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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