@petercarrell agreement was never the intention. Allowing space for others to move was the plan.— Helen Jacobi (@RevHelenJacobi) May 11, 2016
That is, I agree that we need to find "space" in our church for freedom to move forward on the matter of blessing of same-sex relationships. I also agree that Motion 30 and then A Way Forward (AWF) were intended to find that set of spaces for Anglicans to be Anglican, conservatively to not bless and progressively to bless. But AWF was flawed. It would appear that #gsthw16 this week has accepted (however reluctantly by many members of the Synod and of our church) that A Better Way Forward needs to be found. We have given ourselves two years to do this.
What was the stumbling block at #gsthw16?
My mind hones in on this part of the (now expanded from initial posted) Taonga report from yesterday (my highlights):
"Ruth Wildbore (Christchurch) spoke in support of motion 29 as a conservative Anglican.“We are grateful for the time we now have to put structures in place,” she said.
“And we are grateful that you didn’t put us in a position where we felt we had to leave this General Synod.”
Archdeacon Tim Mora (Nelson) had also opposed the recommendations in ‘A Way Forward.’“For conservatives the ‘A Way Forward’ report left us feeling unprotected in our theological position,” he said.
“The new working group needs to constantly come back to the conservatives, to be sure that the recommendations are acceptable to them, before they bring it back to the next General Synod.
“It is important that the working group is prepared to explore all the options, including the ones presented by the Ma Whea Commission.
“But there is a definite will from the conservatives to look for a way that will protect our integrity and allow us to stay together.”"
The sense here is that among the conservatives at #gsthw16 there is a will to find a way, but it is not the way of A Way Forward. That way, it would also appear, will involve "something" by way of "structures" which "protect". Since the AWF offered a "diocese by diocese" choice as a "structure" intended to "protect", as well as clear statement that no cleric would be forced to conduct blessings as a further "protection," we can deduce that these two aspects were roundly rejected as offering insufficient "protection." A particular flaw, in my view, of AWF was proposing services of blessing which were to be formularies, because formularies state the agreed beliefs of our church: how could we be two integrities if there is one integrity re the formularies involved?
To put this in another way, our search is for a church of two spaces (a.k.a. "integrities"),
- one space in which it is possible to bless same sex partnerships and
- one space in which it is possible not to bless same sex partnerships and possible not to assent to such blessings as part of the required beliefs of our church.
I see on social media people bewailing the time this is taking. I rejoice that we have not made a mistake and that we have given ourselves time to find the spaces we require if we are to stay together.
UPDATE: But for a contrary view of this decision (H/T Ron Smith), read now Bishop Kelvin Wright's (Dunedin) blogpost at Available Light.
UPDATE 2: I find it odd that people are perturbed that GS did not make a decision. My guess (because of lack of reports) is that GS also didn't make a decision about the interchangeability of Anglican and Methodist orders and about Confirmation becoming "Affirmation." Why would that be? Because the proposals were not up to scratch. Thus I also find it odd that people are annoyed at conservatives in ACANZP for "causing" this situation re tabling the same sex blessing motion. Why not be annoyed at the working group for bringing a proposal which was not up to scratch?
But here is the thing, the indecision is real progress in this sense at least: the ball is now in the conservatives' court. They/we must put up a proposal which is a way forward AND is acceptable to conservatives ...or leave. There can be no passivity on the part of conservatives over the next two years, waiting to see what happens, crossing fingers and hoping it all goes a way. The majority of the GS (two tikanga out of three) want our church to be able to bless same-sex partnerships. Conservatives on blessings cannot think ACANZP will not permit blessing of same-sex partnerships, they/we must think about the circumstances of that permission which we can abide by.
UPDATE 3: Fascinating, erudite, and long article by Oliver O'Donovan on the situation in the Scottish Episcopal Church as it moves towards doctrinally genderless marriage. Pearls of wisdom about the use (and abuse) of Scripture, tradition and reason!
This, relative to our own church's dilemma and its resolution is crucial:
"To make a case for same-sex marriage on the basis of Scripture, Tradition and Reason sounds like squaring the circle, since by any account it is a highly untraditional practice. To find a place for it, on the other hand, is a task to which various possible approaches may spring to mind. When we study what the Committee made of its task, we are likely to feel that the damage it threatens to the church’s catholic identity is the result of trying to answer the question in its more demanding, rather than its less demanding form."
UPDATE 4: Heartfelt article here by Mark Henrickson (co-author with Peter Lineham of a pre-GS article published via ADU). I don't want to be part of a church perceived to be hateful by homosexuals and I don't want to be part of a church which must vote for equal marriage to be satisfactory to homosexuals. I want to be part of a loving church which discerns what the Spirit is saying to the church!