The report about the report about the report

My apologies to readers who are not interested in internal Anglican Church machinations but inside the church we continue to go round in ever decreasing circles as we attempt to bring about marriage equality.  Some of us are ready to move now; others never want to move; most are just looking to the church to find a way through the muddle.

In our own Anglican way we have been trying to work through this growing conundrum for much of the last decade. We have studied, we have talked (or tried to – even on rare occasions with LGBT people themselves), we have prayed, we even asked a former Governor General to help us. For all of this time faithful LGBT people including some who are ordained ministers in our church have watched and waited and prayed. And while many hundreds of other faithful Anglicans have had their relationships blessed, LGBT people like modern day Samaritans have had to stand by, noses pressed to our stained glass windows.

At General Synod 2016 the Way Forward report, which offered “same sex blessings” (ie not marriage) to the church, was left “to lie on the table.” A group was asked to consider possible structural arrangements to allow the blessing of same sex relationships to proceed. The Synod motion said there was “a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” in 2018. Speakers from tikanga maori (ie the Maori cultural stream in the church) who were quite ready to move in 2016 said “we are on the bus, the bus is ready to move.”

And so now we have the report of the aforementioned group, known as the Working Group Report.

And the bus is well and truly back in the parking garage with the engine taken out for servicing.

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Astonishingly, the Working Group (WG) recommends that the 2016 Way Forward Report be withdrawn in 2018. The group was asked to find a method for it to proceed and instead they want it withdrawn.

And in its place they suggest the weakest possible “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. Faithful same sex couples are expected to be grateful that they might be “allowed” a blessing IF their bishop agrees and IF their diocese writes a liturgy, which will not be an authorised liturgy written by the church as a whole (which is normally the way we Anglicans do worship).

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And the question of ordination is not even addressed. One of the drivers of the Way Forward report was the need to have a service available to a LGBT person who is called to ordination as priest or deacon. They need to be deemed to be in a “rightly ordered” relationship in order to be ordained (and hence the blessing service). No mention of them now.

In fact LGBT people are invisible in this report as they have been for much of the process. No acknowledgement of their experience of the church; how they have been ostracised and told they are not worthy; and how they have carried on being faithful anyway. No acknowledgement that they are among the ordained already and have been in our pews since the beginning of time.

Once again we find in the report that the “peace, unity and common good of this Church” (p10) is what needs protecting, not the real lives and real relationships of the people in the pews.

Even so the WG goes onto suggest what amounts to the dismantling of our established Anglican order. We Anglicans live a corporate life, governed by our dioceses, synods and bishops. We manage usually to live with diversity of theology and worship, all agreeing that it is better to be part of a whole that is bigger than ourselves.

Instead the WG proposes mysterious sounding “Orders of Consecrated Life” which could be formed – not as one might think for those called to live a life as a nun or monk or in a “third order” for lay people such as the Franciscans have – but a holy club for those who agree or disagree on this one issue. So affiliations across dioceses (or outside of the province) would be possible. The UK has had what are called “flying bishops” for those who disagree about the ordination of women. You can call another bishop in who is not “tainted” by ordaining women. This in practice completely undermines the life of a diocese. We wouldn’t be living in peace and unity, rather we would be operating in silos with those who agree with us.

To help this dismantling along, the declaration of submission, which those of us licensed in the church sign and by which we agree to be bound by wider authority, will no longer be binding us to General Synod but to the constitution and canons (or rules) of the church. So the authority of the body that leads us will be weakened and only those things laid down in the rule book will apply. General Synod can pass all the motions it likes – say on poverty, or climate change or even human rights – and we can happily ignore them while abiding by a canon, say, on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The Way Forward proposals seemed weak at the time, they seemed like a second class citizen option, but those of us in the progressive church were willing to accept them to allow for the breaking of the logjam and to allow LGBT members to be blessed and ordained. The report (WG) on the report (WF) on the report (Ma Whea 2014 – the original report) throws all that progress away and takes us nowhere.

At best with the WG provisions LGBT couples could seek a blessing on their civil marriage in certain parishes in the dioceses of Auckland, Waiapu, Dunedin and perhaps Waikato, and the Maori hui amorangi, assuming these dioceses and their bishops agree and write a local liturgy for the service. We assume (but it is not clear) that a candidate for ordination or a serving member of the clergy could also be licensed in these dioceses. For someone ordained thus, say in Waiapu, who wanted to then serve in Christchurch, they would not be able to do so.

