Team to prevent the church from splitting over gay marriage created by archbishops
A “working group” to help the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia address the ecclesiological and theological divisions over same-sex blessings has been formed by the churches three archbishops. At the May 2016 meeting of General Synod, the ACANZP voted to postpone a decision on whether or not to permit the blessing of same sex marriages until 2018. The synod asked the archbishops to create a “working group” to set the parameters of discussion and offer a way forward for the church to prevent schism. In a statement released last week, the archbishops proposed a a team of six with a “tightly focused mandate to identify ‘structural arrangements within our Three-Tikanga Church to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships’”. A second panel of consultants will be comprised of nominees suggested by groups in favour and opposed to same-sex blessings, as well as legal advisers. “There is a clear determination to come around the table and work for mechanisms that allow us to move forward together in mission without minimising or denying our differences,” the primates said. The team of six includes New Zealand’s leading conservative evangelical bishop, the Rt. Rev. Richard Ellena, Bishop of Nelson (pictured); the former provincial general secretary, Mrs Jackie Pearse; the Vicar of Massey in Auckland, the Revd Learne McGrath; the Chancellor of Christchurch diocese, Mr Jeremy Johnson; a lay member from the Diocese of Polynesia, Mr Fei Tevil and the Dean of Tikanga Maori at St John’s College, the Revd Katene Eruera. The working group has been asked to submit their proposals to the wider church for debate and review no later than 1 July 2017.