Last week I posted an idea by Edward Prebble on alternative episcopal arrangements for our church in the event of General Synod 20?? - noting that Christchurch will be pushing for a 2018 decision, not 2014 - agreeing to the blessing of same sex partnerships but on a dioceses may or may not proceed to do so (here). For the purposes of this post I am going to assume that 'blessings' rather than 'marriages' is as far as GS would go for the foreseeable future.
With our diocesan synod, a school reunion, an all day trip to Dunedin and back for a funeral and the usual 'etc' of the week, it is taking me a while to come back to this proposal (on which many comments have already been received). Today is Post Ordination Training so the best I can do in the few minutes available is post some preliminary thoughts.
(1) I agree with Edward that our GS, whenever it does make a decision, is very likely to make one in which episcopal units take up the possibility of formally, officially, and without fear of Title D recriminations when they choose, or not at all. As I understand the history of the ordination of women in our church, this is what happened. The Diocese of Nelson, whose then bishop, +Peter Sutton was at best hesitant re the ordination of women, did not ordain any women in his diocese until c. 1988, some ten years after women were being ordained elsewhere. The ordinations of the first Maori and Polynesian women were years after that (as far as I recall).
(2) I agree with Edward that such episcopal unit determinacy then opens up the question of what happens for (say) conservative parishes in the Diocese of Auckland (which is clearly signalling it would want to proceed with such blessings) or liberal parishes (are there any?) in the Diocese of Nelson (which is clearly signalling it would not proceed with such blessings). I suggest, whether or not Edward's specific proposal is meritorious, that consideration is given to some means of holding dioceses, divided in this way on this issue, together. I also suggest that our history over the ordination of women does not provide a precedent for doing so because at that time we received that decision in a reasonably united way and without great pressure for some kind of alternative episcopal arrangements.
(3) At this point things get harder. Particularly difficult questions concern property, episcopal philosophy (most bishops I know are keen on the idea that they are focoi of unity for their dioceses), synodical representation, ordination (and processes towards ordination), and diocesan 'taxation' (noting that alternative schemes of episcopacy cost money).
That is a good point to exit this post ...