So for the sake of the unity of the church (ie to stop a handful of parishes leaving) we will enshrine discrimination and exclusion in the fabric of our church. In what part of Jesus’ teaching is the unity of the church more important than the welcome of people to the table? Nowhere.

The WG report leads us up a blind alley of exclusion where more damage will be done to our Anglican polity than people realise. Not to mention the damage to relationships and faith of real people.

It’s the Working Group report that needs to be ditched. Put the Way Forward back on the table and get the bus back on the road.

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31 thoughts on “The report about the report about the report

  1. Well as a gay man and also as an ordained priest in the Anglican Church it is most disappointing that Tikanga Pakeha can’t sort something out. ( I came out to the Anglican Church in 2016).

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  2. Bloody appalling to read this backward step just when I as a humanist was starting to sing rh e praises of the enlightened Anglican church . Thanks for posting .

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  3. Unbelievably disappointing & so gutting for all LGBT in healthy loving relationships who wish to be blessed. Where is the love compassion and ability to let go let God & trust????

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  4. Enough! How long must we wait. Time for civil disobedience. Gather the names of those clergy and churches will will marry lgbt people make sure you call out some retired bishops on this. And start marrying us in Church. Blessings was never going to get us anywhere. Let’s do this! Let’s stand for love.

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  5. Many thanks for this,Helen. I couldn’t put it better myself.
    I for one, and I know there are others, will be arguing at our Synod in Auckland next month that we do not accept this report, but send it back.
    It is a truism of the academic world that the important thing is to get your question right. This working group have asked themselves, “what would it take to keep us together?”. What they should have asked was, “What would it take to keep us together, while putting in place the recommendations of the Ma Whea commission or something similar?” The answer to their question is predictable: We keep ourselves together by making the very tiniest change that can possibly be made.
    It’s as though the bus has finally moved off, with all of us on it, then has stopped two blocks down the road. We are not going anywhere, but isn’t it great that we are all on the bus?.
    Jesus wept.

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  6. I don’t envy the Committee as it has to take note of the most entrenched section of the Church that has declared categorically that it will never accept any change that would allow non-heterosexually oriented Christians the same rights as the rest of us. The version proposed which appears to leave the ultimate decisions in the hands of Diocesan bishops and perhaps Synods will not satisfy those who believe they have God on their side so are likely to leave anyway. It would exacerbate the state of near-crisis that we are already in but we have to act in accordance with the Gospel even if significant numbers of clergy and people decide to leave. It can’t be pretty as the situation at St. David’s Dinsdale in Hamilton has shown. but! those who choose to leave must not claim they were ‘kicked out’ or their clergy ‘forced out’ it simply isn’t true

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    1. Hi John – Interested to see the reference to the people of West Hamilton here – I know some of these people and feel for them deeply when I hear or read half truths about them. The facts should be told correctly. They certainly didn’t ‘choose to leave’ they simply said they could not sign submission to General Synod because of Motion 30. I hear the same protest was made by St. Matthews-in-the-City in regards to the Way Forward GS 2016. HOWEVER their non signing was seen as a ‘legitimate’ form of protest – no action taken at all (not get into all that rubbish about ‘different Diocese/Bishop different rules – RUBBISH!) The Vicar and Vestry of West Hamilton all had their licences removed because they did not sign submission. It seems to me they had no choice with no licences, but to either take the Church to Court or /walk away from their buildings. It appears the more Christian to do the latter – how traumatic for them all. I’ve since also heard their Crosslight Trust (which served the poor in the community for 30 years) was given notice to leave their building (on Church land and was required for something for the Diocese) – A building purchased, renovated etc by the Crosslight Trust but it was ‘required’ by the Diocese for the wonderful new plans it had (according to the Waikato Diocese website). It see now that it sat derelict for 9 months – as has any ministry to those in greatest need in that community – the poor too have been left derelict to fend for themselves. Whilst watching the News the other night a reporter said ‘a true liberal listens to those who are not liberal and can handle opposing views, but what we are seeing more and more in our society is the liberal left saying this is RIGHT and if you don’t agree shut-up or get out – we don’t care!’ I thought this is the attitude now of the Anglican Church in NZ to it’s brothers and sisters who are opposed to Motion 30. Sad times for the Church.

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      1. John (Leighton)

        I don’t know that it is very helpful to go back and forth with what others might have done or not done as we all inevitably get a story wrong.

        In the St Matthew’s example you cite it was the Vestry that declined to sign the adherence to General Synod in 2016 as a protest; not the clergy; and this year they have signed it as a gesture of good faith and in hope of progress.

