Anglican Church of Southern Africa rejects blessing of same-sex civil unions

Posted Sep 30, 2016

[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] The Anglican Church of Southern Africa voted Sept. 30 to reject a proposal to allow “prayers of blessing” to be offered for people in same-sex civil unions under South African law.

The vote was taken by the church’s Provincial Synod, its top legislative body, on a proposal by the Diocese of Saldanha Bay, which stretches from the northern suburbs of Cape Town to the Namibian border.

The initial motion before the synod also proposed that bishops could provide for clergy who identify as LGBTI and are in legal same-sex civil unions to be licensed to minister in parishes. But the proposers withdrew this section before debate began.

Opposition to the proposal was strongest among bishops, with 16 voting against and six in favor. Sixty-two percent of lay representatives to the synod voted against it (41 votes to 25), and 55 percent of clergy (42 to 34).

The church includes Anglicans in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and on the island of St. Helena. Same-sex marriage is allowed only under South African civil law.

Before announcing the result, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba spoke of the “palpable pain” in the church over the vote:

“I wish I was in Makgoba’s Kloof (his ancestral home) … because if one (of you) is pained and hurt, it pains me too and I have learned as a priest that there are no losers or winners in the kingdom of God.

“The pain on both sides is palpable and tangible, and the image of a double-edged sword pierces me…”

He added that “all is not lost.” He said the issue might hopefully be taken up again at the next Provincial Synod in 2019, and the church could also consider raising it at the next Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops in 2020.

He also said the issue could be discussed at the local level in parishes and dioceses “so that we can continue to discern together the mind of God…”

After announcing the vote, he called for silence “as we bring before God the pain that this outcome will cause to some members of this synod, some members of our parishes, some members of our church.”


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Comments (6)

  1. Salley Stott says:

    Tragic…

  2. The Rev. Bill Cruse says:

    I am heartened by ++Makgoba’s words, and call for silence, which i interpret as reverence and honoring the pain. Had the vote gone the other way, there still would be pain. This is a difficult issue for The Church, as we discern, hopefully with prayer and together. I believe God’s love knows no boundaries. That’s how I experience God’s love. A bishop said to me 16 years ago, “If I’m wrong, I’d rather be on the side of loving.” Inclusion is Christ-like.

    1. Walter Brownridge says:

      Well said Bill

  3. In the spirit of accountability and transparency the Church ought to release the names of all the bishops who voted and the direction of their vote.

    1. Stephen Abraham says:

      To single out Bishops has very little to do with the spirit of transparency and accountability but the spirit of witch hunt. The Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit has spoken its mind period. If you want to withhold your financial support as is the usual threat for those who follow the Gospel, the way is now open for you and the other lobbyists.

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