At last and in plenty of time for our diocesan synods in a month or two's time, we have the interim report and recommendations from the GS Working Group.
Read the Taonga article here, follow the links, and, obviously, read the full PDF document here. (There is a shorter version here but the details in the appendices are what count).
My verdict: a beautiful Anglican accommodation.
It gives (many) conservatives and (many) liberals what they have asked for, and makes few demands on the middle of our church.
I do not want to have to submit to the authority of General Synod (because it has approved something I am not happy with)?
I will not have to do that because the declarations will change.
I wish the blessing of a same sex partnership to be able to take place in an Anglican church?
In most, but likely not all, dioceses/hui amorangi permission will be given for priests to conduct such blessings provided the local vestry is agreeable to that happening.
I feel I would have to leave the church if it approved a blessing formulary (because that would mean our church had formally changed its doctrine on marriage). There will not be such a change. Services of blessing will be approved at a more local level - the diocese.
I am worried that I will be disciplined by the church if I conduct a blessing or if I refuse to conduct a blessing. That will be ruled out, both ways.
I am concerned that my parish, when it comes time to choose a new vicar, will be bullied by the Nomination Board into accepting a priest who will reverse my parish's policy on blessing of same sex partnerships. That can be prevented because parishes and individuals will be able to form communities of common accord with other like-minded parishes. Bishops must respect the ethos of those communities in making their appointment, indeed the appointee must come from within the community to which the parish belongs.
I do not particularly care one way or another whether my vicar does or does not conduct blessings of same sex partnerships. Nothing needs to be done. Keep cool and carry on as you are!
I want to be part of a parish which not only teaches celibacy outside of (heterosexual) marriage but which supports those who choose to be celibate and look for the support of their community of faith in being obedient to God in this way. That is not only possible, it is specifically provided for by the proposal: like-minded parishes including common commitment to teaching and discipline may group together in structured communities of faith, supported by a bishop.
Thus in a number of ways this is a beautiful, comprehensive Anglican accommodation of the wide range of views on human sexuality held within ACANZP.
To be very clear: a beautiful Anglican accommodation does not mean that everyone is going to be, let alone has to be happy about what is proposed. There will be disappointment for some.
My argument here is that in a tricky, challenging situation in which we are not agreed, we have a proposal which has a quality of elegance to it, which demonstrates deep listening to speeches at the last General Synod and to submissions made to the Working Group, and, critically, a will to make some significant changes to the way we do things.
And all with a view to holding us together.
I hope this means no one leaves.
But if some do, I believe the losses will be few rather than many.
- for the geeks among readers, this is what I posted re the submission I made to the working group. You will see that a number of things I was keen to see are included in the report/recommendations. (That, incidentally, is not a claim that I had some great influence on the report. Once we failed to secure agreement at GS 2016 there was a logical path to where we needed to go as a church in disagreement, which influenced my submission and, I am sure, directly influenced the working group.)
- Also, Bosco Peters has a considered response here.