Thinking Anglicans

New Zealand elects Victoria Matthews

Updated again Monday evening

According to Stephen Bates in the Guardian’s People column:

Interesting times beckon in Antipodean Anglicanism, where the former Canadian bishop Victoria Matthews – narrowly beaten to become Canada’s primate last summer – has been elected Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand, a place she has never visited. She is a theological conservative who nevertheless voted that gay partnerships do not violate core church doctrines, which should bring her into interesting relations with the arch-conservative Archbishop of Sydney across the Tasman Sea, Peter Jensen, who does not believe that women should be put in charge of anything, least of all a church. The defeated candidate for Christchurch was the combative dean of Southwark cathedral, Colin Slee, who will thus remain a thorn in the flesh of C-of-E conservatives.

Updates Sunday evening

Two further reports, from New Zealand:

Gay-supporting bishop could split Anglicans from stuff.co.nz

Canadian woman tipped to be bishop from the New Zealand Herald

Update Monday evening
Anglican Journal reports from Canada that New Zealand diocese chooses Matthews as bishop:

Canadian bishop Victoria Matthews has reportedly been chosen bishop of the diocese of Christchurch in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, according to church sources and published reports.

The news was communicated to the Anglican Journal by church sources and also reported in the Guardian newspaper in Great Britain. Bishop Matthews, who served as bishop of the diocese of Edmonton for 10 years until she stepped down last year, declined to confirm news of her selection until the New Zealand church made an official announcement.

Lloyd Ashton, the Auckland-based media officer for the province, also declined to confirm the report. “What has happened is there has been a leak to a U.K. newspaper and it is quite regrettable that confidentiality has been breached. The election is still in process.”

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Pluralist
Guest

That’s about right, Simon (Sarmiento), describing the tangled web we weave back and forth.

Pluralist
Guest

Sorry, too harrassed today – I realise now the picture is Stephen Bates’s and you have just posted it Simon. It is still surely right though.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

According to the Christchurch website any election has to be ratified first by the NZ bishops and then by the General Synod, with a formal announcement mid March.

http://www.chch.anglican.org.nz/main/Electionofbishop/

toujoursdan
Guest

Odd. I wonder what the thinking is. She was already diocesean of Edmonton. It’s a lateral transfer (albeit to a more charming place.)

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

Congratulations to her — glad her health is improved.

Glad we shall continue to enjoy the ministry of Dean Slee.

Richard Lyon
Guest
Richard Lyon

It seems strange to me that the candidates were from Canada and the UK. You would think that they would want someone local.

Margaret
Guest
Margaret

It is interesting that the Diocesan profile states that they were looking for:

• Orthodoxy
– “theologically orthodox”
– “believes Bible is the Word of God”
– “orthodox in belief and practice”

I wonder what Colin Slee made of that.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Hmmm. First a Welsh ABC, and now a Canadian bishop for Kiwis.

[I can think of one Brit who *desperately* wanted to be a bishop of Yanks—so much so that he went out and found a (Nigerian) primate who would make him so! (But only in their deluded, unAnglican minds…)]

Malcolm+
Guest

Good for Victoria.

They wanted an orthodox bishop, and they got one.

She obviously believes in the ordination of women.

She rejects the false primacy that has been given to “the issue.”

She has specifically condemned those who accuse all liberals of “not taking the Bible seriously. (She has likewise specifically condemned those who accuse all conservatives of being homophobic.)

She has also had no truck nor trade with “conservative,” faux-orthodox schismatics.

Geoff McLarney
Guest

+Victoria has a reputation as a moderate theological conservative (though her remarks on the floor of GS’07 re: same-sex blessings were hardly censorious) and was the Anglo-Catholic doyenne of the Canadian House of Bishops. She also sent her ordinands exclusively to Wycliffe College, Toronto (except for the whiz kids, who went to Yale). I suspect thence the reputation for “orthodoxy.”

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Theres a colony of pro-Sydney evangelicals, led by a dynamic powerful British born preacher (ex-Royal navy man), Wally Behan. Wally stood up and objected the ordination of an openly gay deacon in Dunedin Cathedral.

The Ch Ch evangelicals are close to the evangelical bishop of Nelson ( who has recently set up his own theological college)…so this election could well be blocked…..they will not tolerate the headship of a woman, let alone one who is pro-gay.

Malcolm+
Guest

BTW, Victoria was not a diocesan. She resigned as +Edmonton effective the new year. So far as I know, she is actually more or less unemployed at the moment.

The diocesan website (edmonton.anglican.org) has a page on the episcopal election.

