Muriel Porter reports in the Brisbane Times that Conservative Anglicans have women priests in their sights.
…Australian Anglicans need not be complacent, however. The stark reality is that if votes even for women priests were now required in the Anglican Church here, let alone for women bishops, it is highly likely they would not succeed.
That was the take home message from our own General Synod held earlier this month in Adelaide. Mercifully, votes for women were not on the agenda at that meeting.
Over the 22 years since women priests were approved in Australia, the dominance of the conservative Diocese of Sydney has grown exponentially. And it has become even more conservative…
So could we see the unthinkable happen in this country, the legislation for women priests repealed? It happened in the Presbyterian Church. Could it happen here, even though there are now close to 500 women priests in Australia? It is believed some conservatives have a repeal in their sights…
Although there is as yet no announcement on the website of the Diocese of Grafton, in New South Wales, Australia, there are now several newspaper reports that The Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil has been chosen as the next diocesan bishop for Grafton. She will be the first woman to become a diocesan, as opposed to an assistant, bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia. The newspaper headlines below are misleading in this respect.
9NewsNational Anglicans elect first woman bishop
Finally, an accurate headline from:
ABC Canberra priest Sarah Macneil to be Australia’s first woman to lead Anglican diocese
From the diocesan website:
Archbishop Roger Herft AM has today written to all Members of Synod indicating that he remains unable to assent to the motion on human sexuality re-presented to Synod this year.
A Special Meeting of the Provincial Council will be called to determine the matter as required by the Constitution Act of the Diocese of Perth.
The full text of his letter is available here as a PDF.
He also wrote for a local newspaper: Archbishop’s opinion piece from The Weekend West.
Other press reports:
The Australian Archbishop rejects same-sex recognition
Updated again Saturday
The diocesan website has this announcement: Sydney Anglicans have a new Archbishop.
A synod of more than 800 members has overwhelmingly elected Bishop Glenn Davies as the 12th Archbishop of Sydney.
Dr Davies replaced Dr Peter Jensen who held the post for 12 years. For much of Archbishop Jensen’s tenure, Dr Davies served with him as the Bishop of North Sydney.
The other nominee for the post was Canon Rick Smith, the rector of Naremburn/Cammeray, a large church on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.
The final vote came after a complicated process of elimination ballots involving both houses of Synod - clergy and laity (lay people).
During an earlier elimination stage, a mix-up in vote counting made it seem as though Canon Smith had progressed through to the second round of voting. Between the sessions, there was an exhaustive recount which showed he had failed to gain the required majority in both houses.
The election then moved to the final stage and Dr Davies was elected…
A biography of Dr Davies is here.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the election this way: New Anglican Archbishop of Sydney chosen
Bishop Glenn Davies has been elected as the new Archbishop of Sydney.
Dr Davies was elected on Tuesday afternoon by the church’s synod, the governing body comprised of 800 members from 280 churches around Sydney.
The church described Dr Davies’ election victory as “overwhelming”. But it was only reached after problems with vote tallying forced a recount…
Muriel Porter writes for ABC Religion and Ethics The end of the Jensen ascendancy? What the election of Sydney’s new Archbishop means
…It would be fair to say that more moderate Sydney Anglicans approached the Synod on Monday with trepidation, if not foreboding. Particularly those from the dwindling number of traditional Anglican and Anglo-Catholic Sydney parishes feared the worst. They believed they could trust Davies to treat them with respect, but they had no idea how they might fare under Smith.
But when it came to it, the unthinkable happened. Smith did not get enough votes even to become a formal candidate in the first round of Synod voting. Both clergy and laity supported Davies’s candidature, but neither group gave Smith a majority. So last night, it was all over very quickly, with Davies, the only candidate, elected Archbishop with overwhelming support in the 800-strong Synod.
Davies has a maximum term as Archbishop of seven years. By then, Phillip Jensen and many of Smith’s key backers will no longer be Synod members, having reached retirement age. So suggestions that Rick Smith will now be groomed in readiness for another tilt at the top job seem fanciful. This was his backers’ last chance.
Commentators have been suggesting for a while that the ascendancy of the two Jensen brothers and their cohort had passed its peak, which might explain why they banked so much on such a young and relatively inexperienced candidate. A win for Smith would have tied the diocese to a Jensen-style leadership for a couple of decades, giving time for the next wave of hardliners to cement their influence. That will not now happen.
Make no mistake - Davies will not suddenly support the ordination of women priests or the acceptance of same-sex marriage. He will keep allowing deacons to preside at Holy Communion, even though it flies in the face of the rest of the Anglican Church and a decision of the Church’s highest court. The Sydney Diocese will remain deeply conservative.
