The Church Times carried this report by Muriel Porter on 23 July: Conservative Evangelicals plan new diocese in Australia
THE conservative Evangelical group GAFCON Australia has formulated plans for the creation of a diocese for “Anglicans who will be forced to leave the Anglican Church of Australia“, according to a media statement…
Here is the full press release from GAFCON Australia: GAFCON Australia backs plan to form non-geographic diocese for Australian Anglicans
Then on 30 July, there was a further report by Muriel Porter: GAFCON ark too early, Australian Primate observes
..Archbishop Smith criticised the board of GAFCON for not showing restraint until the Australian Church had had an opportunity to discuss the Appellate Tribunal’s decision. Instead, GAFCON’s decision was “ramping up the tensions among us”, he said. GAFCON’s move, he continued, was in contrast to the “very significant restraint . . . shown by people who might want to see movement toward the blessing of same-sex couples”.
Despite the forecasts, there had not been a “flood” of blessings of same-sex unions after the tribunal decision, he said, “Not a flood, not a trickle, not a drip”; so “faithful, orthodox Anglicans can continue with confidence as members of the Anglican Church of Australia. To suggest or insinuate otherwise is to not speak the truth.”
The letter from the Australian Primate Archbishop Geoffrey Smith mentioned in that report can be read in full over here.74 Comments
… and other news from Australia and New Zealand
updated to add another press report
updated Thursday to add reaction from leaders of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand
During his presidential address to the Sydney diocesan synod a week ago, Archbishop Glenn Davies said:
My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our Church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views – but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture. Please leave us. We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.
Four days after his address The Sydney Morning Herald published this piece by the archbishop, My words were for the bishops and I stand by them, which included this:
When I said “Please, leave us”, my words were directed at bishops of the church, and those who wish to change our doctrine, and I stand by those words. The words were not directed at members of our congregations, especially those who identify as gay, whether single or married.
The archbishop’s remarks attracted a lot of attention – see the press reports below.
The Melbourne diocesan synod also met last week and voted to record its “sorrow” over the decision by the diocese of Wangaratta to bless same-sex marriages.
There are also reports that Archbishop Davies and other Australian bishops took part in the consecration of a GAFCON bishop in New Zealand at the weekend.
Archbishop Davies’s remarks gathered a lot of attention in the press, and there is also coverage of the other news from Australia and New Zealand.
Anglican Taonga Church denounces ‘crossing boundaries’
Leaders of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have spoken out against boundary-crossing by Anglican bishops who supported the ordination of a bishop for a break-away church last Saturday.
Press reports and comments
The Sydney Morning Herald Archbishop accused of trying to ‘split’ Anglican church over same-sex marriage
The Guardian ‘Please leave’: why the Sydney archbishop’s same-sex marriage message has Anglicans rattled
“The blunt words of Sydney archbishop Glenn Davies come at a critical moment for Australian churches and demands for religious freedom”
The Guardian Anglican churches reject Sydney archbishop’s stance on same-sex marriage
“Churches in Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria say they welcome everyone and his comments cause ‘deep distress'”
Julia Baird The Age Even conservative rectors shuddered: why Sydney Archbishop’s words hurt
The Sydney Morning Herald ‘Crisis point’: the Anglican church is riven by worse divisions than ever before
Craig D’Alton humane catholic Melbourne Synod 2019, and beyond
Eternity News NZ gets two Anglican Churches. Maybe Australia will too
The Guardian British bishop rebukes Sydney Anglican leader’s call for gay marriage supporters to leave church
“Bishop of Liverpool says he regrets that Archbishop Glenn Davies ‘seems to want to exclude people rather than to engage with them'”
sydneyanglicans.net reports: Archbishop presents proposal for NZ Anglican future.
Archbishop [of Sydney] Glenn Davies has addressed some of the leaders of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP), proposing ‘Distinctive Co-existence’ as a solution to the issues facing the Church after their Synod’s decision to allow the blessings of same gender relationships….
…The essence of the Archbishop’s proposal was what he called ‘Distinctive Co-existence’, modelled on the jurisdiction of Anglican Churches in continental Europe.
“It is interesting that within Europe there are two overlapping Anglican Churches: the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe under the jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC). Each has differing constitutions and canons, yet they share the same Anglican heritage. Could not the model of continental Europe provide a new way forward for Aotearoa and Polynesia?”
The full text of the archbishop’s proposal is available here.26 Comments
Muriel Porter reports in the Church Times Setback to same-sex weddings in Australia.
BISHOPS in Australia have declared that it is not “appropriate” for same-sex weddings to take place in Anglican churches or halls, or the chapels of Anglican schools or other Anglican organisations, given the Church’s doctrine of marriage as being between a man and a woman.
They will give “further consideration” to the appropriate content of informal prayer for same-sex couples outside a public service, as well as to the difference between blessing and solemnising a marriage, and the issues involved in Anglican officials’ being present at a same-sex marriage or blessing.
The Anglican Church’s response to the passing of same-sex marriage legislation in Australia late last year (News, 15 December) was decided at the Bishops’ annual meeting, held in March, in Canberra…
The full text of the document is now available here.9 Comments
Updated again Saturday
Buzzfeed has reported: The Sydney Anglican Diocese Gave $1 Million To The “No” Campaign.
