And So It Begins

I got a big fat package in the mail today. It is all the documents required for General Synod, which is to be held in Napier in about a month's time. There's a whole swag of stuff and much of it looks pretty inportant and interesting, but of course the one issue that most people are really interested in is the report of The Way Forward group, on same sex marriage. Tomorrow I'll be going to Southland: I have a couple of meetings to attend but the main business will be a discussion I will be leading on the Way Forward report. This will be the first of such meetings in our diocese, and another two will follow in the next fortnight.

I have read the material, looked at the proposed new liturgies for the blessing of civil marriages, and thought through how we might best discuss the contentious issues the report deals with. I'm certain of one thing, and that is no-one is going to change their mind, but we all knew that anyway. The Way Forward seeks a formula by which we might remain together as church despite our differences and the proposed scheme is quite a clever one. It allows dioceses or hui amorangi to decide for themselves whether they will allow the blessing of same gender civil marriages, providing such marriages are lawful in that particular see.

The proposal will meet many of the practical obligations raised by same gender marriages: it will give a way in which a candidate for ordination who happens to be in a same sex marriage can have that relationship assessed as 'rightly ordered' according to the canon on discipline. It will allow dioceses and individual clergy who have theological objections to performing such blessings to decline to do so.  There are two liturgies being suggested, one for same gender couples and one for differently gendered couples. The differences between the two are so slight it took me quite a few minutes of careful comparison to find them.

The question we will need to consider is whether all this careful work will enable us to live together as one church with our differences. Time will tell, but if the whole church can find the level of  mutual respect and openness to the Holy Spirit which was manifest in General Synod 2014, then there is hope for us.


Thank you Kelvin. I believe that we can learn to live together as one church with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Barbara Harris said…
Amen to that, Brothers and Sisters in Christ.