Episcopal News Service reports on the NZ General Synod:
General Synod on May 14 passed a resolution that will create a pathway towards the blessing of same-sex relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.
It will appoint a working group to report to the 2016 General Synod on “a process and structure” that would allow those clergy who wish to bless same-sex relationships – using a yet-to-be developed liturgy – to do so.
The working group will also be charged to develop “a process and structure” to ensure that clergy who believe that same-sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” to remain fully free to dissent.
The “process and structure” in their case would mean these clergy would not only be exempt from performing these same-sex blessings – but that their “integrity within the church” would be assured, and they would have full protection for their dissent in any relevant human rights legislation.
Synod has therefore upheld the traditional doctrine of marriage – but also moved to find ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, regardless of gender.
Bosco Peters writes on his Liturgy website that “One door opens another closes”:
I have consistently argued that the blessing of committed same-sex couples was possible through the Worship Template. Section 4 of yesterday’s motion, having acknowledged that as an understanding in the Ma Whea? Commission Report, now forbids that. A door to working towards Ma Whea?’s Option I has been opened (“Anglican Church to Add a New Rite of Blessing by Priests of Those in a Same Sex Relationship”). But Option B2 has been firmly closed.
With the permission of the bishop and vestry (or equivalent), clergy may “recognise in public worship a same-gender civil union or state marriage”, but this can no longer be a blessing (as many have been doing legally under our church’s agreements). I will be fascinated to see texts for such liturgies of “recognition”. As people have or develop rites of “recognition” I hope they will be publicly shared (online).
I would love particularly any member of GSTHW to give some indication how one recognises without blessing, remembering that, along with others, Anglicans understand giving thanks as effecting blessing.