Thursday, 3 April 2014

Report of New Zealand Anglican Commission on same gender blessings and ordinations released

The report of the Ma Whea? Commission into the question of same-gender blessings and ordinations has been released by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

The Ma Whea? report and a précis are available.
Ma Whea? Report and précis
The above document includes a report from the Doctrine Commission, which is also available separately.
Doctrine Commission Report and précis

And there is this article on the Anglican Taonga website.

Ma Whea? Report released
The long-awaited report of the Ma Whea? Commission into the question of same-gender blessings and ordinations has been released.


The long-awaited report of the Ma Whea? Commission into the question of same-gender blessings and ordinations has been released.

The report, which is the fruit of 15 months’ work by five eminent New Zealand citizens, lists 10 options to inform the General Synod debate at Waitangi next month.

The options range from a more conservative statement about who can be blessed and ordained (ie a firmer statement than the canons now prescribe) through various degrees of change and liberalisation.

The options are:
Option A: Affirming Traditional Understanding
Option B: Preserving Present Circumstances
Option C: Bishops to Determine What Equals Right Relationships
Option D: Delegate to Diocesan Synods/Te Runanganui Power to Determine Right Relationships
Option E: Adopt a New Understanding
Option F: The Anglican Church Having Two Views
Option G: Dual Episcopacy
Option H: Planned Dismembering
Option I: Anglican Church to Add a New Rite of Blessing by Priests of Those in a Same Sex Relationship.
Option J: Adopt a Two Year Period of Focussed Discussion within Church Communities with a View to Making a Decision in (say) 2016

(These options are unpacked in a precis here. The unedited options can be read in the Ma Whea Commission report, which can be downloaded below. The list of options begins on P38.)

Ma Whea Report_2 final.pdf 1.43 MB

It is also important to note that none of these pathways is recommended – because in the words of Michael Hughes, this church’s General Secretary, “that is rightly a decision for the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui to make.”

The Ma Whea Commission (full title: Ma Whea?:Mei Fe Ki Fe?: Where To? Anglican General Synod Commission on same gender blessings and ordinations) was chaired by Sir Anand Satyanand, a lawyer who served as judge and ombudsman before being appointed as New Zealand’s 19th Governor General.

His fellow commissioners were Dame Judith Potter (a High Court Judge), Emeritus Professor Sir Tamati Reedy (Educationist), Mrs Mele Taliai (a Tonga New Zealander lawyer) and Professor Paul Trebilco (Professor of New Testament Studies).

The Ma Whea? Commission Report summarises 199 submissions on the ordination and blessing of people in same-sex relationships.

It summarises the biblical and theological work done by our church from the missiological, doctrinal, canonical, cultural and pastoral points of view. And in the light of Anglican ecclesiology, it considers ways forward.

The Ma Whea? report contains a number of appendices – including another significant and long-awaited piece of work, the report of the Commission on Doctrine and Theological Questions.

This Commission was asked by the General Synod Standing Committee to look into the theological rationale for the possible blessing and marriage of people in permanent, faithful same-gender relationships.

“This report,” says Michael Hughes, “contains a full and robust theological rationale to support such blessings and marriages – and a thorough and equally robust assessment of that rationale, including a rebuttal of certain aspects.”

It does not recommend a position of this church on these matters. That too, says Michael Hughes, “is rightly the responsibility of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui.”

(A precis of the Doctrine Commission report can be read here. The full report begins on P62 of the appendices to the Ma Whea? Report)

The Ma Whea? Commission was set up before the New Zealand Parliament passed its marriage equality legislation, and the Commission’s terms of reference were not changed to take account of that.

The Doctrine Commission, on the other hand, did its work in the wake of the law change, and it considers a theological rationale for the marriage of people in permanent, faithful same-gender relationships.

The Doctrine Commission’s full report can be downloaded below:
Doctrine Commission.pdf 876.81 kB

The GSSC commends both the Ma Whea? and Doctrine Commission reports to the church for prayerful consideration and discussion.

