed at this synod was,
That this synod:
(1) holds that sexual orientation should not be an impediment to the discernment, ordination and licensing of gay and lesbian members to any lay and ordained offices of the church; and further
(2) holds that persons in committed same-sex relationships likewise should not be excluded from being considered for discernment, ordination and licensing to any lay and ordained offices of the church.
(3) commits to an intentional process of listening to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, organised by the Archdeacons in consultation with the gay and lesbian community;
(4) commits to an ongoing process of discussion within the ministry units, asks the Archdeacons to facilitate this, and invites responses to those discussions to be submitted to Diocesan Council by 31 March 2012; and
(5) commits to support the process and work of the Commission to be appointed by General Synod Standing Committee as resolved at its meeting in July 2011.
This motion was put in parts, and members voted via a paper ballot. The most contentious clause, (2), passed by nearly a two-thirds majority.
This is an update of the original post: Waiapu diocese also debated sexuality issues, with all sides of the debate well represented and put forward. The Synod chose to deal with each clause separately and voted in houses. In the end both clauses were comfortably passed by a more than 90% majority:
Given that Waiapu has followed a policy of sexual orientation not being a barrier to ordination; and given that there is not and has not been an agreed “moratorium” on ordinations of those in same sex relationships;
a) this Synod affirms that sexual orientation is not a barrier to ordination, and
b) this Synod asks General Synod to move forward with the provision of an authorised liturgy for the blessing of same sex relationships to be adopted by dioceses who wish to do so.
Waiapu diocese also “rejected the Covenant yesterday by a huge (99.5%) majority” with the motion,
The Diocese of Waiapu affirms its desire to remain a member of the Anglican Communion, valuing highly our common faith, mission, tradition and liturgy. We do not believe that the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant will enhance the life of the Communion and request that the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui declines to sign the Covenant.