The Anglican Diocese of Sydney has donated $1 million to the “no” campaign in Australia’s postal survey on same-sex marriage.
Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies announced the hefty donation in his address to the 51st Synod of the Diocese of Sydney on Monday afternoon.
He told the gathering that the diocese had been a founding member of the Coalition for Marriage, along with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Marriage Alliance and the Australian Christian Lobby.
“The Standing Committee has also enthusiastically backed our participation in the Coalition For Marriage and has taken the bold step of drawing down one million dollars from the Diocesan Endowment to promote the ‘no’ case,” he said.
Davies told the gathering that “the stakes are high and the cost is high”…
…The Archbishop spoke of the challenges confronting society including, but not only, same-sex marriage.
The Diocese is a founding partner of the Coalition for Marriage, the group leading the No case. The Diocese of Sydney, along with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Marriage Alliance and the Australian Christian Lobby make up the major partners, but since its formation a further 80 organisations have joined in common cause.
“The Standing Committee has also enthusiastically backed our participation in the Coalition for Marriage and has taken the bold step of drawing down one million dollars from the Diocesan Endowment to promote the ‘No’ case. Brothers and sisters, the stakes are high and the cost is high. Yet the cause is just and it is a consequence of our discipleship to uphold the gift of marriage as God has designed it—a creation ordinance for all people. Dr Davies said he would “make no apology for encouraging all Australians, especially Anglicans, to vote ‘No’ in this postal survey. I believe that a change in the definition of marriage is unwarranted, not just because it is in opposition to the teaching of Scripture and our Lord himself in Matthew 19, but because I believe marriage, traditionally understood as a union of one man and one woman, is a positive good for our society, where marriage and the procreation of children are bound together as the foundational fabric of our society, notwithstanding the sad reality that not all married couples are able to conceive. Moreover, I consider the consequences of removing gender from the marriage construct will have irreparable consequences for our society, for our freedom of speech, our freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. It is disingenuous to think otherwise, given the evidence to the contrary in Canada, the US and the UK…”
The Archbishop has published a further letter, here.
Muriel Porter reports in the Church Times Sydney diocese donates half a million to campaign opposing same-sex marriage.
Christian Today Harry Farley reports:Australia’s same-sex marriage referendum: Sydney clergy blast ‘extraordinary use of church money’ after diocese’s $1m donation to ‘no’ camp.46 Comments
A complaint about the action of those bishops has now been raised by four other Australian bishops, and the primate has referred the issue to the Anglican Church of Australia Appellate Tribunal for a ruling.
Here’s the documentation, well part of it. The whole file can be found over here.
We refer to your letter of 2 July to all the Bishops, and to the participation of three of our colleagues in the consecration of a person in a church not in communion with this church.
We believe that this action raises fundamental questions of ecclesiology in respect of the Anglican Church of Australia. Failure to have the questions which arise from the actions of the Archbishop of Sydney, the Bishop of Tasmania, and the Bishop of North West Australia properly determined will mean that our fellowship in the college of Bishops will be gravely impaired.
We would therefore urge you to refer to the Appellate Tribunal pursuant to S.63(1) of the Constitution questions which arise both from the actions of our colleagues and the letter under reply.
With every blessing
The Rt Rev’d Andrew Curnow AM
Bishop of Bendigo
The Rt Rev’d Bill Ray
Bishop of North Queensland
The Rt Rev’d Kay Goldsworthy AO
Bishop of Gippsland
The Rt Rev’d John Stead
Bishop of Willochra
Australian Associated Press reports Anglicans ‘can accept gay marriage vote’
Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier has written to the country’s Anglican bishops insisting the church can preserve its view on “holy matrimony” while accepting the will of the people.
“Should the vote be in favour of same-sex marriage, as suggested by opinion polls, the church must accept that this is now part of the landscape,” the Australian primate states.
Dr Freier’s letter notes that the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer – that marriage is between a man and a woman “under God” – would remain unchanged.
“I do not believe the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage,” he writes.
“But … the church also understands the desire of two people to express their commitment of love and self-sacrifice and Christians have not always shown the respect or perspective they should.”
The head of the Anglican church in Australia has said it “must accept” a change in the civil definition of marriage if the plebiscite approves marriage equality, but it is unlikely the church’s doctrine will change.
In a letter to the nation’s Anglican bishops, the Melbourne archbishop Philip Freier also threw his weight behind a plebiscite, saying the government had a mandate for the policy and it would make the social reform easier to accept.
On Friday, Freier wrote that he personally “welcomes the plebiscite, though with strong reservations that we must guard the tenor of the debate, and keep it positive”.
The full text of the letter written by Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne to his fellow Australian bishops is published here: Conscience rules on marriage.50 Comments
The Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Roger Herft is preaching at Southwark Cathedral on Saturday 13 September at the Anglican Catholic Future national festival Life Abundant.
Here is a talk he gave in July to the Diocese of Melbourne ministry conference, entitled Chutney and Chow mein – making disciples in a multicultural Australia. There is much food for thought here for Anglicans in other countries, including the Church of England.
(Other materials from that conference can be found here.)3 Comments
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 recognition12 Comments
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.9 Comments
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.52 Comments
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.15 Comments
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 2010.27 Comments