And through its General Secretary it has expressed “its deep gratitude to the members of both Commissions, for the extensive work they have undertaken to produce these two careful and comprehensive pieces of scholarship, which deserve to have profound and far-reaching impact on the life of the church.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 12:29am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: New Zealand

Good Lord, "Where to" at 102 pages in length certainly over shadows the CofE's Bishops' Pastoral letter and offers Anglicans in England an opportunity to comment upon how this contentious issue is being handled down under, just as Kiwi Father Ron never fails tenaciously to comment upon how this issue is being handled in this country.
I wonder which option, Father Ron will be supporting?
Option G sounds fascinating and would seem to me to introduce the concept of Alternative Episcopal Oversight into the equation.
Although the very mention of "Option G" brings back painful memories of when the CofE was discussing the marriage of divorced persons. The General Synod (pbuh) having voted down Options A to F was left with the dog's dinner of a final option known as "Option G" which, as I recall, did not go down too well in the dioceses, deaneries and parishes. Having failed to be approved it was then left thereafter to the then Bishop of Winchester to change the Church's concept of who it is willing to marry. As ever was, the central authority took the easy option of leaving it to the conscience of each individual parish priest to decide whether or not to marry those with a former spouse still living,
So the Mother Church looks with interest upon its antipodean daughter to see Quo Vadis!

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 7:25am BST

That is quite a burden you are placing on us NZers, Fr David. Not only do we have to teach ourselves how to leave colonialism behind, now we have to teach Mother Church how to find its way out of the maze!

Posted by: Peter Carrell on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 10:08am BST

That is a good few choices to select from. I suppose we must conclude that anything could happen in New Zealand. Not all that different from England really!

Well, there is always the Ordinariate.

Posted by: Paul Waddington on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 3:18pm BST

Section C of the main report is free of convolution and generous in tone. It touches the main points.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 4:35pm BST

The "Science" section is awful - it is based on Glynn Harrison and David de Pomerai work, who subordinate their "scientific" expertise to a their anti-gay theology. It also cites Neil Whitehead, another Australian reparative therapist, as well as Stanton Jones, a US reparative therapist.

Posted by: etseq on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 5:48pm BST

David I'm sure uses the term "Mother Church" with a smile at the corner of his mouth.

For those that don't get David's humour, I would say in this day and age, terms like that are pretty irrelevant now as probably everyone in the Anglosphere (USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc) now regards themselves as an equal at whatever tables we are gathered, be it trade, academic think tanks, Anglican church, etc, and anything else is ancient history which isn't even taught anymore. A majority of people in Canada would no longer call the UK the "mother country" in any matter that was discussed, so those terms can be unhelpful by getting their backs up which don't make things any easier for the rest of us who have to stop and calm them down, lol.

That aside, for the sake of a "debate over beer", I'd postulate that in terms of the Anglican church in the senior Anglosphere countries, that it's the Episcopal Church in America which is now in the effective leadership role.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 6:22pm BST

Here is my reaction


Posted by: Rev. Bosco Peters on Friday, 4 April 2014 at 8:56pm BST

Two thoughts from me

Peter Carrell, I know you are being funny in your response to Fr David, but I wonder if we should take his suggestion seriously. After all, without all the baggage of an Established Church that the C of E brings to its parallel debates, and without the armed camps of extreme opinion that seem to drive debates in North America, but with a fair record of managing diversity, it could be that the ACANZP might be able to find a way forward that could be an encouragement to other provinces. Putting that another way, in my more hopeful moments, I can imagine us in NZ coming up with a solution that both you and I, from "opposite" sides of this particular debate, could live with.

But my second point is that, in my more negative moments, and I seem to be experiencing more of those at the moment, I echo the comment of Scot Peterson on the thread about the Welsh process: "... my real bet is that another commission will be formed at the direction of governing body, which will have to take another five years to take evidence and issue another report. Takers?

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Sunday, 6 April 2014 at 10:33pm BST

I doubt whether New Zealand Anglicanism could afford gay flying bishops!

Posted by: robert ian Williams on Monday, 7 April 2014 at 9:43pm BST
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