The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has postponed a decision on whether or not to permit the blessing of same sex marriages until 2018. The proposal had been made by the Church’s “Way Forward” group which had been mandated by the 2014 General Synod with coming forward with proposals; but after days of discussion at this year’s Synod, the decision has been delayed.
Instead, the Synod voted to postpone the decision until 2018 “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” at that time. The motion that was passed by the Synod also “establishes and commits to pray for a working group to be appointed by the Primates [of the province] to consider possible structural arrangements . . . to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships.”
The three Primates of the Province, Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson and Winston Halapua, told Anglican Taonga: “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.”
A number of General Synod members gave their reactions to Anglican Taonga. The Assistant Bishop of Auckland, Jim White, was unhappy with the outcome: “I am deeply disappointed by further delay on making our church fully inclusive,” he said.
Another member unhappy with the decision was the Revd Richard Bonifant, from Auckland, who said: “We called this motion ‘A Way Forward,’ but I have come to think of it as something more like the ‘Land of Promise’. . . Once more, we find we cannot go into that land. This time in the wilderness comes at great cost to us.”
But the decision as welcomed by others. “For conservatives the ‘A Way Forward’ report left us feeling unprotected in our theological position,” the Archdeacon of Nelson, Tim Mora, said. “The new working group needs to constantly come back to the conservatives, to be sure that the recommendations are acceptable to them, before they bring it back to the next General Synod.”
He said that there was “a definite will from the conservatives to look for a way that will protect our integrity and allow us to stay together.”