        And I think all groups in our church do care about each other or we would not be in this situation of being so stuck. And while we are stuck more people leave because we cannot offer them the grace and welcome of God.
        Helen

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      2. Helen, I commented on John Marcon’s post re West Hamilton – I note you did not make a comment to him re ‘it not being very helpful to go back and forth’ on this topic of the injustice occurred to the people of West Hamilton, Is that because he is a liberal but anyone disagreeing must ‘shut up’? My opinion is we do need to keep talking about this as opposed to being told to move on or be quiet. Whilst St. Matthew’s Vestry were free to not sign submission to GS and no action was taken or was likely to be taken should they still not have signed (as you say they graciously did sign after a year), it appears the West Hamilton Vestry who did not sign because they legally believed the General Synod was in breach of its own constitution, had their licences removed immediately! Zero grace or tolerance was shown to them – the axe fell immediately, St. Matthew’s non submission was quietly ‘left’ as could have been West Hamilton’s – it amazes me how unjust this is. Surely EVERYONE else can see this regardless of whether you hold the views of either Church? For the Anglican Church which has been such a part of putting the wrongs of the past, right, alongside the Treaty of Waitangi in Aotearoa NZ, to remove these people’s licences thereby they have had to walk away from their land and buildings, which they paid for (they could have fought over it all the Courts I’m sure) one has to, surely, as part of this Way Forward journey, see that a grave injustice has been done! To simply question if it is helpful to bring this up (i.e. don’t) – I’m baffled how this injustice to allow one group the freedom to not submit to GS with zero action towards them and another to lose everything – is in anyway the Gospel in action. It may not be helpful to some to have to talk about this – but spare a thought, as I do often, for these brothers and sisters who have been treated so appallingly. This is simply someone responding to John Marcon’s post here and it needs to be addressed. These poor people were not offered the grace or welcome of God as you say and they have paid a very high price.

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  7. Helen

    Thank you for expressing your views, and I do understand the angst of those like yourself who view this issue through the prism of justice, inclusion and equality. If those were the only measures to be considered, then your concerns are entirely reasonable.

    However, for the sake of perspective it’s important to acknowledge that those seeking to retain the Church’s definition of marriage, and the understanding that sexual activity outside of marriage as sinful, do so from a heart of love and not from bigotry as some may imagine.

    If a ‘right ordered’ relationship is a prerequisite to human flourishing, and the definition of such a relationship is expressed in the Biblical narrative, then the existing doctrines of the Anglican church already provide for a comprehensive expression.

    Not all forms of love between consenting adults are affirmed by God in Scripture, regardless of sexual orientation. Even if you remove the negative passages regarding same sex relationships from the Bible, Jesus only ever affirmed sexual relationships between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. It would be strange indeed to extract a teaching on any subject from Jesus silence.

    Even if you took the view that same sex relationships were not explicitly condemned by Scripture, and that would be a minority view that has been unsupported in 2000 years of church history, then it is still not clear they provide a mechanism for human flourishing.

    While Jesus is inclusive, he isn’t ‘all inclusive’ as the parables of the five wise and five foolish virgins attest, the wedding guest found without a garment, and those who cried ‘Lord Lord’ and did many miracles in his name, whom he never knew.

    Christian love can be expressed in a variety of ways. If you believe that same sex relationships in the form of marriage are sinful, and that sin separates us from a loving relationship with God in Christ, then the most loving thing a Christian can do for their LGBT Christian friends, is to provide pastoral care and council that would lead them towards repentance, grace and forgiveness.

    Many Christians are called to a life of celibacy, both heterosexual as well as same sex attracted, as Jesus himself exampled. Beyond the issue of sexuality, we are all called to take up our cross daily and to follow him.

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    1. Brendan,

      your reflection illustrates why we have become so stuck on this issue as a church. We simply come at this question from completely different places. We look at scripture from a different vantage point.

      Both Ma Whea and the Way Forward reports accepted that there would never be a common mind if we tried to convince each other that our stance was the “correct” one. Engagement with scripture is always something that is a dynamic process between the word and the culture and time of the hearer.

      As we all know the nature of marriage in Jesus time is light years from our modern understanding of the equality of the relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus’ comments on divorce in Matthew 19 for example are designed to protect women from summary divorce and the consequent destitution that would follow if a man decided on a whim to reject his wife. Jesus is “silent” as you say on same sex marriage because it was not a concept for his time. Jesus often uses slaves as characters in his parables but do we argue that he therefore supports slavery? Of course not. We know he was using stories that made sense to his listeners and we interpret them for our time.

