Monday, September 30, 2013

Come back Ottomans?

A bit of a Monday morning round up ...

As we reel from news of atrocities committed in the name of extreme Islam, this article is a useful reminder that there is a way to develop the application of sharia law which takes account of modern life rather forces modern life to conform to life as it was some 1400 years ago. Although not without its own cruelties and militarism, the Ottoman Empire "for centuries, .. peaceably ruled much of the civilised world".

Speaking of the Ottoman Empire, and as a reminder of its dominance over Christianity, it happens that Bosco Peters has posted this morning on a Stylite quest to reconstruct a chapel and house on top a pillar of rock in Georgia. It had previously been used by a Stylite "until the Ottoman Empire invaded Georgia in the 15th century."

Whether we like it or not, extreme Islam is a phenomenon in the history of religions of humankind. That history continues to take its twists and turns, including the rise and fall (and rise) of human allegiances to religions, and to specific convictions within those religions. Thus today we can jump from Georgia to Scotland to reflect on their census figures re religion, posted by Thinking Anglicans here. Protestants might reflect on the statistical stability of the Roman Catholic church. For Anglicans there is an interesting twist to the figures. Meanwhile in NZ we await publication of our 2013 census figures ...

It is not unknown on this site for the faithful adherence of Episcopalians to their prayerbooks to be observed, sometimes in conjunction with observations about Kiwi Anglicans somewhat 'loose' approaches to using our prayerbooks. Thus a post by Bishop Dan Martins, via Creedal Christian, caught my eye in respect of its liturgical observations of no less than a TEC House of Bishops' meeting. Creedal Christian's post carries the provocative title "Cognitive Dissonance and Liturgical Innovation in the House of Bishops."

But the Creedal Christian re-publication of +Dan's thoughts highlights something else, which also connects with the history of religions unfolding before our eyes through these weeks, the current mission of Pope Francis. Where is Pope Francis leading his church? He is saying things which progressive Episcopalians find congenial, yet he has actually done nothing to change the conservative doctrine of the Roman church.

Bishop Dan makes an astute and poignant observation:

" I find him a remarkable man, and am both humbled and inspired by his ministry. He is frighteningly Christ-like. But I also happen to agree with most of his positions on controverted issues. 

And here's the deal: He isn't proposing any changes in either the theological or moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. None. 

If I were a supporter of same-sex marriage, or abortion rights, I could find nothing in the Pope's statements that would lead me to hope that a change in church teaching in these areas is imminent. So why the sudden triumph of style over substance? I not only agree with his views, I also agree with the need he has expressed to change rhetoric and reassess priorities. 

But many of the same voices that are raised in adulation of the Bishop of Rome still see Episcopalians who share his views as outliers, and benignly and charitably (more or less) consign us to the margins of TEC. Just sayin'."

I think the Ottomans and Pope Francis would get along fine. They understand the need to connect the doctrinal rock of faith with the pastoral fluidity of the world in which we live today.

(Added Tuesday) Time magazine weighs in on the Pope as a radical traditionalist:

"even if the teachings that put a kick me sign on the church could be changed by fiat, it would be self-defeating to do so. The mainline Protestant churches have all tried just that--throwing out the unwanted baby of the traditional moral code with the theological bathwater. Yet they're still drowning. Over the centuries, people have found plenty to complain about in the church's bans on abortion, contraception and extramarital sex. But that fact doesn't undermine the code's internal consistency--or its appeal to those who have found in it a tough but beautiful truth."

Too return to Islam, Cranmer poses an important question in this post. How can a religion of peace inflict brutality on its own members? Ditto, read this Telegraph post asking why we cannot call murder murder and terrorism terrorism?

Let the final word be with the Word of God, this time in the reflective hands of Fr Jonathan, as part of Anglicans keeping holy writ.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

One direction for God

I heard a quote from Bonhoeffer the other night I had never heard before. A response to suggestions he join the 'German Christians':

"If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction."

One can think of directions Anglicans want to go in and make the same response ...

Friday, September 27, 2013

You won't read much this year that's better written than this

Warning: if you are grieving it might be best to leave reading this biographical essay by Walter Russell Mead a while.

If at first you do not succeed

I am very glad for Bishop David Rice, Bishop of Waiapu here, that he has been appointed Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in California.

Earlier this year he was a publicly named candidate for election to another TEC diocese and that was a signal to his diocese that he felt it was time to move on. Now he will move on and the diocese can work on securing the certainties it needs for its future direction with the election of a new bishop.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What is God up to?

Addition: pointed and poignant article here in the Telegraph.

Quite a bit of gloomy news this week, with disturbing terrorist attacks on Christians, a devastating earthquake in Pakistan, and NZ in danger of mass hysteria, probably leading to depression rather than manic celebration.

But all is not doomed.

Thinking Anglicans reports the election of a woman to be a bishop in the Church of South India.

Out of Egypt comes a strong conviction that Egypt Will Not Implode. Ramez Atallah, General Director of the Bible Society of Egypt argues that,

"Egypt is not on the verge of civil war! On the contrary, most Egyptian Muslims and Christians are more united than ever in their common vision for the future, as together they have rejected extremist “Political Islam,” and are working towards the noble task of establishing a civil society which recognizes all Egyptians as equal citizens."

