Kiwi General Synod Vote Threatens to Split Church
Can you guess what the vote might be over? Of course you can! The New Zealand Herald has the story:
Proposals being considered by the Anglican Church could see gay marriage services carried out in churches by gay priests.
Bishops and priests are to vote on proposals covering the blessing of same-sex civil unions, the church’s response to requests to marry those couples, and ordination of gay priests.
The debate, to be heard next week at a meeting of the church’s ruling body, the General Synod, has created concern it could divide parishes in New Zealand and - if adopted - cause a schism with the international faith.
The move comes against a backdrop of acknowledgement that secret blessings are being carried out contrary to church rules, and just weeks after moves to address concerns relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members by appointing a committee to report on the issue by 2014.
Here are the motions,
Now all of this is pretty standard fare, right? Nothing we’ve not seen in TEC or Canada etc so far. But here’s where it gets interesting. In a constitutional position that 815, Schori and Booth-Beers could only dream of achieving, Kiwi clergy are required to assent to and affirm the authority of General Synod. It is my understanding that conservative clergy, not least a large group in the diocese of Christchurch, are considering whether they will have to resign their licenses if the vote goes through.
There’s a helpful summary of the Anglican Church in New Zealand in the 2005 Churchman article “The Nature of Ministerial Authority in the Anglican Church in New Zealand” [pdf] which contains the actual “declaration of adherence and submission”. The pertinent section is this:
AND I further consent to be bound by all the regulations which may from time to time be issued by the authority of the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui in relation to any such office or membership so long as I hold it;
Again, this boils down to an integrity issue. For years the liberals have disregarded this vow - as the NZ Herald article makes clear:
The move comes against a backdrop of acknowledgement that secret blessings are being carried out contrary to church rules
which, of course, surprises no-one.
Do please pray for the orthodox in NZ, that God would grant them wisdom courage and grace to deal with what will come over the next week. We’ll seek to keep you updated.
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