Tuesday, 13 May 2014

General Synod 2014 Day Two

We've had a lot of spectators in General Synod. Some dozens of people have come to see the debate on the Ma Whea commission, and see what our church decides with regard to the ordination and blessing of people in same gender relationships. We are a church of the middle: most of us take the broad and open spaces of acceptance and tolerance, and I think that on this issue most of our people, quite used to taking on the one hand this and on the other that, are not quite sure what to think. The spectators by and large aren't drawn from the mainstream of Anglicanism. They seem to come, rather, from the encapsulating views at either end of the spectrum. So we have a group with rainbow scarves hoping for change and a smaller group hoping that we will all stand with our toes firmly on the traditionally held line. Both groups have had to be patient. They have been excluded from the gallery for much of the day as we have discussed matters in committee, and they have arrived at the end of yet another day when we have not been able to arrive at a decision. I am confident though that we aren't far away. (See here )

I must say the spectators have behaved extremely well. They haven't politicked or barracked. They have quietly prayed for us as we go about our work. In this, they have matched the mood of the synod. Our church holds together a wide range of opinions. We have people from the well educated avenues of Remuera and St. Albans and people from Pacific nations where homosexual practice is still a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment. We have some who sit with the pain of long rejection, who see themselves or their friends excluded from full participation in our church life. We have some others who have given their whole adult lives to the service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ within the Anglican church and now see our church denying that Gospel and moving away from its core tenets. All these and a hundred and sixty shades of opinion in between have been sitting in the same room, trying to find a way in which we can meet the needs of all parties, and trying to do it in a way which preserves the integrity and structure of our church.

We have talked for hours and we haven't yet reached a decision. We have talked as one large group and as part of smaller sub groups: clergy, laity, bishops, Pasifika, Maori, Pakeha. We talk as women and men, as straight and (a few of us) gay. For some the discussion is not going to affect us much, one way or the other. For some it is going to cost them their futures, their reputations, the life of their churches. Some are risking prosecution under church law or social opprobrium or even legal problems in their own countries because of what they may do as the result of these debates. For everyone here the issues matter. They really, really matter.

We have been deeply engaged. I have seen no acrimony, no condemnation, no judgement, no manipulation or bullying. I have seen cautious, prayerful engagement with each other. I have seen respect and trust. I have heard considered, reasonable argument and intelligent exegesis. I know what I want to happen tomorrow and in the months and years ahead. Whether I get my way or not, I guess I'll find out tomorrow, but over the last couple of days something has become very clear to me. It has dawned on me with greater and greater clarity why I choose to be an Anglican and why, no matter what happens tomorrow,  I can belong in no other church.

1 comment:

Yasmeen Elsayed said...

thanks ,,,,,,,,,,ul