Saturday, May 21, 2016

Progress and regress at #gsthw16 ?

With thanks to Taonga for publishing reports on the progress and regress of various issues expressed in decisions at #gsthw16, we can note here the following (for which I leave you to work out which is progress, which is regress, which might be a bit of both, and which might be standing still and treading water):

Concerted effort to lift the numbers of women involved in our higher committees and boards.

Proposal to recognise interchangeability of Methodist and Anglican orders (discussed here on ADU previously, with foreboding and questions): missed a major checkpoint, so returned for further work, thus unclear whether or not GS is of a mind to push forward on this or not.

Suspension of the canon on Social Justice Commission: an interesting report here. There seemed to be some tension at #gsthw16 between a possibility that the future of the SJC might be to research for and give advice to the archbishops as key social justice spokespersons for our church and the desirability of of local Anglican social justice initiatives having validity and respect within the life of our church.

Not an easy tension to resolve because the case is obvious for both the archbishops being well-resourced to speak truth to power as well as to speak on behalf of ACANZP and for local initiatives to speak up for (particularly) local matters of concern.

As for me and my house this coming week, well, one of us is involved in our annual Diocesan clergy conference ... and that almost certainly means little or, more likely, no blogging for a while ... I will try to post any comments.

Some papal imitator is leading Bible studies on the theme of Merciful Disciples (in the Year of Mercy, let the reader understand). I will try to wring out of him permission to publish the fruits of his hard-worn labours the following week.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Order or chaos?

Pending reports otherwise, possibly the least debated matter on the recent #gsthw16's agenda was the passing of motions to complete the process of authorising change to our constitution and canons to make possible the authorising of services by our bishops. (Technically, this formalises in a watertight legal way something the bishops have been doing in past decades in an as-it-turned-out less than legally watertight manner - not because they acted illegally but because GS thought it had provided the necessary legality).

Bosco Peters has a report and reflection here, and the following is a direct excerpt from his post.

"Until now, an authorised service in our Church was one that had gone through what is nicknamed the “twice-round” procedure (it required passing at GSTHW; then by a majority of dioceses and hui amorangi; followed by a 2/3 majority at a newly-elected GSTHW; and finally a year’s wait for anyone to make an appeal). Let me be crystal clear: That process of authorisation, with its checks and balances, is as of now no longer required. 
In spite of some diocesan reservations and dissent, this GSTHW2016 altered our Constitution to read: 
Authorised Services” includes (a) Formularies, (b) Experimental uses as authorised by the 1928 Act, and (c) other services authorised under Title G Canon XIV. 
It is the new addition of (c) that abandons the twice-round process. As of GSTHW2016, this Title G Canon XIV now includes the following:
[Tikanga Maori bishops and Tikanga Polynesia bishops may determine their own conditions, and in Tikanga Pakeha] Diocesan Bishops and other Bishops with episcopal jurisdiction within a Diocese in New Zealand may authorise forms of service to be produced and used in individual ministry units, after consultation with the Vestry or equivalent body, and in other particular areas of the Church’s work, upon such conditions as they may individually determine in each case, and in consultation with their Diocesan liturgical committees."

Further, that Canon provides a brake on what bishops may so authorise:

"Now, the only limitation on what may be authorised “locally” is that it “must not be inconsistent with the teachings of the Formularies.”"

Now let me straight up park an issue which Bosco tackles: via this new mechanism for authorising services, Bosco sees a pathway towards the blessing of same sex relationships. I see that pathway too, though I also see a pitfall or three. But I am not discussing that possibility here, having sworn off discussing YKW (You Know What) for a while. You can comment on that possibility on Bosco's site.

My interest in this post is on other matters of order or chaos in our life as a church as a result of this decision (which I voted against in our diocesan synod).


There are many occasions in which one-off liturgies will be composed that require no particular involvement of the bishop and diocesan liturgical committee because they comfortably fit current flexibility already provided for in our formularies, due to something we agreed in 2006, as also noted by Bosco Peters:

"2006 An Alternative Form for Ordering the Eucharist further extends options – the Eucharistic Prayer, now, may be one authorised anywhere in the Anglican Communion.A Form for Ordering A Service of the Word provides for a flexible framework for non-eucharistic services not covered by the two Forms for Ordering the Eucharist."

But there may be such occasions, or even services for regular occasions (think, a weekly Taize service or a monthly Celtic Communion) where the local vicar and parish worship committee feel they would like to be sure that what they wish to use meets the standard of a service "authorised" for use. It can be a challenge negotiating one's way through the liturgical maze - the intricacies of our liturgical rules and regs versus the subtleties of the latest Wild Goose liturgy and so forth.

