The Inside Column 25/5

Posted in: The Inside Column- May 25, 2014 No Comments

Good morning and a very warm welcome to all.- Notes from Bp Richard from General Synod

It is not always easy to see what a decision in formal language means for us on the ground. The very first item of business on the first day was a presentation from the Ma Whea Commission. That Commission had been established to consider pathways for our Church to follow in relation to issues flowing from same-gender relationships. They offered ten possible paths covering a wide range of solutions – the most extreme being intentionally planning to separate as a Church.

The discussions that followed the Commission’s report absorbed the vast majority of the General Synod’s time and energy over the following days. We were constantly moving into discussion. The discussion has been honest, passionate and deeply respectful. There were, of course, strong voices on both sides of the debate but there was also a large group of people in the middle who were committed to finding and maintaining unity within the Church.

After two days of intense discussion and debate there was sense of that we understood where we are as a church. A small and diverse group was created to bring a recommendation to the Synod so that some decision could be reached. They created a report which the Synod debated and passed without any amendment.

The acknowledgment of the centrality of doctrine and honest disagreement without personal attack, aggression or manipulation was extraordinary. The Church has not agreed to change that doctrine, but has set out on a path to preserve that doctrine while seeking a way for different approach to doctrine to be granted a structure within which to live. We believe that means that both parts will find themselves occupying some radically new structure, or else simply separating.

Both parts of the Church are numerically large, both wish to somehow stay as the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. We wait to see what proposals develop, and we are fully engaged in the work involved. Please keep praying for all involved and for Andrew Burgess, as well as Bp Richard as he continues to work within the House of Bishops and Ian Pask on General Synod Standing Committee.

The work before us is not to fight a battle, but to work hard while continuing to anchor an absolute commitment to the doctrine of our Church. As of today this Church remains in the same place as last week, but has put in place a group to do some work which we hope and pray may be blessed with a miracle (they happen all the time).

Yours in Christ

Philip

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