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Motion 7 Update: Post Synod

Motion 7: What's next?

Grace and peace to you,

At General Synod Te Hīnota Whānui earlier this year, a motion was passed about how each Bishop or Pīhopa may proceed to safeguard their integrity as well as the integrity of the priest and ministry unit when same-gendered couples who are in a civil union or civil marriage approach them seeking a blessing. This is commonly referred to as “Motion 7”.

This motion and the associated legislation:

  • Agreed that the decision to allow an individual priest to offer a blessing of a civil union or civil marriage would not rest with General Synod but with an individual diocesan bishop. This recognised that the primary unit of the Anglican Church is the Diocese not the General Synod and that this was a matter which should be worked out locally in and through the relationship between a bishop and that bishop’s clergy and people;
  • Provided for a new declaration, to be signed by office holders (lay and ordained), who would no longer have to assent to the General Synod itself and its decisions, but to the Constitution and Canons (the rules) of the Church;
  • Determined that—apart from the above change to the declarations—the only other change to the Canons is one which guarantees the integrity of Anglicans who either approve or disapprove of such blessings. It achieves this by making it clear that however individuals exercise their conscience, they cannot be subject to any disciplinary action. This also provides protection from any civil action (for example under Human Rights legislation) against an individual priest who does not agree with blessings.

At our Waikato and Taranaki Diocesan Synod (Sep 28-30) a presentation was delivered to all present that briefly outlined how the Anglican Church had reached this decision; described the assorted legislative effects; and outlined a roadshow available to all ministry units. The purpose of such a roadshow is to provide insight to the Bishop (by way of feedback) as he approaches any decisions he is obliged to make arising from Motion 7.

It is important to emphasise that no one has to change their position in relation to blessing civilly-ordered same-gendered relationships and furthermore, the beliefs of individuals and ministry units are safeguarded and need not alter. 

At this time Bishop Philip has not made any decisions about whether to authorise any applications to bless a civilly-ordered same-gender relationship. This is because he wishes to better understand where his Ministry Units locate themselves on this issue. Furthermore, it is important to note that the Bishop is not seeking to re-visit the theology but rather hear the voice of the ministry units.

A roadshow/presentation will soon be available to any ministry unit that wishes to contribute to this process. This presentation is flexible and will offer:

-        A short history of the Anglican Church’s 50-year exploration of issues of sexuality;

-        An overview of the legislation passed at General Synod (including written and recorded experiences of our General Synod Representatives’ experience of Motion 7);

-        The effect of such legislation;

-        A resource booklet;

-        A confidential spectrum exercise (miniature survey) which will be used to reflect participants’ views on this matter in a more nuanced way than a ‘yes – no’ straw poll; and

-        A multi-media facilitated discussion on issues of sexual identity will also be available.

In addition to this, it was acknowledged that some additional work needed to be done to understand the effect of this legislation for Co-operating Parishes and also how this impacts on Chaplains in a variety of related or independent entities such as Hospitals, Tertiary institutes and Schools.

If you have any questions regarding this process or wish to invite the Diocesan Team to meet with your ministry unit please contact bishopspa@wtanglican.nz.

______________________________

The Diocesan Team consists of:

Ven Stephen Black

Ms Imogene Burgess

Mr Haydn Burke

Rev Sue Burns

Prof Sue Court

Ven Malcolm French

Ven Joyce Marcon

Story Published: 5th of October - 2018

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