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Trinity & other synod news

This Blog post was updated 20 September

This last weekend the synod of the Diocese of Dunedin met and passed the following motion unanimously:

That this Synod:

Noting the lack of traditional Trinitarian collects in the Lectionary, strongly urges the Common Life Liturgical Commission and the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui to ensure

(a).   the retention in the Formularies of at least one traditional Trinitarian collect for each Sunday of the Church’s year,

(b).   the provision for such a collect for each Sunday of the Church’s year in the Lectionary.

This is another step forward against the illegal planned Prayer Book printing and away from the NZ Anglican tendency to spin a bottle and address whichever member of the Trinity it stops at.

The Dunedin diocesan synod also strongly strongly rejected the proposed Covenant as it stands, and passed a motion identical to the Auckland one:  that is, that Sections 1-3, are useful statements and commitments and a process for dealing with disagreement; Clause 4.2 is unacceptable; the rest of 4 is acceptable.

Wellington diocesan synod accepted clauses 1-3 of the Covenant but went for a division (a vote in houses bishop/clergy/laity) for clause 4. The voting on that section was: Clergy: 63 for; 41 against. Laity: 52 for; 44 against. One synod member said he counted up to 25 abstentions.

Important to remember is that these diocesan synod votes (so far 5 episcopal units have rejected the Covenant and only Wellington is in favour) are a straw vote, a trying to discern the attitudes around the province. The real vote happens at General Synod / te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) next year. In the unlikely event that the “Covenant” passes there IMO it would require alterations to our Constitution/canons which (if the church remembers how to do this) requires the arduous process of twice to GSTHW and going around every diocesan synod and hui amorangi between those GSTHW votes and then another year after its confirmation at GSTHW.

In any case this so-called “Anglican Covenant” which the advocates present as a unifying “fifth instrument of unity” will IMO not only not solve the issues it was created to solve, but is in fact causing further division! Wellington has come out in favour of the Covenant but only with a 57.5% majority – after the bishop’s advocating in its favour. And with abstentions nearly equivalent to the difference between positions. Even if other episcopal units join Wellington’s favouring of the Covenant what is being given to us is a new source of division.

The “Covenant” being a new source of division is highlighted when it is publicly declared that in a diocese with synod reps divided 58/42 in favour of the “Covenant” the next bishop effectively cannot be other than one supportive of the “Covenant”!

Energy is being dissipated to this debate rather than to the actual issues. Christchurch diocese is calling a special synod meeting, essentially as long as our normal meeting, not to discuss our response to the earthquake or to discuss the issues that caused the creation of the “Covenant” but to be part of the provincial straw vote on the “Covenant”.

Like Auckland and Waiapu, the Dunedin diocesan synod also passed a motion on LGBTs in ordinatio.

Update 20 September – I now have the wording of the motion passed:

MOTION NO: 5  Motion re Ordination and Licensing of those in same-sex relationships

That this Synod:

Whereas a Tikanga Pakeha Commission on Human Sexuality, in 1998, affirmed “the wisdom and historic precedent for leaving the decisions about acceptance for ordination with the bishop of each Episcopal unit and her or his advisors” and expressed the view that “each application for ordination should be dealt with on an individual basis regardless of the candidate’s marital status, gender, sexual orientation or sexual preference”, and that “There is no need for our Church to impose or declare barriers or prohibitions with respect to the ordination of gay or lesbian people beyond the usual criteria which are applied in local Episcopal units for the assessment and selection of ordination candidates” and

Whereas this Synod in 2007 resolved that the call to and suitability for ministry and leadership are not determined by a candidate’s sexual orientation, and

Whereas this Synod in 2010, understanding that, since 2006, bishops of this church had instituted an informal moratorium on accepting those in same sex relationships into the process leading to possible ordination, and, noting that many clergy and lay people who are homosexual and some of whom are in long term committed, faithful, monogamous relationships, exercise valuable ministries in this Diocese and in other Dioceses and Hui Amorangi of this Church, asked the bishops whether such a moratorium was still in place, and, if so, to set a date for the moratorium to be lifted, and

Whereas the Standing Committee of General Synod has agreed that at its meeting in November 2011 it will appoint a Three-Tikanga Commission to report to the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui on

(i) 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

(ii) The principles of Anglican ecclesiology and, in the light of our diversity, the ecclesial possibilities for ways forward for our Three Tikanga Church; and

(iii) The implications of (i) and (ii) on the place of our Three Tikanga Church  as a whole within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Now therefore this Synod:

1. Accepts that a variety of opinions regarding the blessing, ordination and licensing of those in same sex relationships are sincerely held by members of this Diocese, this Church, and the Churches of the Anglican Communion.

2. Considers that any person applying for ordination or licensing for ministry should not be excluded on the basis of the candidate’s marital status, gender, or sexual orientation.

