web analytics

Obsession With Rules 2

RulesAs promised, this post continues the reflection on keeping faith with our agreements (and, if you haven’t read that post, it may benefit you to do so to get the frame for this one).

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) is a community held together by voluntary compact. We do not have to belong – we voluntarily join ourselves to together, to this community and the rules and agreements that are part of this community. This is recognised in the law of the land, particularly in the 1928 Church of England Empowering Act: property is not held by an individual, it is owned by the community that holds to these rules and agreements by voluntary compact; income, remuneration, and stipends are tied to promising and signing affirmations and agreements. If there is energy to alter any of these affirmations and agreements, then there is a rigorous process to do so [Agreement at General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW); agreement by the majority of diocesan synods and hui amorangi; agreement again at GSTHW; waiting a year for anyone to protest – this three-year decision-making process is nicknamed the “twice-round” process].

Many in NZ have looked down their noses at secular courts being involved in arguments over property upon changes to agreements and rules in The Episcopal Church (USA), repeating that such clashes would never happen here (Yeah, right!)

The agreements of teaching and practice in ACANZP are called formularies. Many formularies are services authorised by the “twice-round” process (all services contained in A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa are examples). This site has regularly highlighted the liturgical chaos in this province, and this year GSTHW has ruled that many services have had “(1) inconsistency with the 1928 Act and (2) lack of fundamental authorisation in the first place.”

GSTHW has set in motion a process to broaden the meaning of “authorised services” beyond formularies to make possible services which are not formularies. It will be fascinating to follow the discussions around this Bill No 4, being a change to our Constitution, as it does the rounds of diocesan synods and hui amorangi. And, in the wake of this, it will be interesting to see what is done about the innumerable ordinations that were done “inconsistent with the 1928 Act and lacking fundamental authorisation.” My suspicion is that, in a church that has grown accustomed to liturgical muddle, few will have the agility to see the import of what is being debated.

Those who have followed and been affected by the quakes in Christchurch and Canterbury may now wish that there had been a bit more “obsession with rules” in our church previously. Certainly those who are opposed to blessing (or marrying) committed same-sex couples are often quickly becoming adept at our agreements (often having been, and still possibly being, in the more liturgically-contumacious part of the church’s spectrum). I am saddened that it is this focus that precipitated “obsession with rules”; I underscore the need for integrity and consistency across all agreements, but I have no ostrich tendencies that thinks that obsession with certain rules is on the decline.

To be continued…

Similar Posts:

2 thoughts on “Obsession With Rules 2”

  1. Peter Carrell

    It may be a bit hard, Bosco, to take seriously requirements to “keep faith with agreements” we have made if it turns out that our church at the highest level is not sure what “agreements” it actually requires us to keep faith with!

    I am comfortable with services authorised for use which are not formularies in the sense (at least) that I am comfortable with clergy blessing animals and naval chaplains blessing warships via services authorised for use which do not require me to believe that animals and warships can or even should be blessed.

    1. Thanks, Peter.

      I think, finally, that it is now clear that our constitution, canons, and formularies are our agreements. We have never, ever previously seen anything like Bill 4, and there ought to be careful discussion whether, having finally begun clarifying our agreements, we should immediately turn around and head back in the direction of the chaos we came from.

      Might it be better to, instead, examine whether the current formularies in fact are insufficient in providing common prayer?

      As to blessing animals and warships – I think they currently fit within the formulary A Form for Ordering A Service of the Word.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.