Last Saturday, in the Chapel of St Andrew’s College (a Presbyterian Church School in Christchurch, New Zealand), Jay Behan was consecrated and installed as the first bishop of the new denomination calling itself the “Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand”.
The Archbishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) and the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch have publicly expressed their distress at this development.
Regrettably, bishops from the Anglican Communion and bishops from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia took part in the consecration.
At the 2018 meeting of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui of ACANZP, after decades of debate, they resolved that whilst the Church continued to hold to the doctrine of marriage (one man, one woman, for life), under very strict limitations, clergy in our Church who (with their bishop’s permission) blessed a (already) married same-sex couple would be immune from discipline by the Church for administering such a blessing. And similarly, the permitting bishop would be immune from discipline in allowing such a blessing.
Internationally, for those Anglicans trying to include more fully those of the Rainbow Community amongst us, this must be the lowest level of acceptance possible. Understandably, some people have left and many will not join because of this meagre level of inclusion. Others, who think those who bless such couples should be disciplined, left to form what they have called the “Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand”.
The bishops who ordained the first bishop of this new church came from outside of the Anglican Communion and from within the Anglican Communion (breaking episcopal protocols by ordaining in the geographic area under the oversight of another bishop).
Involvement of our bishops
Two of the bishops who consecrated this first bishop of the “Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa New Zealand” are bishops in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Bishop Henry Paltridge took part (laying hands on Jay to consecrate him). Bishop Derek Eaton was one of the three bishops who presented Jay, with those other two signed the legal documentation, and laid hands on him to consecrate him.
The Anglican Communion has conventions, protocols, and common courtesies. Our own Church, ACANZP, has agreed processes in place to discipline bishops who break the agreements vowed and signed up to.
At least one other bishop of ACANZP was present in the congregation and wearing episcopal clericals, the uniform of his office in our Church. I would hope he did not respond positively to the request: “I ask you to declare, do you accept Jay to minister as your bishop?”
Some other notes
With so much made, by the new denomination, of the Ordinal associated with the Book of Common Prayer 1662 (video 1:02:00), there was expectation, by members of the new church, that that would be the rite used. In fact, the consecration was done using a pastiche of rites including variations of that authorised for the denomination that calls itself the “Anglican Church in North America”. One has to presume that the compilation is authorised by the new denomination’s synod. In the service there was a strongest of vows made: “In public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use the forms prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer or a form authorised by the synod and none other.”
A lot of the service was drawn from A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. Having just solemnly vowed that they would use no other form of public prayer except that authorised by the synod of the new denomination (video 1:03:00ff), I have to presume that (surprisingly!) they have authorised our Prayer Book for their denomination! Lucky for them, copyright of those rites is relatively flexible.
[This paragraph has been UPDATED in the light of comments below] Archbishop Foley Beach, primate and archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, led the service. When reciting the translation of the Nicene Creed (a translation, by the way, unique to ACANZP), the primary voice through the microphone does not affirm “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church”, clearly remaining silent whilst the congregation continued the recitation (video 1:00:20ff). This may be a fascinating, overt picking and choosing of what elements of the faith to affirm and which to discard. A commenter, Clifford Swartz (below), contends this is Jay’s voice [or lack of voice for this belief!] rather than Archbishop Foley’s. It has now been confirmed that this is Jay’s voice. Several people have independently noted the omission; readers can now, in the light of the comments below, decide for themselves what the omission entails.
There are people who are discouraged that, whilst originally planned for elsewhere, a month prior to the service it was moved to a Chapel in a school that emphasises being co-educational (note the number of women in the sanctuary at the consecration: 18 males; zero females) and inclusive (note – this wasn’t simply another ecumenical service, this was a service directly reacting against our minimal response to the Rainbow Community).
There are people who are exasperated at the new church’s use of the word “Anglican” and of “Aotearoa” in what it calls itself. There are those who are sullen about positive messages from the Anglican synods in Sydney and Melbourne.