The new legislation offers a pathway via the local bishop for this to be done for services which, likely, the whole church has no wish to come to an agreement on whether it constitutes or should constitute a "formulary". For these services we (the wider church) are happy that they are "not inconsistent with the teaching of the Formularies" and have no pressing to need to ensure that they are consistent with the teaching of the Formularies.

In this way we have great potential for liturgical order on the edges and margins of our life together. We can be liturgically diverse and relatively free as we explore special service for occasions or as we develop specific services for aspects of our life (e.g. Taize services to connect with youth), all within the limits of the constraint "not inconsistent with the teaching of the Formularies."

But there are challenges to consider.

This legislation (as Bosco Peters points out) places a considerable weight of theological authority, if not autonomy on the office of the diocesan bishop who becomes sole local judge of what is "not inconsistent with the teaching of the Formularies." (I say "local judge" because on any such matter there is always possibility of appeal to a higher doctrinal authority if the episcopal judgement is questioned).

Further, this legislation is another step away from the notion of "common worship" binding us together as one Anglican church. There is no constraint placed on the bishop and diocesan liturgical committee to only authorise a few new services but to otherwise insist on the use of Formularies. In theory a bishop could authorise a different service as submitted by each parish in the diocese!


Thus there is potential for liturgical chaos if a plethora of unique services are authorised across our thirteen episcopal units. But there is also potential for chaos of a different kind, or so it seems to me. That chaos is the possibility (as far as I can tell) that bishops might authorise alternative baptismal, confirmation and ordination services to those prescribed in our prayer book. Could we become a church in which we one day realise that this one's baptism might not quite have been done correctly and that one was ordained according to a rite which on close inspection appears to have overlooked elements regarded by other jurisdictions as vital to valid ordination?

Or, am I just a worry wart? Let a thousand variations reign, you might say!

What do you think?

Even if you don't follow the "technical" issues re legal validity of liturgies, you might have a view on whether our worship services should have greater commonality or the diversity in our worship services is just fine ...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Climate Change: It is getter hotter every day now!

#gsthw16 had quite a bit to say about Climate Change.Three articles were posted during the Synod, here, here, and here. There is no doubt that our church faces a special challenge because we include the Diocese of Polynesia, parts of which are being swamped by the rising moana.

But what are we to do?

In a recent conversation about what we might do as a Diocese, it has not been a challenge to think about things we might do - form action groups, form study groups, propose motions at synod - but it has been a challenge to think about things we might do which might effect more than a mindshift.

What might we do, for instance, which impacts on the politics of this country? In that conversation a helpful analogy was made to me re smoking. It is good that people do not smoke, that individuals make decisions not to buy cigarettes. But that has little effect re the smoke people are forced to inhale from smokers while a government refrains from passing social changing legislation like banning smoking on transport, in restaurants and bars, in school playgrounds and so forth. Yes, I am old enough to remember how ghastly bus and plane travel was in the days when smoking was allowed and even those in the (so-called) Non Smoking sections suffered from it!

Climate change action is helped when I or you bike to work or read more documents on a screen than on printed paper. Even better would be giving up on computers altogether!

But it is small beer, I am informed. Political action which led to (say) restrictions on vehicle travel, including plane travel would achieve much more.

Does anyone else reading here sense that sometime fairly soon the state of the planet will make our current efforts seem pathetic? And make concerted, joint political action as obvious as supporting Helen Clark's bid to be Sec-Gen of the UN?

It has been the warmest, latest, sunniest autumn we Kiwis have ever known ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In the end is liberalism not only on the side of history but makes for better history?

There is food for reconciling Christians' thought here, whatever we make of Obama's presidency, policies and, lately, prognostications.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Short author, title, book makes tall impact

I am noticing, wandering around the internet, a book making an impact, being spoken favourably of and generally well regard.

It is God is No Thing by Rupert Shortt (published by Hurst & Co).

Rupert Shortt is a British journalist and this thin book is a thick argument for the existence of God.

A helpful review is here.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Atheists and Apostates for Evensong!

The Melbourne Age acts as a lobby group for well funded Evensong! It even argues that atheists and apostates enjoy Evensong and should fund its balming properties.

Friday, May 13, 2016


The post below will be my last on same sex relationships for a long time to come ... I would like to post on Anglican-Methodist interchangeability of orders ... any news of that? Also looking forward to news of other motions and bills at #gsthw16 re liturgical matters. But I do see reports on Taonga re climate change. Now that is a BIG issue (he writes, while experiencing the warmest May ever), and will require some attention here! So, when I have time and some news of other things at #gsthw16, ADU will crack along in differing directions.

UPDATE: Apparently there is nothing much to report on re Interchangeability of Methodist-Anglican orders or on Confirmation becoming Affirmation because neither motion got very far, neither was confirmed, and each led to indication of "further work to be done." But the Bill was passed which enables our bishops to authorise services ... I won't give details till Bosco Peters updates us on this matter.