      You say that it is not clear that same sex relationships can provide a mechanism for human flourishing. You obviously have not heard the stories and witnessed the love that I and others have seen in the couples we serve in our congregations. “You will know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:20)

      But I know we will not change each other’s thinking by this conversation. The Way Forward proposal was at least a mechanism to move forward. It needs to be put back on the table.

      Helen

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  8. Thank you Helen for your timely post. This report is worse than disappointing, What it is doing is recommending that LGBT people should not be accepted by the Anglican Church. If we are setting rules whereby one group of people is treated differently in any way from the rest, then we are not accepting that group. I have attended the last 4 Synods of the Auckland Diocese, and it has seemed to me that there is too much emphasis on the fear that people (or even parishes) will disengage from the Anglican Church if same-sex relationships are in any way condoned. What we don’t hear about are the many many people who have left the Anglican Church because of our excluding attitudes and behaviours, I have known a number of Spirit-filled and talented LGBT people who have tried valiantly for years to serve in their parish churches, in spite of knowing that they were never going to be allowed to fully participate. In the end, it all got too hard for them, and they left the church. The church is the poorer for it. What is God going to say to us about our misuse of the talents he has provided for his church?

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  9. Helen, I am interested to know what you would see as a better way forward which would allow the ‘two integrities’ to hold together.

    Noting that; to add a formulary would be an official change to the Doctrine of ACANZP and is required to be assented to by any Office Holder (meaning that only one integrity would actually be upheld).

    The submission to GS/THW is unique in the Anglican communion, but I’m sure you knew that already. Bringing it in line with other Provinces gives the WG the flexibility is needs to re-work Title G so that those using the unauthorised service blessing same-gender civil marriages won’t be subject to disciplinary action. It appears to be a nessecary step in order to provide a work around and in the same step acknowledges that blessing such relationships is inconsistent with the Doctrine of the Church.

    I look forward to your way forward.

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    1. Zane
      The “two integrities” is a phrase developed to acknowledge that both “sides” of this debate come to their position from a contrasting view of scripture which is genuinely held and that trying to convince each other to change is fruitless.

      None of the reports have really gone into what we mean by “doctrine” in our constitution. That is another whole discussion.

      The Way Forward report proposed that the same sex blessing liturgy did not represent a departure from our received doctrine and I would agree with that. And even if it is seen to be a change we are not a church that stands still. The marriage of people who have been divorced would be an example. The ordination of women another.
      The Way Forward report outlined how we would proceed without anyone being obliged to use the new service of blessing if they did not wish to. Just as now clergy are not obliged to marry any couple just because they ask.
      We need the Way Forward proposals back on the table.
      Helen

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      1. Helen,
        I’m pleased that above you’ve been honest about the two integrities line , we should be clear that however deeply and genuinely held only one integrity is enshrined in the Doctrine, of this Church. I would suggest that to promote a position at odds with that Doctrine is to teach private and esoteric belief, until such a time as GS/THW changes that Doctrine. This should have been thoroughly dealt with before we got anywhere near the point we are at now. There is no confusion about the Anglican position on SSR/Marriage is, Lambeth 1.10 is abundantly clear.

        I’m not sure you understand the issue of integrity for orthodox Anglicans, protection from having to perform blessings is not our concern. The whole Church proclaiming a blessing on relationships which are condemned in Scripture is the issue. The understanding of blessing in our Church is plain. When Helen, or Zane pronounce a blessing they do not bless as an individual, the proclaim God’s blessing on behalf of the Church. This is one of the reasons presbyters offer blessings, but Deacons do not. So, when one presbyter proclaims a SSR is blessed by God, we are all implicit in the blessing. This is an area the WG hasn’t addressed.

        Divorce/remarriage and the ordination of women (which isn’t a Biblical issue at all, ordination isn’t an act of Biblical faithfulness, it isn’t even a thing in the Bible) are issues of the second order. Although I’d very much like to readdress the issues of divorce/remarriage.You’ve heard this argument before, but Paul’s clear teaching is that those in SSR put themselves in peril of being separated from the Kingdom of God. It is a salvation issue. I don’t expect you to agree with that. I’d suggest this is also an issue of the first order for progressive Anglicans. I assert this because as commenters here plainly state you are not prepared to let this go and to walk away from proposals for change to uphold Christian unity.

        So, can I ask again, what structure do you suggest for holding the province together, rather than simply putting the pedal to the metal on change and asking orthodox Anglicans to ‘like it and lump it’ or to leave?

