The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia opened last Friday in Napier, with planned discussion topics including environmental concerns, childhood poverty, gender-based violence, confirmation – and the blessing of same-sex marriages.
A report prepared by the Way Forward Working Group was specifically liturgical in nature, according to the Episcopal News Service:
The working group say that the proposed new rites of blessing are “additional formularies” rather than doctrinal changes: “It is the view of the majority of the group that the proposed liturgies do not represent a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and are therefore not prohibited by [the Church’s constitution], however the group also recognises that this will be a crucial matter for debate.”
The Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has decided to table its ‘A Way Forward’ report on blessings of same-sex couples until General Synod 2018, “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time.
Archbishop Brown Turei, Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Winston Halapua will appoint a working group to establish a structure that allows both those who can and cannot support the blessing of same-sex relationships to remain within the church with integrity.
The three archbishops made this statement today:
“We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected.
“But we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”
“Today the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia chose unity over justice,” says Rev Helen Jacobi, Vicar at St. Matthew-in-the-City which is in the Diocese of Aukland. From a story posted on GayNZ.com.
“In my 24 years as a priest I have always been proud of my church. Today I hang my head in shame. We have chosen rules over love, and doctrine over gospel. We have imperiled the mission of the church.
“There were strong voices for change from many parts of the church but not enough.
“At St Matthew-in-the-City we will continue to welcome our LGBTI community and assure them of their place in our church and in the heart of God. We will not abandon them and will continue to work for justice. To them today we express our deep sorrow and seek their forgiveness.”
Additional coverage of Jacobi’s response can be found in Hawke’s Bay Today.
This article has been edited to correct some of the information in our first story. Thanks to our commenters for improving our reporting.