As the General Synod gathered in New Zealand this week retired Tuesday night, they were asked to consider a rewritten proposal to replace the motion offered by the working group report, A Way Forward, recommending rites for the blessing of same sex civil marriages, and the implications for ordination of people in such marriages.
The Way Forward motion had recommended adoption of trial rites of blessing as church formularies. Anglican Taonga reports that while there was support for the motion across the region, the dioceses in New Zealand voiced serious concerns, and asked for time to address them. At least two of the diocesan synods had put forward motions of their own to receive the A Way Forward report and table it for discussion in four years’ time.
Synod moved into conference mode, and requested space to operate with only members and those with speaking rights present.
“This has been a very difficult day for us, a rollercoaster day in many ways;” Archbishop Philip Richardson said after a half-day in conference mode.
When synod reconvened on Monday evening Tikanga Pākeha asked its tikanga partners for time to amend motion 4 to take into account the concerns of members who oppose aspects of ‘A Way Forward.’
“We are saying something to our LGBTI brothers and sisters in Tikanga Pākeha, and it’s difficult: we are all aware of the pain our inability to move will cause to you,” Archbishop Philip said. “But it is our hope that we can get to a profoundly better place than we are at now.”
Synod agreed the new working group will comprise seven members – two from each tikanga and a legal adviser.
The Synod provides for three partners to order their affairs within their own cultural context: Tikanga Maori; Tikanga Pakeha; Tikanga Pasefika. Within Aotearoa New Zealand, Tikanga Pakeha comprises the seven Dioceses, and Tikanga Maori comprises five Hui Amorangi. Tikanga Pasefika encompasses Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands, and is known as the Diocese of Polynesia.
Representatives of the Maori and Polynesian tikangas expressed concern for their New Zealand colleagues, but also some frustration.
Ven Te Hope Hakaraia (Upoko o te Ika) offered the support of his tikanga:
“We are willing with Pasifika to move forward. However, we are not deaf; we have heard the anguish and the pain of our brothers and sisters in Tikanga Pakeha. We want you to come on the bus, to come into our tent. We want to use our manaaki to help you.”
… Anne Candy (Tai Tokerau), however, expressed reservations about any slowing of change,
“ We have held takatāpui [LGBTI people] captive by not offering them a place in our church.” she said. “I find it very hard that our church isn’t going to be about emancipation. How long do they have to wait?”
Synod will resume debate on the new motion addressing A Way Forward on Wednesday morning. Read more at Anglican Taonga here.