3. Asks the Diocesan Manager to forward this Resolution to the General Secretary of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, with a request that it be made available to the proposed Commission on the blessing and ordination of those in same sex relationships.

Clergy    For    34                                Against     7 
Laity     For    39                                Against    13
Bishops   For     1   

Although we were to have heard before the Christchurch diocesan synod meeting two weeks ago if the planned illegal Prayer Book printing had been halted, I still cannot report any more on that.

Updating the Ashes to Fire confusion, the General Secretary of the province interprets that all Ashes to Fire material was able to be used prior to “authorisation” (agreeing with me on this); that through this current GSTHW process it is designated as “authorised”, a designation that it didn’t have previously (my comment: so what – it was previously allowed); and that “in one sense” after “authorisation” it is “privileged over other Lent, Holy Week and Easter resources, as it is authorised and the others are not, but does not prevent other resources being used.” Concretely, I cannot see anything having altered – it sounds like a confused, confusing, costly advertising campaign for a product that may or may not be as good as other products, but through its advertising can give the (false?) impression to some (many? all?) that no other products are actually legal! Fair Trading Act anybody?

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19 Responses to Trinity & other synod news

  1. Hi Bosco,

    I’m not going near the collects or Ashes to Fire:) On the Covenant, I think you’ll find Auckland went a step further and included a call for General Synod to commit to following the process as laid out in section 3. Only Waiapu and the two Hui Amorangi have rejected the Covenant outright (and fir good reasons IMO)

  2. Yes, my point however is that this is not identical to the Dunedin motion. It is, in fact, very different in as much as it might potentially bind us to a process (or series of processes) that could effectively prevent any forward motion on some issues, or at least delay such motion for a very long time. I remain of the opinion that the Covenant is ‘un-Anglican’ at its very core and should therefore be rejected in its entirety (including sections 1 to 3). Of course I realise that my position is itself not-so-Anglican in as much as it is not at all aiming for the middle of the road:)

    • Are you saying, Brian, that the Auckland motion is different to the Dunedin one? As soon as I get the Dunedin words, if they are different to the Auckland one, I will update the post. I have repeatedly asked pro-covenantors for an example of another Communion held together by a “Covenant” – I’m still waiting for someone to answer me… I think you are saying something similar. I am increasingly concerned by the amount of time and energy and money that this is costing… I kept this blog pretty covenant-discussions-free for quite a while. But I now too belie my bemoaning the energy expended by expending energy on it… Blessings.

  3. Hi Bosco,
    I do not know of another set of churches quite like the Anglican Communion, so I am not sure how it would help our Anglican consideration of the proposed Anglican Covenant to find (or not find) an example of “another Communion held together by a “Covenant””. The counter question to those opposed to the Covenant could be one I have tried to prise open: if we are happy with a constitution and canons governing member churches of the Communion, what is the problem with the Covenant governing the Communion?

    I think you are being unfair to the pattern developing in our Diocese of two sessions of Synod each year. A session in March next year will not be “special”: it will be held unless a natural disaster prevents it, and the designated main topic of discussion is the Covenant, but other things needing to be discussed will be discussed (we foreshadowed one such matter, the withdrawn Appointments bill, at our recent session. The Covenant will be discussed because GS has asked us to: are we to be denied this opportunity which others have taken up?

    • Peter, I’m not sure how “like” the Anglican Communion you need to have “another set of churches” to be for it to help the discussion. I am still waiting to be presented with anything similar whatsoever.

      Seeking patterns: when I responded to your last “counter question” (what is the alternative?) with actual steps that one could begin to take in response to concrete presenting issues – that gets little response. So now it is replaced with another “counter question”. My quick response is that one cannot keep enlarging architecture indefinitely.

      The structure of an insect works perfectly for that size – it cannot be enlarged to the size of a horse. The structure of an elephant works fine – it cannot keep being enlarged indefinitely. A gothic cathedral may work great to a certain height, but the same plan cannot simply be enlarged indefinitely to several kilometres high.

      Democracy works pretty well at a national level. But there isn’t a huge clamouring for NZ to be an extra state of Australia. Or Australia, NZ, and USA to join together and become a bigger democratic entity with the argument that what works in the smaller nation should work in the larger union.

      Just because a constitution and canons govern member churches of the Communion, this does not immediately mean that we should have anything similar governing a communion of such entities.

