In the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, there are statutes doing the rounds of Te Runanganui, the Diocese of Polynesia, and the diocesan synods. I think all these statutes need further work and should not be passed. They need assent by the first two, and by a majority of diocesan synods. Even should they pass there, they then would need a majority of two-thirds in each order at General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW). This is their current situation:

[Update 13 October 2015
The last of the diocesan synods for 2015, that of the Anglican Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki, has just concluded meeting.
They did not discuss Statute 712 because a majority of diocesan synods had already not assented.
The Waikato & Taranaki synod assented to Statutes 711 and 713.]

Statute 711 to change the church’s Constitution

Of all times in our church’s history to start tinkering with our Constitution, and particularly in relation to authorising services – this must be the worst time! Our church has a very clear process to authorise services involving checks and balances of GSTHW (twice – the second after a new election), Tikanga (cultural streams), and dioceses. This statute seeks to abandon those checks and balances.

There is no need for Pakeha to see this Statute progress in a province that has the most flexible authorised services. And Maori and other cultures and language groups are better to see their services have equal status in the church (via the formulary track) – not to be second-class, allowed by this Statute should it progress.

The checks-and-balances process is tied to an Act of Parliament here. The Wellington, Nelson, and Christchurch diocesan synods have not assented to this Statute.

Statute 712 to change the baptism rite

Wellington, Dunedin, Auckland, and Nelson diocesan synods have not assented to this Statute. Christchurch assented to it but included a memorial/memorandum to GSTHW that there be further work done on it.

It seems that a lot of the debates presumed baptism comes at the start of the service, an entrance rite at “The Gathering of the Community” [with some families leaving the service as soon as the baptism has happened]. I know this happens all the way to cathedral practice. This Statute uses terminology not found in our current documents. So it seems, as the terminology is unclear, people argued for and against the Statute for the exact same reasons!

I think the solution to the perceived problem is better formation, not this particular confusing legislation.

Statute 713 would bizarrely make our naming of Sundays unique in Christian history

There are problems when we take a nice idea from one place and glue it onto something someone likes from somewhere else. Mother Church of England is always looking for more celebrations to vary the long, bleak British weather. So it follows a Christmas Season with a season from Epiphany (Jan 6) to Candlemass (Feb 2), followed by a Season they call Ordinary Time, a period until Lent when they count Sundays backwards to Lent (“Second Sunday before Lent” etc). Those who count “Sundays in Ordinary Time” do so from Epiphany. We have an Anglophile “Liturgical Precedence 2009″ which follows CofE, delaying Ordinary Time four or so weeks until February. This Statute combined with “Liturgical Precedence” makes February 8 this year, for example, our “First Sunday in Ordinary Time” while everyone else has it as the “Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time”! [And the CofE, whom we are following for the Season, but not for Sunday’s titles in this Statute, calls it the “Second Sunday before Lent”].

So this Statute would put us about four or so Sundays out of step with all other Christians. We would possibly be reading the readings for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time on what only NZ would call the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time! If you think people find things confusing now – wait ’till this goes through.

Wellington, Nelson, and Dunedin diocesan synods have not assented to this Statute. Best suggestion I have heard is: make sure 713 doesn’t pass and bring to GSTHW a revision of a combination of the good ideas of 713 incorporated with the best points of Liturgical Precedence 2009.

Further Reading

On Statute 711
Don’t Change Church’s Constitution
What Say We Don’t Pass Bill 4/Statute 711?
Amending the Constitution – Now What?
New Container for The Genie

On Statute 712
Amending the Baptism Rite – Now What?

On Statute 713
In or Of?
Of or In
Keep Church Year Simple

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