In a world exclusive Anglican Down Under can breathlessly rush to its keyboard after last night's reportback from GS/HW meeting in Christchurch to reveal that ... Motion 30 means what it says.
In the light of many comments here in recent days (and elsewhere on some blogs I have been making comments on) which amount to "No matter what ACANZP thinks is going to happen, it will turn out like North America" it was good to hear some things being said by our Christchurch team which refute that claim.
What was underlined was a small and easily overlooked phrase in Motion 30, "process and structure." For refreshment, here is the context,
"(a) A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is contrary to scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law, will not be required to perform any liturgy for the blessing of same-gender relationships, will continue to have integrity within the Church, and will remain compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction;
(b) A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is consonant with scripture, doctrine, tikanga and civil law may perform a yet to be developed liturgy for blessing same-gender relationships in a manner which maintains their integrity within the Church, is compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction, and can remain in communion under scripture, doctrine and law"
What was both useful and helpful to hear last night was that the phrase "process and structure" carries with it the singular, determined intention of the Synod to find a way by which two opposing views re blessings are held in a 'structured' manner under the same ecclesiastical roof. It is not appropriate at this stage in the 'process' to start second-guessing what 'structure' will be commended to our church by the working group, but enough was said last night to indicate three things:
a. an openness on the part of GS/HW to radical creativity to arrive at a 'structure' in which two opposing views are held together;
b. a dogged determination to ensure that adherents of opposing views are 'safeguarded' by the new 'structure.'
c. an ambition to not end up in places that the North American churches have ended in, accompanied by a belief that we can avoid the pathways they have taken.
Obviously a commenter, especially one based in the heart of North American turmoil can say, in Kiwispeak, "Yeah, right!" (Translation: No). But our church has just a slightly good record in doing things differently ... for the historical record we might note Selwyn's determination, despite no English precedent, for a synodical governance which included a house of laity with right of veto, and then conjuring up a three tikanga church - three 'structures' which exist under one ecclesiastical roof.
What the working group needs to come up with is something a little different again, something for which (it would appear) no specific Anglican precedent currently exists, not even within our own church's history or present structuring.
Can I suggest two further things in the light of last night's meeting?
1. Keep praying: our reps are united in seeing the power of prayer at work in the 'process' the GS/HW went through to get to Motion 30 being passed unanimously. Let's keep praying for God to continue that good work among us.
2. Do not resign, hand in your licence, leave your parish church, walk out on your church family. Until we learn the actual recommendations of the working group about 'process and structure' - about a year from now - we do not know what our church is going to become in terms of being a 'safe' place for whatever views we hold on these matters. To make a decisive change now, whether as a licensed office-holder or parishioner, is to prejudge what the working group will propose (let alone whether we will synodically agree with the proposal).
Given the breadth of representation of all points of view at the Synod and their arriving together at a unanimous proposal at this stage in our history, it is simple trust in our brothers and sisters in Christ, and straightforward courtesy to wait patiently for the working group's report.