MrsBarlow
Guest
MrsBarlow

It’s a wonderful appointment, and gives real meaning to the Anglican Communion. I wish there was more trafficking across the oceans that separate us! +Victoria resigned from Edmonton late last year, and it’s terrific that she’s found a new calling in her episcopal ministry. It’s also a great outcome for both Christchurch diocese and the Church in Aotearoa / New Zealand, as it’s been 18 years since they last elected a woman as bishop. Perhaps this will help put an end to Sydney’s incursions into New Zealand too.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Mrs Barlow:Perhaps this will put an end to Sydney incursions! You ‘aint seen nothing yet.

stephen bates
Guest
stephen bates

Can Margaret, who presumably does not know him – or clearly anything about him – cite on what grounds she believes Dean Slee not to be orthodox? As he said in an address at the launch of Inclusive Church at St Mary’s, Putney in August 2003: “We need to relearn the vocabulary. I give you an example: I insist the cathedral clergy wear black shirts, because it is a statement of history and origin, a uniform deeply rooted in tradition and monastic antecedents; none of those sky-coloured shades indicative of a deep Mariological tendency which would shock their habitual wearers;… Read more »

L Roberts
Guest
L Roberts

I am none too keen on someone who imagines it is acceptable to ‘insist’ on what grown adults wear, as if he were head of a prep school, rather than dean of a cathedral.

Or who thinks it is godly to impose his own preferences by fiat because, he beleives he has the power. How would this differ from coercion ? If at all.

WShep
Guest
WShep

A page speaking of ‘the missing months’ of +Victoria

http://www.wycliffecollege.ca/news_details.php?nid=143

Ren Aguila
Guest
Ren Aguila

I’m thrilled to hear about this. I think the Kiwis have sent a message to the Canadians that they made a huge mistake in electing someone who, unlike Matthews, would bless an act of civil law that, in the light of history and the need to ensure the survival of our species, is clearly wrong.

Not to mention, of course, that she’s a woman, which would as some have said sent messages across the Tasman Sea.

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

If this report is correct, then Bishop Matthews’ first task as Bishop of Christchurch may be to talk firmly to her synod members about confidentiality. In the New Zealand system we are asked to respect the confidentiality of our Electoral College until the process of endorsement by the Bishops and General Snod has been completed. Three possibilities exist: a) This result may be overturned. This is not common, but it has happened before. b) It may not be true.- certainly I have not heard it from any official source in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. c)… Read more »

B, Ault
Guest
B, Ault

I’m writing from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which has been Bishop Matthews Diocesan home. At the risk of creating impossible-to-achieve expectations, she’s simply wonderful, and would have made a great primate. She has tremendous dignity, grace and a quiet, wonderful humour. Our loss is definitely your gain. A further note: there can be a huge gap between being “pro-gay” and believing the issue isn’t part of core doctrine.

Ron Ashford
Guest
Ron Ashford

Stephen Bates, in seeking to establish proof of Dean Slee’s orthodoxy, cites a speech given by Slee 4 1/2 years ago which deals with clerical shirt colours/patterns, more than anything else.

If indeed this is the best evidence which can be brought to justify Slee’s orthodoxy, then I would concur with Margaret that her concerns are well founded.

Ron Ashford – Auckland, New Zealand

Brian R
Guest
Brian R

“The Ch Ch evangelicals are close to the evangelical bishop of Nelson ( who has recently set up his own theological college)…so this election could well be blocked…..they will not tolerate the headship of a woman, let alone one who is pro-gay.” I was surprised when I visited Nelson Cathedral to find the preacher,(one of the Assistant Priests) was a woman. I have just checked the website and find at least one parish has a woman as Vicar. I was pleasantly surprised by the service as I knew there had been historical contacts with Sydney. It in no way resembled… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Women are ordained in Nelson, but the diocese is still concerned with the theological liberalism of the wider province. In fact Nelson was the last diocese to ordain women, and the last bishop is now serving in the ultra-evangelical diocese of Egypt. Bishop Ella hss made no secret where he stands on Windsor. That is one of the reasons that the Bishopdale Theological College is being revived. A previous Bishop of Nelson vetoed the appointment of Oestreicher as Bishop of Wellington. Meanwhile the last “liberal” bishop of Christchurch allowed the importation of a curate from Sydney, and conservative evangelicals from… Read more »

Gareth Morgan
Guest
Gareth Morgan

In response to Ron Ashford who clealy suspects that Dean Slee is not orthodox on the basis of Stephen Bates’ quote from the launch of Inclusive Church contained in his book; I think you are missing some of the substance of the quote. Yes there is fair mention of clerical dress, but there is also the rather significant mention – in contrasting Sydney’s orthodoxy – of the desire for lay presidency, scant regard to canon law on liturgy, re-baptism etc on the part of Sydney. These are fairly significant divergences from Anglican orthodoxy which could never be levelled at Dean… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

I hope this will not become focused on the losing candidate Slee. It is obvious that the nomination of Bishop Victoria has been deliberately leaked and there is now a concerted campaign to scupper her appointment.

