New Zealand postpones decision on same-sex blessings

by Gavin Drake
Posted May 12, 2016

[Anglican Communion News Service] The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has postponed until 2018 a decision on whether or not to permit the blessing of same-sex marriages. The proposal had been made by the church’s “Way Forward” group, which had been mandated by the 2014 General Synod to come forward with proposals; but after days of discussion at this year’s synod, the decision has been delayed.

Instead, the synod voted to postpone the decision until 2018 “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time. The motion that was passed by the synod also “establishes and commits to pray for a working group to be appointed by the Primates [of the province] to consider possible structural arrangements . . . to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing” of same-sex relationships.

The three primates of the province, archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua, told Anglican Taonga: “We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected, but we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”

A number of General Synod members gave their reactions to Anglican Taonga. Assistant Bishop of Auckland Jim White was unhappy with the outcome. “I am deeply disappointed by further delay on making our church fully inclusive,” he said.

Another member unhappy with the decision was the Rev. Richard Bonifant from Auckland, who said: “We called this motion ‘A Way Forward,’ but I have come to think of it as something more like the ‘Land of Promise’. . . Once more, we find we cannot go into that land. This time in the wilderness comes at great cost to us.”

But the decision was welcomed by others. “For conservatives the ‘A Way Forward’ report left us feeling unprotected in our theological position,” Archdeacon of Nelson Tim Mora said. “The new working group needs to constantly come back to the conservatives, to be sure that the recommendations are acceptable to them, before they bring it back to the next General Synod.”

He said that there was “a definite will from the conservatives to look for a way that will protect our integrity and allow us to stay together.”

  • Click here for more detailed reports on the debates by Anglican Taonga.

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Comments (4)

  1. Frank Riggio-Preston says:

    SHAME! Conservatives in the communion need to be forced to live in a word of deep bigotry and discrimination like we have to endure. Maybe they will learn what Christ’s love is really about.

  2. Lisa Fox says:

    I wish all New Zealanders would face a prohibition on their marriages until 2018. Let them see what this wait feels like to their faithful gay & lesbian brothers and sisters.

  3. Selena Smith says:

    “SHAME, forced, bigotry and discrimination, Christ’s love” & “wish, prohibition, feels like” sounds like
    anger and oppression.

  4. Art Fountain says:

    The notion and accusation that conservative Christians approach the issue from a standpoint of oppression is itself discriminatory and oppressive. I have several close friends in same sex relationctcships and one couple are married. I maintain friendship and even close fellowship but draw a line at assuming it is my or even a church’s prerogative to reassign the design and intention expressed in the book of Genesis and reasserted in the New Testament. We should be hesitant in our age of permissiveness and general promiscuity to assume we Are well equipped morally or intellectually to manage the responsibility of so far reaching a challenge.

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