Here are the thoughts of an eminent bush lawyer and QC (Quite Capable)!
1. The Act defines the powers of the General Synod, on the one hand affirming by civil law a presumption of a church no longer an established church of England and Ireland that it may make decisions about Formularies and about versions of the Bible which are authorised for use and on the other hand limiting those powers which may not be exercised in contradiction of clause 1 of the constitution. Thus we read:
Power to alter Formularies for use in any part of the Province"
2. The Act sets out in a Schedule what is also in the constitution, the key determination of what constitute the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, clause 1:
"The fundamental provisions of the Constitution of the Church
3. The Act does not state a modification post the 1989 publication of A New Zealand Prayer Book conveyed within the revised constitution of 1990/1992 which reads:
Subject to the provisions of the Church of England Empowering Act, 1928 and to the Fundamental Provisions-
1. This Church holds and maintains the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ as the Lord has commanded in Holy Scripture and as explained in
The Book of Common Prayer 1662
The Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating Bishops, Priests and Deacons
The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion
A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa."
Here the church has added A New Zealand Prayer Book as an additional aid in understanding the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ, albeit subject to the Fundamental Provisions. However, because the publication of this prayer book as agreed via General Synod's proper and legal process failed to generate a legal challenge (i.e. failed to generate a successful challenge to its status as a formulary in respect of the Fundamental Provisions) it effectively has the status of the Book of Common Prayer etc.
4. Thus for our church to proceed with blessings of same sex partnerships it will need to make some decisions, according to recommendations of the working group set up by our recent General Synod. Here are probable decisions to be made:
A. To promulgate a formulary or not as the vehicle for such blessings
B. (Depending on A) To promulgate a formulary which is in accord with the doctrine and sacraments of Christ as this church understands them. The standard here is very high (cf. some comments being made on this blog by Ron and Gail Young re application of the Thirty Nine Articles, including the Homilies approved by the Articles). Essentially such a formulary would need to not contradict Holy Scripture nor to make change to our doctrine of marriage.
C. (Depending on B and any assessment of whether a proposed formulary could meet the standards of the current constitution) To restructure our church into two parts, one whose constitution maintains the Fundamental Provisions (because they are unalterable, according to our constitution) and one which has a different constitution. But here is the kicker ...
The part which operated according to a new constitution could not have access to the funds entrusted to the part sticking with the current constitution.
Or, is this opinion wrong?
In which case I want my money back ... that bush lawyer's fees are QH (Quite High).