But hopefully, the diocese’s relationships with the rest of the Anglican Church of Australia - increasingly strained in recent times - will mirror once more the same level of friendship and respect Davies has built across the country. That is perhaps the most important and far-reaching result from this extraordinary election.
Muriel Porter also writes for the Church Times Sydney elects new Archbishop which contains more detail of the election process.
Julia Baird writes for the Sydney Morning Herald The spirit of unity brings peace to a fractured flock
…Three astonishing things happened.
First, kindness and decency punctured old-style bullying and politicking.
Second, openness and transparency trumped harmful innuendo.
Third, young men pushed powerful old men off their perch; and they did so with forcefully gentle arguments. The old way of doing politics in Sydney - at least that which has ruled for the past 20 years - of number crunching, backroom deals and character assassination - was stomped on by rhetoric and reason.
Those who have long defined the diocese as hardline, insular and in opposition to the world, suddenly found they no longer controlled a majority of the synod; not even their old, reliable clergy voting bloc. The long-dominant factional leader Phillip Jensen had made two unfounded attempts late last week to deride Davies as mediocre and theologically suspect on his blog, but this backfired. He is now widely perceived to have lost his influence.
Stephen Judd , veteran synod member and author of Sydney Anglicans, described it as a “changing of the guard”. Others called it a turning point for the entire diocese…
We first reported on Sydney Anglicans and the threat to world Anglicanism at the end of August. Now here’s an update.
The coverage at ABC in Australia in response to the original excerpt from the book continued: in addition to the article Serious flaws in Muriel Porter’s misguided polemic by Mark Thompson previously linked, there was also another one by Michael Jensen, Are Sydney Anglicans actually Anglicans? and another by Peter Kurti It’s Anglicanism, Jim, but not as we know it.
Later, Bruce Kaye wrote about all this in Terms of engagement in Anglican war of words.
Now, Anglican Media Melbourne has published two articles: a news report on the book launch by Roland Ashby Sydney’s ‘harsh sectarianism’ a threat to church and a review of the book by Alan Nichols Exposing the agenda of the Sydney Diocese.
And, in England, John Richardson has written a review for New Directions which can be read here.
ABC in Australia has published this article by Muriel Porter: Sydney Anglicans and the threat to world Anglicanism. It starts:
Sydney Diocese has always been an important player in the Anglican Church of Australia.
It is the oldest and largest of the 23 Australian dioceses, and until its recent catastrophic financial losses, was the richest. It is also the most conservative, and is strident in defence of that conservatism.
But how could Sydney Diocese be a threat to the international Anglican Communion? After all, Australia, with just 3.7 million Anglicans according to the 2006 census - the same number as those Australians who claimed no religion - should be but a small player among the 80 million world Anglicans.
Yet in the first decade of the twenty-first century, under the leadership of Archbishop Peter Jensen, Sydney Diocese has become a force to be reckoned with in the Anglican Communion. As a leader of the alternative international Anglican movement focused in the Global Anglican Future (GAFCON) project, his diocese became what can only be described as a destabilizing influence.
And it ends with:
Overall, Sydney’s influence is of real concern for the future of world Anglicanism.
The article is an edited extract from Dr Porter’s new book Sydney Anglicans and the Threat to World Anglicanism.
Dr Porter is a journalist and author, a Fellow of the University of Melbourne School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, and a member of the Australian General Synod.
ABC News has published this response by Mark Thompson Religion & Ethics: Serious flaws in Muriel Porter’s misguided polemic.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy, says Jensen
ALLOWING same-sex couples to marry could lead to the acceptance of polygamy and incest, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has warned.
Writing in the church’s newspaper, Southern Cross, Dr Jensen said the push for same-sex unions to be enshrined in the Marriage Act was not a drive for the extension of rights but the redefinition of ”one of the indispensable foundations of community”…
The full text of Archbishop Jensen’s article in Southern Cross titled Real Marriage can be found here (pdf).
Australian Marriage Equality convenor Alex Greenwich hit back at the comments, saying any amendments to the Marriage Act would only mean that celebrants outside the Anglican community could perform same-sex marriages.
“The Archbishop should acknowledge we live in a secular, multi-faith society, and as such he must understand that his views should not be imposed on those religions that want to perform same-sex marriages, such as the Quakers and progressive Synagogues,” Mr Greenwich said in a statement on Saturday.
“Not one of the alarmist predictions made by the Archbishop have come to pass in any of the countries that allow same-sex marriages to take place, including Catholic Spain, Portugal and Argentina.”