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      2. Zane,
        We have not recently as a church made a real attempt to define what we mean by “doctrine” in the constitution. As you say we could have done more work on that. But to claim the Lambeth resolutions as our doctrine turns us into a church we are not. Lambeth can be seen to offer guidance but not determine our path. Lambeth is more about relationships – remember Bishop Tutu’s definition of the Anglican Communion – “we meet”.

        The issue of “integrity” as you describe it is still based on a biblical interpretation which we would not follow. Paul was not talking about same sex relationships as we understand them today but such things as temple prostitution.

        Rather than trying to find a new structure which somehow holds our tension in place I think we need to be have the grace to trust that we will each go about the mission of God in our place and offer hospitality to those who come, offering them the grace of God.
        Helen

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  10. While we continue to have to refute the argument that the way forward is for non-heterosexual Christians is to ‘repent’ we face chronic ignorance of the nature of sexuality. It would not occur to require the rest of us to repent of our sexual orientation as it is our life-time orientation and perfectly natural. Having ministered to those who have desperately tried to change – sometimes through their church or other programmes e.g. Exodus and seen the devastation wrought in their lives it is simply cruel and heartless to demand change to what would be a completely unnatural hetero-sexuality
    The argument that heterosexual marriage may be threatened by the affirmation of other partnerships speaks only to the fears some folk feel about marriage.

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  11. Hi Helen

    Thank you for your reply, and I agree that we are unlikely to change each other’s mind on this subject, but felt it was worth re-stating the orthodox position for the sake of context.

    To be clear, I doubt that anyone expects those of same sex attraction to ‘repent of their attraction’, but as with those who are heterosexual and unmarried, the Church’s reasonable expectation is that they will remain celibate. To put that into perspective, the requirement for celibacy affects a good deal more heterosexual Christians than it does those of same sex attraction. Therefore, it hardly seems reasonable or equitable to set this expectation aside for one group of Christians, but to uphold it for another based solely on sexual orientation.

    I accept this is an unpopular message for young Christians of all persuasions, but Jesus seemed unconcerned about popularity.

    At the heart of the issue however, is that while Anglican Church doctrine deems sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman to be sinful, others like yourself reject this view and are prepared to make exceptions.

    The issue of sin to one side, the blessing of extra Biblical sexual relationships becomes problematic on several fronts, not least where does this end? If love and commitment are sufficient of themselves to warrant the Church’s blessing, is the door not opened to other consensual sexual relationships that are also condemned in Scripture?

    Am I correct in assuming this a ‘non-issue’ for the proponents of SSB, and if it is an issue, on what moral basis could it be addressed assuming SSB proceeds?

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    1. Your contribution is important and I appreciate it Brendan – a check on some issues raised. Celibacy is a choice and may be revoked at any time without penalty – it is not a legal requirement of the Church. Of course those who wish to express their faith through a celibate order choose to maintain it while in the order. Anglican doctrine – as far as I know does not have a rule relating to sexual intercourse outside marriage beyond the requirement incumbent upon us all as Christians to behave in a morally responsible manner and remain in control of ourselves.
      Reference to biblical authority is always fraught with the reality that even those who hold a God-breathed view of Scripture do not agree on key understandings of what that means. There is the whole question also of ‘authority’ My understanding is that the hierarchical and largely cultural structure of pre-Christian Middle-eastern belief centred on a near-military pattern of everyone being under especially, women, children and slaves – or over others, senior tribal men over junior or lower class men with God as the dominating power. With Jesus came a profound change that was less concerned with authority and power structures and more with partnerships of equals before God and where loving relationships predominate over the old authority structures. The Church has no more right to require or demand celibacy of any category of its members. Just as we who are heterosexual do not expect such an imposition and would not accept it if it were neither should we require of non-hetero people and create a fundamental injustice.

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      1. Hi Helen

        Well, that’s an interesting if unorthodox understanding of sexual morality within the framework of Christian faith as it is lived out in relationship with others.

        It seems to me at least, that if we travel down the path of depreciating the authority of Scripture, and abstract Jesus life and ministry from the Law, and from sexual morality of the Old Testament, then we risk portraying Jesus as someone other than who he is.

        When James stood up in Acts 15, and after some debate determined to lay no burden upon the Gentile Christians, other than they abstain from food polluted by idols, sexual immorality, meat from strangled animals and from blood, he must have had some idea as to how they would determine what constituted ‘sexual immorality’.

