The clock is running down for Western churches. It is certainly running down for ACANZP. Less than one year to go now till our next General Synod.
What are we going to do about same sex partnerships, including same sex marriages now made possible by civic authorities in some countries?
I suggest the solution showing signs of emerging is one in which we agree to live with our (severe) disagreement and diversity on the matter. When no side is budging there is an option which is not schism. That option is living with difference.
It is not rocket science to see that the CofE is heading that way (analogous to how it is holding itself together over women bishops).
Now the Church of Scotland has charted this way forward with a 309 to 183 vote:
"A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said that the current stance meant that the Church had adopted a position which "maintains a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman, but allows individual congregations to 'opt out' if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same sex civil partnership."
The Telegraph reports that the Scottish think this might be a way forward for the English,
"The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”"
Could ACANZP do something like that?
Oh, you might say, but we need to press for the 'truth' to win. I agree but I find there are two different versions of what is 'true' about same sex marriage and they are pushing together like two scrums with no signs of one buckling and the referee is getting impatient for the ball to come out.
And the different scrums are composed of friends of mine. I would like to not ditch one set of friends for another.
Reading about the current moment in the CofE approach, concerning facilitated conversations, I note these two reports, by Jeremy Pemberton and Richard Coles.
I don't imagine that a similar conversation in our church would yield a different set of reports from two blokes committed to changing the status quo. They are not going to buckle. The conservatives who took part in the conversation are not buckling. We can be sure the conservatives who did not turn up are not buckling either.
But here is the thing: everyone wants to remain in the Anglican church.
Both scrums want to remain on the same field playing rugby union. No one wants to opt for rugby league!
I do not see how we are going to remain in the one church unless we can find a way forward something like the Scottish proposal for the Presbyterians.
It wouldn't take that much humility for Anglicans to learn something from Presbyterians. Would it?