MRG
Guest
MRG

Here is a link to the story from a (not terribly reputable!) New Zealand news website:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/4414143a11.html

Puzzlingly, this site trumpets VM as “pro-gay”. On Anglican websites she is referred to as “conservative”. I’m confused… Surely there isn’t that much difference between the internal politics of the Church in Canada and the ACANZP?
I’d like to reaffirm Edward Prebble’s point that the Diocese of Sydney is as far away from New Zealand as Moscow is from London. They have much less influence than S. Bates seems to think.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

But there is a colony of Sydney in Christchurch, courtesy of the last bishop, who even allowed Jensen to preach in his Diocese and the congregation headed by Wally Behan to import a curate from Sydney. You can get a good flavour of this Church within a church by visiting the St John’s website (st Johns evangelical Anglican website) and listening to the sermons. There is also the latimer Society , head quartered in Christchurch…they are split on all the usual evangelical topics ( womens ordination , divorce etc), but opposition to homosexuality unites them. Their director was the other… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest

I don’t know how many people constitute the electoral body of the Diocese of Christchurch, but if it is more than about five, it is pretty naive to expect them all to maintain a dignified silence for several weeks.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Shocking really that this CONFIDENTIAL info has been released.

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Parts of New Zealand are more conservative than parts of Canada. Then there’s the three pronged strategy.

Sure, there will be politics, but New Zealand is far from homogenous. In fact, one of the things you might be able to guarantee is that if someone tries to decree a one flavour fits all they will choose the diversity advocate.

Brian R
Guest
Brian R

I attended a service at the Cathedral in Christchurch in November 2006
At the beginning of the service a new altar cloth was dedicated. It was bright red and had many languages embroidered in gold. There was a comment about the dedication being delayed due to controversy. On returning to the Cathedral later I asked the guide about this controversy. He said it had been opposed by evangelicals because it included writing from the language Sanskrit which is pre-Christian ?????? He asked “Do you know the sort of people who run the Sydney Diocese? I groaned and said “Only too well.”

MargaretG
Guest
MargaretG

Thanks Ron — I couldn’t have put it better myself.

When someone defends orthodoxy (which I understand comes from the words meaning “right belief”) with a quote about clothing, I suspect that we will be forever talking past each other. I don’t care what he wears — I care what he believes.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

” I don’t care what he wears — I care what he believes”

That is where we truly differ. I don’t care what he believes as long as he walks faithfully with God.
I know that I am not the judge of his faith, nor he the judge of mine.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“He said it had been opposed by evangelicals because it included writing from the language Sanskrit which is pre-Christian ?????? “

I am unaware of any language–except perhaps Esperanto–which is not, at its roots, pre-Christian…including Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, the languages of the Bible.

stephen bates
Guest
stephen bates

If Margaret and Ron are up to it, perhaps they could – as Gareth Morgan suggests – read as far as the second paragraph of Dean Slee’s address, which I quoted earlier, and tell me what is unorthodox about it. That’s not about clothing at all.
If Margaret really cares what Dean Slee believes (which I somehow doubt) perhaps she would care to enlighten the rest of us as to how he is “unorthodox” – citing chapter and verse please Margaret, if you can.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

In all fairness to the Evangelicals and the issue of the ChCh Cathedral communion table cloth, it was the fact that the Sanskrit was from the Hindu Scriptres. There were also koranic verses in Arabic.

Apart from offending other religions, I’m with the Evangelicals on this for the God of the Christian revelation is an extremely jealous God and brooks no syncreticism.

MRG
Guest
MRG

@”the God of the Christian revelation is an extremely jealous God and brooks no syncreticism.” Leaving aside for a moment, RIW, your extraordinary insight into the attitude of God towards non-Christian religions (which sounds more like that of a tribal Canaanite deity than of an omnipotent Christian God) the Sanskrit passage on the Christchurch altar-cloth reads: “From the unreal, lead me to the real. From darkness lead me to the light. From death lead me to immortality.” Just what is unChristian about that? Indeed, the only possible offence that I can see in including this passage would be from Hindus,… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Let’s just get the facts straight about the Christchurch cathedral altar cloth.
The many languages included a sanscrit version of a prayer in the NZ Prayer Book (p.164)
Please Robert Ian Williams cite where you got “koranic verses in Arabic” as this is the first mention of them I know of!
Furthermore your jealous god must struggle with Christmas, etc.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“it was the fact that the Sanskrit was from the Hindu Scriptres. There were also koranic verses in Arabic.”