Updated Sunday evening
The Church Times has a report Sydney synod defies Tribunal decision by Muriel Porter.
THE diocesan synod in Sydney has reaffirmed its 2008 decision to permit deacons to preside at holy communion, despite the recent majority decision by the national Church’s Appellate Tribunal that diaconal presidency is unconstitutional.
The synod rejected several attempts to amend a motion, brought by a Sydney regional bishop, Dr Glenn Davies, which “noted” what it described as “the advisory opinion” of the Tribunal but reaffirmed the 2008 motion that the Tribunal declared unconstitutional…
…Since 2008, Sydney diocese has implemented a permanent diaconate, ordaining clergy to the priesthood only when they become parish rectors. Assistant clergy and chaplains remain in deacon’s orders. The 215 active deacons in Sydney constitute just over one third of the licensed clergy, and are increasingly leading new congregations and church plants.
There are also reports on the finances of the diocese. A further Church Times report is subscriber-only until next Friday, but instead there are these accounts:
Church of England Newspaper Mixed report on growth and income given to Sydney synod
…The archbishop told the Synod the diocese was still reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis and the “financial issues are grave.”
“In round terms, it seems possible that the amount of money available” he said “to support diocesan works in the next few years is going to be reduced from the $7.5 million of 2010 to something like $4 million.”
The cutbacks in diocesan spending in 2008 were “only the beginning,” he said and warned that parishes might be asked to pick up a larger share of the diocese’s expenses in the years to come…
Sydney Morning Herald Anglicans warned church is on its knees
The Anglican Church in Sydney is in diabolical trouble. Already battered by the global financial crisis, the diocese is planning further savage spending cuts.
The archbishop, Peter Jensen, told the annual synod on Monday: “The financial issues are grave…”
Here is the official Sydney diocesan version of the story about the tribunal decision: Sydney resolute on deacons celebrating Lord’s Supper.
Updated again Friday evening
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia is meeting in Melbourne. The Synod debated the proposed Anglican Covenant yesterday (Monday) and agreed to send it to the 23 Australian dioceses for comment. A decision on whether or not to adopt the covenant will then be taken at the next meeting of the Synod, which will be in 2013.
There is a report by Mark Brolly at Anglican Media Melbourne Covenant to be debated for three years - Australian Anglicans.
There is also an official press release, which is copied below the fold.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports this as Anglicans try to resolve issue of gays.
Barney Zwartz at The Age writes Debate on gays brings world debate home.
The Sydney Morning Herald carries an interview with Archbishop Peter Jensen, see Church needs new vision, says Jensen.
Andrew McGowan has written a reflection on the synod, see The Grammar of Fragility: After Australia’s General Synod 2010.
Anglican Church of Australia General Synod
20 September 2010
Australian Anglicans back nationwide debate on Covenant
Australian Anglicans today agreed to an Australia-wide process for considering an international covenant designed to enhance the unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Anglican Church of Australia‟s General Synod agreed to ask all 23 dioceses to consider whether to back the Anglican Communion Covenant which aims to clarify how national members relate.
The Covenant – which is endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams – arose out of differences within in the Church in different parts of the world over human sexuality.
The decision by the Anglican Church of Australia came after Bishop Andrew Curnow of Bendigo told the Church‟s supreme decision making body in Melbourne that the Church was “at a crossroad”.
Bishop Curnow asked: “Are we just going to be a series of local autonomous churches that share a common history, or are we going to be a Church that is prepared to struggle with difference but be committed to the mission that Christ has called us to?”
“We need an Anglican Covenant to understand who we are as Anglicans,” he said. “We need an Anglican Covenant to understand what we have in common and how in the future we can work together as a communion of churches.”
Adelaide Archbishop Jeffrey Driver, who proposed the national debate, emphasised that General Synod was not being asked to accept or reject the Covenant but to initiate “a process of debate and discernment” throughout the Church in Australia.
“We owe the Dioceses of our Church the opportunity to give the Covenant careful and prayerful consideration and for us to be in a position to take their counsel seriously,” he said.
Bishop Garry Weatherill of the South Australian Diocese of Willochra said he felt “incredibly ambivalent about the Covenant”.
“I believe the Covenant as we have it now is too little, too late, too tricky and too simplistic but not simple,” he said.
Sydney priest and academic, the Revd Dr Peter Bolt, urged the Synod to reject the motion calling for a national debate saying many people around the world had already rejected the Covenant.
All Australian Dioceses are expected to comment on the Covenant by December 2012 in time for the next meeting of the Anglican Church of Australia‟s national parliament in 2013.