The attitude of the new denomination to people like me, which has led to their schism, is that people like me, who seek full inclusion of takatāpuhi whānau and LGBTQI+ people, do not honour God, love people, Jesus, or the Bible (etc).
Let me conclude with the positive: there are those who have been hurt, and are hurting, often deeply, and yet are trying to stay together in the Church’s family/whānau, accepting difference and living with disagreement – that includes those in the Rainbow Community, those who want the Church to move forward (far) more radically, and those who think that the Church has already gone too far.
Statement by our Archbishops
On Saturday 19 October the Reverend Jay Behan, a former cleric in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP), was ordained bishop for the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand (CCAANZ).
We have previously set out our concerns about this new denomination here.
Here we acknowledge that members of our church are very concerned to see photographs on social media and other news sites which clearly identify that among the consecrating bishops at the ordination were bishops in communion with our church who have crossed boundaries without informing either the Archbishops of this church or the Bishop of Christchurch or the Bishop of Te Waipounamu.
The disrespect for the normal protocols of the Anglican Communion and the lack of courtesy shown to our church by these boundary crossing bishops is disturbing and we will be making an appropriate protest about their actions.
We are especially concerned at the boundary crossing of bishops from the Anglican Church of Australia. We value our trans-Tasman relationship with our neighbouring church and are disappointed to find a lack of respect for the jurisdiction of our church.
As further consequences of the disaffiliations from our church in 2018 are experienced, we wish to place on record our immense thanks for all members of ACANZP who have chosen to remain in this church, including those with similar convictions to those who have disaffiliated and our takatāpuhi whānau (LGBT+ family), in order to faithfully serve God in a church which values diversity, inclusion and respect for a difference of viewpoints within our common understanding of being Anglican.Archbishop Donald Tamihere, Te Pihopa o Aotearoa
Archbishop Philip Richardson, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses
Message from the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch
Alongside this statement I wish to make a some further comments and observations.
With the Archbishops, I thank every member of our Diocese, lay and ordained, who has chosen to remain in our Diocese, committed to serving God faithfully in a church in which we do not always agree with each other and in which we recognise that some issues in life give rise to significance difference between people otherwise deeply united in our love for Jesus Christ. It is a privilege to be your Bishop, to see the breadth of your love and the width of your grace as you accept one another in Christ.
I acknowledge, secondly, that the sheer breadth of our diversity as a Diocese means that a range of responses to Saturday’s ordination exist. Some of us are very sympathetic to the formation of CCAANZ, recognising that beloved brothers and sisters in Christ felt that they had no other option than to disaffiliate from our church, and are delighted that a well-known and familiar leader, Jay Behan, is now their bishop. Some of us are horrified at what has happened, seeing no need for anyone to have left, let alone establish a new church, very concerned at the use of the term “Anglican” in the new church’s name, angry that bishops from within the Anglican Communion crossed boundaries, from their province to ours, to participate in this ordination, and worried that yet more pain has been caused for the Rainbow Community in our Diocese. Others would see themselves as somewhere in between these two bookends of reactions.
Finally, I observe that we are in the midst of some significant shifts in the landscape of global Anglicanism. In the course of the weekend we discovered that not only the Diocese of Sydney, but also the Diocese of Melbourne, through a Synodical resolution, voted to send greetings to Jay and to the new church. That is, two of the largest dioceses in our nearest Anglican neighbouring church recognised as authentically Anglican a second Anglican church in these islands of ours. Greetings also came from other Anglican provinces further away. In the same Sydney Synod last week, that Diocese declared itself to be in impaired Communion with our Diocese (because we are open to priests being permitted to conduct a blessing of a same sex marriage). That is, the Anglican Communion at the weekend showed ever more clearly that it is becoming a different kind of Communion. Whether it will be divided into two Communions, or simply become a Communion of utter confusion (as to which Anglican churches are recognising which other Anglican churches as authentically Anglican), it is too early to tell.
For a set of news items and reflections on the events, statements and actions of the past week, I commend this post on Thinking Anglicans.
These are challenging times but I believe in a God who brings good out of difficulty. I hope you do too.
With much love—arohanui,+Peter