      As to your suggestion that our diocese meet twice a year in short one-day synod meetings – I am not convinced that this is the most effective use of time, money, and energy. If this new pattern has been debated and agreed upon – I missed it. The March day synod meeting to debate the “Covenant” was announced prior to the withdrawal for the second time in two years of the Appointments Bill. I think your justifying the March meeting by including the Appointments Bill muddies the water of your point – that a Bill is withdrawn two years in a row is quite another issue to this thread. General Synod Te Hinota Whanui did refer “the proposed Covenant to the Episcopal units of this Church for consideration and reporting back to the 2012 Session of GSTHW”. Unlike you, I am not convinced that under Christchurch’s particular circumstances, having our Standing Committee, for example, deal with this would be out of the question. Particularly as a couple of years ago our diocese already passed a motion in favour. What do you see has changed so significantly that it is imperative that we need to debate it synodically again? We have in other things not done as other dioceses have done. Other diocesan synods have debated GSTHW 2010 motion 5 – our diocese was “denied that opportunity”.

      Blessings

      Bosco

    • Not quite sure what point you are trying to make here, Sande, or whether you are, in this manner, trying to reinforce my point that we are giving too much energy to the “Covenant”. Can’t quite work out what you mean “I want to mind but find I can’t” when you yourself write about the “Covenant” passionately on your own blog. Blessings.

  4. Hi Bosco,
    Australians do not pretend to be Kiwis (unless stealing credit for inventing pavlovas) and vice versa, so I do not see the analogy with people claiming to be Anglicans the world over while refusing to find a common understanding of being Anglican.

    I won’t push the point further about a March synod; I get your point that SC could make a response re the Covenant, but wonder if the whole of Synod would agree to that.

    But your important point is about ‘energy’ for the Covenant. Yes, it is possible that amidst all our Diocese is facing an appropriate response would be to say that we have no synodical view on the Covenant because we need to focus our energy on other priorities.

    Incidentally I have just returned from the first consultation re design guidelines for the Diocese: some good energy levels there!

    • I’m sorry, Peter, that I fail in expressing my point well that structures of governance including a constitution and canons that may work well enough at a smaller level do not therefore translate directly to working for a significantly larger body. If we are going to talk past each other by finding only differences between us and Australians (rather than both being democracies) and only similarities between us and other provinces, clearly I can once again find no better way forward to your questions which I seek to dialogue about as clearly as I can. That governance, constitution, and canons is now shifted to your assertion that there is a refusal “to find a common understanding of being Anglican” further frustrates the conversation.

      I do not think that we need “the whole of Synod to agree to” allowing Standing Committee to respond – to have had a brief synodical discussion is not a bad suggestion. The diocesan responses are not insignificant, but the real decision is being made at GS 2012. And, I repeat, our diocese has already made our position plain. Our provincial news site indicates “Nelson expressed its approval of the Covenant several years ago and may not offer another recommendation” – Christchurch diocese at a similar time passed a motion with exactly the same wording as Nelson’s. Furthermore, GSTHW did not ask for a “synodical view on the Covenant”.

      I am pleased that the consultation went so well – to comment further here would send this thread off on a too-unrelated topic, but possibly you might blog on the evening, possibly indicating numbers involved, process, etc.

      Blessings

  5. I did not intend to speak past you, Bosco! If we focus on the sharing of democracy further up the line, we could reflect on how the United Nations works, including its charter, and its production over the years of statements/principles re rights which member nations are asked to sign up to. Either way, I respect the fact that you and I differ as to both the necessity and usefulness of the Covenant for the future operations of the Communion!

    I have no idea whether a canvassing of the members of our Synod would lead to an agreement that the past statement of our synod remains accurate; nor whether our reps to GS next year would feel any need for further synodical discussion to guide them as they prepare for GS.

    • Peter, the Anglican Communion already has a number of United-Nations-like organisations (from Lambeth Conferences to International Anglican Liturgical Consultations). Not to get distracted by Ausy-Kiwi differences, or the effectiveness or otherwise of the United Nations, my response to your question, if something works at the smaller level why not have it similarly working at the larger level, was to suggest that the latter does not of necessity follow the former.

      The specifics about whether our now-elected GSTHW representatives (who are not delegates) will be guided differently after a special meeting of our synod after we have already had a vote on the “Covenant” (add up cost, time, & energy here) again can distract from my primary point that I have yet to be convinced that the Communion’s and our church’s cost, time, and energy devoted to debating the “Covenant” is leading to anything productive. I do not see it solving any of the issues confronting the Communion. I merely see it creating new ones.

      Over a thousand people have read this post. No one has commented on the place of the Trinity in our prayer that Dunedin is advocating for, that I headlined, and placed first in the thread. Where is the report about that in our provincial media? Is the energy of our church really being put in the right places?

      Blessings

      Bosco

      • Hi Bosco
        I think it is characteristic of blogging/commenting to take up matters on which there is disagreement rather than agreement. No comments on the beginning of your post could mean readers are happy and agreeable to the motion reported there.

        Energy expended on the Covenant is precisely required because of people such as yourself making claims about the Covenant which are worth testing before accepting as true. For instance you claim the Covenant will both fail to resolve current issues and will create new ones. Why should we accept that without investigating such a significant claim? Why shouldn’t such a claim being made today not be discussed in a synodical arena tomorrow?

