IDC

The last two days have been spent in The Inter Diocesan Conference, a meeting of the seven Pakeha dioceses, teasing out our common ground before we meet with the Maori and Pasifika parts of our church in the General Synod. We have been meeting in a large windowless room with the air conditioning turned up way too high, so it's been a bit like meeting in a gymnasium in Dunedin, except that I think in Dunedin I would have been warmer.

Yesterday morning we had a bit of a break from discussions to be welcomed by our hosts, the Diocese of Polynesia. We made a short bus trip through Nadi to St. Christopher's Church and were seated under a giant marquee and it wasn't a bit like meeting in a gymnasium in Dunedin, or anything else in Dunedin for that matter. We were formally welcomed in the Fijian way, with great dignity and energy, but with a very important difference. Usually, at such an important gathering, elders would have performed the welcoming ceremonies, but Archbishop Winston Halapua is utterly committed to the essential priorities of furthering the ministry of women and of encouraging young people. So, yesterday the ceremonial actors were very young indeed. Kava and a roast pig were offered and received. Speeches were made in Fijian and Graciously returned in Maori and English. Fine mats were gifted. A morning tea of byzantine size and intricacy was served and then we were entertained for an hour or so by more of the young people of the diocese. From Fiji, Tonga and Samoa they took turns to sing and dance for us. It was energetic, joyous, funny, sensual, spiritual, bawdy, reverent, graceful. I found myself at times moved deeply, almost to the point of tears and I'm still not sure why. Perhaps it was the presence of so many young people- hundreds of them - which I am so unused to in an Anglican context. Perhaps it was so many of them smiling shyly but exhibiting a complete ease with themselves and a pride in who they were in their respective cultures. Perhaps it was a sense that I was looking at a shift in the centre of gravity of our church. Some young Fijian Indians danced to techno pop in a style that was pure Bollywood. Samoans and Tongans and Fijians danced with hands and bodies to the complex rhythms of drums and to inventively used brass instruments. In every case they sang and danced to the glory of God, but the idiom was of the emerging nations, not of the missionary past. The self confidence and energy of the young Pasifika Anglicans yesterday was loud testimony to the fact that the Anglican church is predominantly now a church of the emerging nations.

A bus ride later and we were back shivering in the conference room, talking through the matters which concern us older grayer people. There was some preliminary discussion of those motions regarding relationships which the news media seem so interested in, and which it will probably be wise to leave undebated until the Gender Commission has done its work. There is one of those motions which I hope is not left lying around on the table however. Glyn Cardy, the Vicar of St. Matthews in the City, the Auckland church of billboard fame, is proposing an investigation into the theology and meaning of marriage. Glyn intends this, I know, as a preliminary exercise in getting the church to think through the possibility of blessings for people in same gender relationships, but I think it is of far wider importance than that. I suspect the church has lost its way on the issue of marriage, and we need to take stock. I for one would be pretty keen to follow up on Glyn's suggestion and hope we can give his sensible motion the air time it needs.

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