Monday, 22 February 2016

New Zealand working group publishes draft rites of blessing

We reported in May 2014 that New Zealand synod acts on same-gender blessings

The Way Forward Working Group has today released its report. It proposes two rites of blessing to be considered by this year’s General Synod.

The Way Forward Working Group was set up in the wake of the 2014 General Synod adopting “Motion 30” (, the resolution that created a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships – while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage. Motion 30 called for the appointment of a working group to devise “a process and structure” by which this could happen – and a process and structure to ensure that clergy who believe that same sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” remain fully free to dissent.

The full text of the report is available here and there is an Executive Summary here.

Update Here is a link to a PDF version of the full report and another link to a PDF version of the archbishops’ covering letter.

Here’s the first part of the press release:

The long-awaited report of the Way Forward Working Group] has been released.
Today’s publication comes almost 18 months since the 13-member group began its work – and it proposes two new liturgies to be considered by May’s General Synod.
These liturgies have been designed to allow for the blessing of couples who have been married in a civil ceremony – according either to New Zealand law, or to the law in the Pacific Island nations which form part of this church. These liturgies also create a pathway for the people in such relationships to become ordained.
Civil marriages between a man and a woman have long been recognised in law in both New Zealand and in those Pacific Island nations. In New Zealand’s case, of course, an amendment to marriage law came into effect in August 2013 – which allows same-sex couples to legally marry.

“A crucial matter for debate”

The Way Forward Working Group (WFWG) report makes a precept-upon-precept case for how such civil marriages could be blessed by the church.
The Anglican Church in this province is governed by a set of documents, the most significant of which are the Church of England Empowering Act of 1928, and Te Pouhere , the Constitution of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, which came into force in 1992.
Te Pouhere in turn specifies a number of “Formularies” (such as a New Zealand Prayer Book/He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa ) which guide the Church in its worship and practice.
The new constitution also spells out a way in which formularies can be changed (or added to) –providing these changes don’t, in the words of the report, “represent any departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as defined in Te Pouhere’s own Fundamental Provisions.”
The rites of blessing being proposed are being presented as “additional formularies”, rather than doctrinal changes:
“It is the view of the majority of the group,” the report notes, “that the proposed liturgies do not represent a departure from the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, and are therefore not prohibited by Te Pouhere, however the group also recognises that this will be a crucial matter for debate.”

There is more, go here for the rest of it.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 22 February 2016 at 3:48pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | New Zealand

"The blessing of a marriage for same-sex couples is presented as a separate rite from that offered for use by opposite-sex couples, although the two rites will be found to be largely similar."

I think the Kiwis are kidding themselves, if they believe the Primates won't send them to the naughty corner, along w/ TEC. :-/

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 4:12am GMT

"I think the Kiwis are kidding themselves, if they believe the Primates won't send them to the naughty corner, along w/ TEC. :-/" JCF

I think they realize the "naughty corner" (love that, thanks JCF) isn't as much a punishing/dark voyage as a delightful vacation in the SUN! It's a walk in the park!

Leonard Clark
Leonardo Ricardo

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 4:26pm GMT

I just can't see the Maori or Polynesian bishops/laity within the Church endorsing this.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 5:47pm GMT

I for one, would be glad to spend some time in the naughty corner with our friends from TEC, and I predict that what will move the Communion away from the uneasy compromise by the Primates last month will be other Provinces choosing to make changes of this sort even if they bring "relational consequences". I would even welcome a resolution by General Synod voluntarily imposing the same conditions on ourselves as have been imposed on TEC.

Having read most of the report, I believe the most significant part of the proposals, and the one that will bring the most energetic debate at General Synod is the expanded definition of "chaste living". Until now, the only acceptable forms have been celibacy or marriage, so if marriage is not available to GLBTI folk, it is impossible for them to be living chastely in any form of sexual relationship. It's a sort of Catch 22, which the proposals promise to break.

If that part of the report is accepted (and I pray that it will be) then the need for the new rites of blessing follows naturally.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 7:50pm GMT

RIW: The late great (Maori) Archbishop Sir Paul Reeves would definitely have approved.

Posted by: Turbulent priest on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 11:54pm GMT

Have readers noticed that what is proposed in this 'Way Forward' in our Aotearoa/New Zealand'Pacifica Church - though short of a marriage ceremony for Same-Sex couples - does allow for a 'Blessing' of a lergally married Same-Sex couple. It even would allow a clergy-person in a civil partnership to be 'Blessed' in the Church.

This is one stage further than the just-announced
"Acceptance" of LGBT couples and their families in the Anglican Church of South Africa. Abp. MakGoba has stated, though, that their relationships may not be "Blessed" by the Church. Nor may anyone be ordained who is part of a Same-Sex relationship.

So, at least, ACANZP, is one step ahead of the A.C.S.A. on this issue. I wonder what Archbishop Desmond Tutu would have to say about that?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 23 February 2016 at 11:56pm GMT

Many studies have shown that Maori are no more homophobic than Europeans, RIW
All members of the Maori and Mana parties voted for Same-sex marriage in the parliament.
Polynesia is not so welcoming but I would say this very much due to missionary colonisation. Note that same-sex marriage is legal in areas colonised by the French.

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 at 4:39am GMT

Point taken..but I think with the evangelical diocese of Nelson there will not be a easy passage. Plus the fact that in twenty seven years no women bishops have not been consecrated in the Maori and Polynesian dioceses.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 at 7:21pm GMT

Robert, you don't seem to understand - not having lived in Aotearoa for many years now - that ACANZP, the Anglican Church in New Zealand, now operates under 3 separate jurisdictions. This means that Pakenham, Maori and Pacific Islands sections of our Church are acknowledged as having diverse but coordinated cultural streams.

Your comments about differences in likely diocesan responses to the 'Ma Whea' Commission findings will be catered for explicitly by the proposed provisions for individual diocesan action to be taken.

Furthermore, in traditional Maori and Pacific Islands culture - which we respect by virtue of our 3 Tikanga cultural stream - there are still reservations about female leadership, although, if an outstanding woman should ever be discerned as a likely episcopal leader, I'm pretty sure she would be considered.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 24 February 2016 at 11:15pm GMT

And, in the meantime, there are rumours of a Sydney diocese cultural war on gay people in the Australian Church. From the Newcastle Heroald comes the news:

"Cultural change: Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson has criticised the emergence of a "para Anglican Communion" led by the conservative Anglican Sydney diocese. He says there is a need for cultural change in the church.".

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 25 February 2016 at 9:43am GMT

Wow Ron, paganism trumps St Paul!

Posted by: robert ian williams on Thursday, 25 February 2016 at 4:46pm GMT

Yes, Robert. Nearly as scandalous as duplicate popes - or the child abuse problems in thre R.C Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 27 February 2016 at 9:02am GMT

Bosco Peters has a major article about some issues with this proposal

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 3 March 2016 at 3:31pm GMT
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