In May 2018 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand agreed to allow for the blessing of civil marriages of same sex couples. This was limited to situations where the clergy and dioceses concerned wish to do so, and their bishop agrees. My previous blog
It was a small step, a minimum, but a step nonetheless. I have been waiting for our bishops to lead us in celebrating this small step. To celebrate a first step in truly welcoming members of the LGBT community in our churches, and making a strong statement about inclusion in our church.
Instead we have had urging of caution, quiet negotiations and, “let’s not rock the boat in the hope all will stay” messages.
The following summary covers the dioceses of tikanga pakeha – I would be happy to hear updates and to know what the other tikanga are thinking:
The Diocese of Wellington warned of the “enemy who divides from within”
The Bishop of Dunedin declined to say what his opinion is:
In Auckland I am pleased to say our bishops have affirmed in meetings with clergy that they will permit clergy to undertake blessings, but there has been no public announcement yet.
I would assume Waiapu will do as well, but the “news” section on their website is gone so who would know?
Nelson remains silent.
In Waikato/Taranaki Archhbishop Richardson has said he is “not currently in a position” to authorise blessings.
Christchurch is attracting media attention as that is where clergy and members from four parishes are in the process of leaving (there may be others in other dioceses not yet declared).
It is important to note of course that the parishes themselves are not leaving, but the people within them, the actual parish and the buildings remain part of the Diocese of Christchurch, ready to be rebuilt by new leadership.
These groups are likely to affiliate with GAFCON, the organisation setting itself up as a parallel Anglican Communion. 58 New Zealanders attended the recent GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem.
Then last night Archbishop Philip Richardson, the Primate of the tikanga pakeha dioceses, was interviewed on Checkpoint by John Campbell. Rarely does the church get an opportunity to talk in the media. So what did our Archbishop say? Listen here
Did he use the opportunity to send a message of welcome and inclusion to LGBT members, inquirers and their families? Did he use the opportunity to seek forgiveness for past exclusion? Did he use the opportunity to preach the good news? Did he use the opportunity to welcome those who would like their marriages blessed?
He did not.
He praised those who are leaving. He spoke of his respect for them “individually and collectively” and said “he wanted to pay tribute to those who cannot accept this decision” and that he respects the integrity of that view and that belief.
I am speechless, astounded and totally perplexed. Why spend valuable air time assuaging those who are already leaving and have always intended to leave? And why pile on the “respect” for such an exclusionary position?
A recent piece of research showed that exclusion of LGBT people is the top reason why people steer clear of the church https://faithandbeliefstudynz.org (page 41).
And we know that the suicide rate among young LGBT people is still high.
And yet as a church our only public statement is to “respect” those who exclude and deny the reality of homosexuality.
On days like this I just want to give up.
Where has our leadership gone?