Synod votes to support local option on gay blessings, but restates its traditional views on sexuality
The Diocese of Nelson has voted to support Motion 29 — the proposal to allow individual dioceses to set their own path on same-sex marriage. The decision taken at a special meeting of Synod in the South Island New Zealand diocese on 10 March 2018 meeting at All Saints Cathedral in Nelson does not mean the diocese supports same-sex marriage, a spokesman for the Rt. Rev. Richard Ellena told Anglican Ink, but “what our Synod did decide was to agree to remain within the Church.”
In May 2016 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia meeting in Napier debated a report from the A Way Forward Working Group that offered options for the province on same-sex marriage. After extended debate the synod found it could not reach a common mind and tasked the primates with forming a six-member committee, under the terms of Motion 29, to move the church forward. The second group was asked to “consider possible structural arrangements within our the three Tikanga church to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships”.
The second Working Group, chaired by Bishop Ellena, reported that there were a variety of stances on same-sex marriage within the ACANZP that could not be reconciled across the whole church. It recommended a system of dual integrities, that permitted liberal and conservative dioceses to maintain their theological integrities, while holding together as a province.
The Diocese of Nelson, considered the most conservative of the New Zealand dioceses and a participant in the GAFCON movement, brought the conclusions of the second working group to last week’s meeting of synod for debate. By a 60 to 40 margin, sources tell AI, the synod voted to encourage its delegates to the May meeting of General Synod of the ACANZP in New Plymouth to endorse the dual integrities proposal. A second motion stating the diocese rejected same-sex marriage was adopted unanimously, while a third motion thanking the working group for its labors was endorsed. A fourth motion that sought to frame the diocese’s response to Motion 30, a proposal to change the formularies of the ACANZP to permit same-sex marriage if Motion 29 were rejected, was withdrawn.
A spokesman for the diocese explained:
Bishop Richard advises that the vote for Motion 29 was not about approving the blessing of same-sex relationships; what our Synod did decide was to agree to remain within the Church. Our Diocese is united behind the biblical mandate for our human sexuality (and has a statement to that effect which every person holding a bishop’s licence has to affirm and sign) but divided on the issue of unity. As an evangelically orthodox Diocese we believe that within Motion 29 we will be able to hold on to the truth of scripture that offers light and hope (we believe) without being compromised by a church that challenges traditional doctrine to reflect the values of this confused world.