        I don’t know how much weight you place on his instructions today, or indeed if you consider them still relevant, but assuming you do, where would the gentile Christians of the day understand sexual immorality other than from Leviticus or other OT teaching on proscribed sexual activity?

        When the Church at Corinth ignored the Levitical 18:8 injunction regarding one of their members who had a sexual relationship with his father’s wife, Paul rebuked them, and insisted they hand the man responsible over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. 1Cor5.

        Were Paul’s actions unloving? Was he in error?

        To help me understand your position better, do any of the Levitical prohibitions still apply to Christians, in your view? If you agree that adultery is still proscribed, but other Levitical prohibitions can be waved, then how so? Jesus never taught on the sin of ‘a man having loving and consensual sex with his father’s wife’ so why was the Apostle Paul outraged over this if not because of the explicit prohibition contained Lev18:8?

        How far can we consciously distance ourselves from the teaching of Scripture, the authority of which was continually affirmed by Jesus and by the Apostles, and still make a genuine claim to Christian discipleship? How many building blocks can we remove from the Christian faith before the entire edifice crumbles?

        I ask this not necessarily expecting a detailed answer, but rather to highlight the problems that stepping back from the authority of Scripture, and two thousand years of Church history present.

        That said I do understand that the notions of ‘justice equality and inclusion’ trump all else for many believers.

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  12. Greetings Helen Reference has been made to The Windsor Report – an appalling waste of resource predicated on a false assumption that the Primates were a superior authority when as I understand it they have no power to impose their will on the Communion as a form of collective papacy. My reference to St. David’s Dinsdale – a church very important to me as it was my parents church for nearly 25 years and we as a scattered family greatly appreciated the ministry they received and offered there. (both had died before the current situation arose.) My point is that if Anglicans – especially clergy decide they do not want to comply with the conditions of appointment and the requirements incumbent upon all ordained to submit to our empowering constitutional authority they are free to leave but need to accept full responsibility for their action. Any one of us may decide that the Constitution needs changing or observing in ways more acceptable to them and because we are are a community such changes need to follow the processes provided for. It does annoy me to hear that people are being ‘forced out’. If we adopt a positional belief that excludes worship with those who differ that remains our choice.

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  13. You express the issues very well, Helen. I have only two comments:
    There has been a very common mistake by the Anglican Church (and not just in NZ), that somehow it has some say in what is marriage. Many people think the church marries couple. It does not – they marry each other, and the church’s role is simply thst of blessing tne union. Just because a minister presides over a marriage ceremony does not mean that the minister marries the couple. If the minister is thought to marry the couple, then there would be no marriage outside the church. That, the church itself has never claimed. The point here is that the notion in A Way Forward that the church should explore a sevice of blessing for those who have had some civil ceremony shows a complete ignorance of the theology of marriage. Theologically, the marriage service is simply a service of blessing. The church’s issue is which unions is it willing to bless. Our LGBT friends get married anyway. The state hax had the grace to recognise that their marriages are true and valid. It is time the church caught up and blessed their unions in exactly the same way it does heterosexual couples who marry each other, and with the same rite. WF is theologically off the track.
    WG makes matters worse in the ways you name. To that I would add that if WG is agreed to we must stop thinking of the Anglicans in NZ as a church and acknowledge that we have become officially congregational in our polity. In a desire for a kind of unity, we have in fact abandoned any claim to it.

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  14. Responding to you Ken – your observations are spot on! Nowhere in the marriage services is there any reference to the presiding minister ‘marrying’ the couple. Having presided at some blessings of gay couple’s relationships I have been acutely aware that my role is identical to the one blessing a hetero-sexual couple’s union – a facilitator of a commitment to partnership the couple offer to and accept of each other. The State provides the legal license and confirmation of the relationship. We are also aware that a distressing number of marriages we preside over do not succeed as intended for life. That possibility does not prevent us from presiding – although I have invited a few couples to think more carefully of their action.
    As to the question of unity if we seek unity of doctrinal position we will never have it and surely that is not our objective when diverse beliefs have always been inherent in our understanding as Anglicans. Unity of belonging is possible unless some section decides that unless the whole church accepts their positional belief they will separate themselves. history is not on their side. so many who separate on one principle or another soon subdivide among themselves. the Sun-up section decides it cannot bear the Sun-down branch. the the Sun-up party separates into the Rising-moon division and the Waning Moon section – all parties claiming the leading of the Spirit. Is it too much of a cliche to declare that ‘love unites while doctrine divides?’

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