But surely, that doesn’t NECESSARILY make it false, does it?

“There is no God but God”: regardless of whether it’s in English or Arabic (ala the Koran), from a *Christian* point-of-view, it’s still true! [And NOT a syncretism: Arabic-speaking *Christians* pray to God as “Allah”, too]

Jerry Hannon
Guest
Jerry Hannon

“…the Sanskrit passage on the Christchurch altar-cloth reads:
“From the unreal, lead me to the real. From darkness lead me to the light. From death lead me to immortality.”

Oh,my; St. Francis of Assisi wouldn’t have had a problem with that, nor do I.

Sometimes I wonder about the “purists,” and what their motivations may really be. It almost seems a sickness.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

I would like to withdraw the inaccurate statement that verses from the Koran were included. Apologies. However the Latimer Fellowship of New Zealand( not society ) as I also inaccurately wrote have an excellent article on the issue.

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Definition of syncretism courtesy of http://www.answers.com/topic/syncretism “Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous. Linguistics. The merging of two or more originally different inflectional forms.” The God of the Christian revelation is an extremely jealous God and brooks no syncreticism. That might be true of their God. But Jesus and the God of gods never had a problem with syncreticism. Otherwise why does the bible refer to the God of gods (thus acknowledging lesser gods)? Then there’s the whole appropriation of pagan concepts into Christianity… Read more »

Tony Fitchett
Guest
Tony Fitchett

Is it so unreasonable to expect Synod members, after unanimously agreeing to confidentiality, to keep their word for a couple of weeks? Yet after the Dunedin Electoral Synod of 1989, which finished at about 10.00pm, Radio NZ was on the phone the next morning trying to confirm the leaked name of the nominee. It it Evangelicals opposed to woman bishops who do this, perhaps? I notice that Mike Hawke, who must have been a member of the Electoral College, seems happy, whatever he agreed to in the College, to talk openly [and hopefully] about the possibility of the nomination not… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

I still think its wrong to put Vedic verses next to inspired Scriptural texts…surely one is entiled to their view on this. Although if it is just a sanskrit translation of an Anglican Prayer Book text I would have no objection.

Not everything evangelicals do is wrong. When I was an evangelical, I received many blessings and I loved the sense of community and purpose, along with the worship and praise and the eagerness to hear the Word of God.

For I confess they are a people zealous for God, but not according to Knowledge.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Here is the prayer that Robert Ian Williams finds unacceptable:
http://www.liturgy.co.nz/reflection/peace.html

Here is the cathedral altar cloth with images:
http://www.christchurchcathedral.co.nz/news/media_releases.html

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“I still think its wrong to put Vedic verses next to inspired Scriptural texts…”

And by what omniscience do you declare (or at least assume) that the Vedic is not similarly inspired…? Or, in your view, does the Spirit only descend upon Christians…or before the last two millenia, Jews?

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Tony Fitchett is spot on. Conservative forces of various hues are at this moment working FLAT OUT TO SCUPPER THIS APPOINTMENT…it s life and death to them. Up to now New Zealand has ( apart from ethnic divisions) been spared alternative episccopal oversight….lets hope if the nomination goes through, Bishop Matthews does not not entrench that ” principle ” in the Southern hemisphere.

It solves nothing….and the ” conservatives ” keep returning back for more.

So forget the communion table cloth-frontal and get back on topic!

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Knowledge does not equal truth. Especially when knowledge is applied selfishly and opportunistically. It leads to a kind of myopic blindness and deafness that can lead to a theology that thinks that God intends to assign the vast majority of souls of all nations and all times to hell. Sorry, but God created humanity with sentience and free will. How could a just God create such a thing and then tell the overwhelming majority they are condemned? I know of one soul who would do that, but then I don’t call that soul the Prince of Peace or Comforter or… Read more »

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

Tony Fitchett, when do synod members “unanimously agree to confidentiality”?
There is no mention of it in the canons.

Tony Fitchett
Guest
Tony Fitchett

I don’t usually reply to Anonymous, but as only information is requested I will do so in this case. Oddly, the Canons do not aim to “contain everything necessary for salvation”. They do not presume to dictate to the Electoral College the processes they use to secure a nomination [see Title A Canon I Clause 2.8] apart from the requirements that a name be proposed and seconded by a cleric and lay person or vice versa, that the ballot be secret and that a decision requires assent by each order. I cannot speak authoritatively of what happened in the recent… Read more »