Don't worry, any GS/HW media minders reading here, no member has spilled the beans to me. But we can interpret the Taonga report (here) which tells us in broad terms about the discussions to date:
"General Synod continues wrestling with the questions about same-sex ordination and blessing.
But there are signs that the debate is drawing to a conclusion.
A nine-person working party is working on a draft proposal, which will be brought before the whole synod to consider tomorrow, with a vote to follow.
Synod again spent this morning’s second session chewing over the options raised by the Ma Whea? Commission, and it returned to them again before afternoon tea.
Much of the time devoted to the issues today was spent caucusing in houses, which met in closed committee.
Shortly before afternoon tea synod reconvened in plenary session to ask a nine-person working group – comprising three members from the houses of bishops, clergy and laity – to finetune a proposal. Because that draft proposal has been considered by synod ‘in committee’ it cannot, at this stage, be reported."
Here is the deduced news from this item:
- Option A (status quo) is not going to happen. GS/HW would not appoint a nine member working party to draft legislation to make no change.
- In the midst of proceedings such a substantial working party would not be appointed if there was not an emerging 'mind of synod' that a particular direction or set of directions would be agreeable when finally put to the vote. As the report says, this body is fine tuning a proposal emerging from the body of the Synod. It is not inventing a new idea.
- Thus change is coming (but we don't know when - the legislation might propose something that goes back to the dioceses and hui amorangi for further consideration).
- There will be safeguards for those who disagree with the change(s). Again, a nine member working party (almost certainly three from each tikanga) is of a size to ensure that conservative voices are included among those shaping the legislation. Besides which, an emerging direction for GS/HW at this juncture in our life, given the respectful conversations occurring, is very, very unlikely to include some kind of 'nuclear' or church splitting option or options.
What we cannot deduce however is how wide-reaching the proposals might be.
In other news from General Synod/te Hinota Whanui - there is quite a lot now on the Taonga site - it seems that sensible people meeting in a sensible way can reach common sense conclusions. Thus it is a joy to read that the motions concerning reduction of our three tikanga life to two tikanga have been withdrawn. It is very sensible to read that future GS/HWs are likely to include pre-synod meetings between Maori and Pakeha.
Back to the Ma Whea? deliberations: I am very impressed by the extent of meetings within the meeting of GS/HW: to meet by tikanga, by houses, by dioceses is as deep and wide a consultative discussion can go at GS/HW. At the very least this allows every member of the Synod to speak, not just those with the gumption to speak to the plenary sessions. We should presume that the legislation which emerges represents some kind of middle way through all the voices being heard in all those meetings.
That does not mean we will all be happy with the result but it should mean that when we finally learn the actual news of what has been agreed, we will have a decision which we can respectfully engage with and not one we can dismiss as some kind of whim borne along by goodness knows what spirit of fervour for change.