        • I’m not sure, Peter, who your “we” refers to. Certainly, I have no thought that anyone “should” be accepting my comments without thinking about them. I get annoyed with myself for the energy I am expending on this. You will have your chance to place your claims before our diocesan synod meeting in March. Whether or not this leads to that synod meeting changing the previous position will then be seen. Whether or not that affects the position of our diocesan representatives on GSTHW where the actual vote takes place would require you to survey them before and after. Blessings.

  6. Hi Peter,

    I am having some problems accepting your question; “if we are happy with a constitution and canons governing member churches of the Communion, what is the problem with the Covenant governing the Communion?” Like the highly dubious assertion that the Covenant is akin to a marriage license, I think your description fals to recognise some fundamental differences.
    We are not, of course, dealing with “constitution” or “canons”. Instead we have a document draped in the vaguely religious sounding title of “Covenant” which may or may not be meant to disguise the fact that it lacks most of the elements necessary in a proper (and in this country, legal) constitution.
    Which diocese or province would accept a set of canons that contained: conflicting and undefined terms and descriptions, little in the way of processes by which progress can be made, no rights of review or points of appeal, no review date(s), nothing in the way of definition or description in terms of actions resulting in consequences – the list could go on!
    When some (most notably the Anglican Church of Canada) have questioned these issues with the Covenant their questions have either been ignored or the response is “sign up and find out”. Again, which synod would agree to “suck it and see” when it came to their canons? We just sent back a bill to alter just one of our canons because it contained a couple of inconsistencies – our bush lawyers would fall over themselves laughing if we tried to put through something as poorly crafted (from a rules and regulations standpoint) as the Covenant!
    My other problem is the the Covenant has already failed in its original purpose. We all know that a number of what might be called very conservative provinces have already made it clear they will not sign as the provisions are not strong enough for them. No fewer than four provinces have already formally disassociated themselves with arguably our most significant Instrument of Union, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The “we have to hold it together” ship has already sailed, and there are plenty of passengers missing. Why would we continue with a document designed to address a question that has already been answered?
    Like other debates in our Church, I suspect those with any interest in the subject have already made up their minds. Lets just get on with it!

  7. Hi Brian,
    You and I are making a number of claims about the Covenant which we are each controverting. There is much to discuss and too much at stake to assume that people have already made their minds up about it before embarking on formal debate. That is, we ought to have formal debates about the Covenant and we are having them. That is a good thing. I would like to see the Christchurch synod have its day of discussion of the present version of the Covenant, and do so in the light of what GS resolved in 2010 and, now, in the light of varying synodical responses in our church. Why should Chch miss out on what Waiapu has enjoyed!?

    Some member churches are falling off the Communion ship? There are still plenty on board that ship and it is worth considering what will guide the way the ship’s crew and passengers conduct their lives on board it.

    I am completely mystified by what we would be getting on with if we were to rally to your call to “Lets just get on with it!”

    🙂

  8. Hi Peter and Bosco – key to Waiapu’s decision-making on the proposed Covenant was a series of regional discussions on what it means to be Anglican and how the ACC may or may not enhance our worldwide Communion.

    Then at our annual regional conferences (a Waiapu idiosyncracy – we did away with archdeacons / archdeaconaries 20+ years ago and have a flatter more participatory structure) two variations of the proposed synod motion were debated (accept / reject – all three regions adopted the reject version). So we went to synod well informed of the issues, and voted accordingly on a what is so far the simplest resolutions passed in any episcopal unit in ACANZP.

    Whether such a process took place prior to other synods, or is feasible in Christchurch under present circumstances I don’t know, but certainly worked well in the case of this far-flung diocese.

    Bosco, I’m a bit like Sande on this one 🙂 in that I “want to mind but find I can’t” – being part of the worldwide Anglican Communion is important but there is a whole other world out there too, the mission field of the communities in which we are placed who don’t give a toss about church polity or most of the issues which have consumed our time over the past 20 years…

    Every blessing Stephen

    • Thanks, Stephen. You may have noticed that for quite a while this site stayed out of the discussion, and my mentioning that I think too much energy is expended on this (now also by me!). Sande blogs on this (as I have). The early drafts of the Covenant did not even mention liturgy (central in my understanding of Anglicanism)! So they came at being church from quite a different direction to how I approach (worship is still not seen as part of our mission as Anglicans!) Most in our context would struggle to distinguish one denomination from another (most Anglicans, including many clergy, including bishops struggle to name our own church!) so a lot of this discussion is similar to the placing of the epiclesis in fourth century Alexandria stuff. Hence, I’m not sure if I commend the fulsome process your diocese went through or not 🙂 Blessings.

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