The God of Jesus Christ is up to good work in the world!

Of course not everyone believes that God exists. For a nifty argument that the lack of scientific evidence for God's existence is no reason to be an atheist head to NZ blog M & M which offers a lovely argument cunningly titled There are probably no duties. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life here. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I wish Reform Ireland would tell us what they really think

A woman, the Reverend Pat Storey, has been elected bishop in the Church of Ireland, for the Diocese of Meath and Kildare. Naturally this is always a possibility if one has canons permitting such elections. Logically the time to protest and then to shut up is when such canons are being considered. Charitably the election of any bishop is a time to express prayerful support that the appointee might be well-prepared to take up this important office.

Sadly, I suggest, Reform Ireland is in no mood for acting either logically or charitably. Here is their press release (more accurately, their press blast, H/T Thinking Anglicans):

"The Church of Ireland, in common with the Anglican Communion worldwide, has always prized doing things ‘decently and in order’ (1Corinthians 14:40). With the appointment of the first woman bishop in Britain and Ireland, it has furthered the disorder in God’s church that it originally initiated with the decision to appoint women as presbyters and bishops by an act of Synod in 1990.

God’s order for the family and for his church is male headship, a loving, Christ-like, self-sacrificing leadership for the purpose of leading others into maturity and fellowship in Christ. This ordering, initiated by God at the creation of man and woman, is not based upon or designed to produce any inferiority or inequality of woman to man. Rather, it is based upon the very nature and purpose of relationships within the Trinity itself.

As God’s Word makes clear, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are co-equal persons of the eternal Trinity, ‘One God world without end.’ Yet, the Son is eternally submissive to the Father (1Cor.11:3), who is described as his ‘head’, and similarly the Holy Spirit’s role in the economy of God is to serve the Father and the Son. Such headship of the Father does not imply the inferiority of the Son or the Spirit. Rather, the submissiveness of the Son within the Trinity is for the purpose of a perfect loving fellowship where there is mutual glorification of the other.

In 1 Corinthians 11, the NT teaches that the principle of male headship in the family and the church is modelled upon the relationship of the Father and the Son. Male and female are equal in status (Galatians 3:28) but woman is called to be submissive to God’s design for male headship in the church. This voluntary acceptance by a co-equal of her role in the church is her Christ-like service of God, and like Christ does not imply any inferiority or inequality. On the contrary, like the voluntary submissive relationships within the Trinity, the purpose of the woman and the man in playing such complimentary roles is for the purpose of mutual glorification of the other in Christ.

This complementarian approach is creational, biblical and crucial for our sanctification in Christ. To ignore God’s design for man and woman is to bring disharmony and disorder into Christ’s body. The Church of Ireland, by its recent appointment of a woman to be Bishop, has not only brought more disharmony and disorder into God’s church, but it has also side-lined Christ in his own church. If God’s Word does not rule his body, the church, then Christ is a mere figure-head and not the captain of his people.

By ignoring God’s equality agenda and role for man and woman and substituting it with a ‘spirit-of-the-age’ equality agenda, the Church of Ireland has in effect discriminated against those who hold to a biblical position. This decision will not only prevent those who believe in God’s agenda for man and woman being able to serve in Meath diocese, but also impair fellowship throughout the Church of Ireland. The appointment to Meath is therefore a sad day for many in the Church of Ireland because it is one more indication that the Church of Ireland is no longer listening to God’s purposes for his church.
23th Sep 2013"

What is wrong with this statement? Let me count some of the ways.

1. It is absolutist about the consequence choosing women both as presbyters and bishops: the church is brought into 'disharmony and disorder'. The position of Reform Ireland is both that this is so and that there is no other view. However a disordered church (fullstop, tout simple) is no church to belong to. The statement begs the question why Reform Ireland exists within the disordered Church of Ireland. The disordered Church of Ireland has been so since 1990: why has Reform Ireland remained part of such a church? There is an alternative approach, namely that a variety of views exist within the Church of Ireland about the ordering of ministry and thus the ordered and disordered state of the church. Reform Ireland could have taken the opportunity to remind the church that this variety of views co-exists within the church without blasting the church, dioceses and Pat Storey with the above denial of the possibility of her ministry being ordered.

2. It states as an accomplished theological fact that the idea of male headship of family and church is "based upon the very nature and purpose of relationships within the Trinity itself." This is misleading. The idea of male headship of family and church is based on some passages in Scripture. Some theologians argue that it is also based on the very nature and purpose of relationships within the Trinity itself but this is much controverted (e.g. in the writings of Australian theologian Kevin Giles) particularly on the matter of whether the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father, to say nothing of the matter of whether such subordination within the Godhead is directly applicable to relationship between husband and wife. (1 Corinthians 11:3, 'the head of Christ is God' is potentially a reading in this direction but not definitively as this is not 'Father-Son' language).

3. It makes a declaratory judgment that the Church of Ireland has permitted women presbyters and bishops because of "a ‘spirit-of-the-age’ equality agenda." Is this true? Many people support women in all orders of Anglican ministry for reasons other than an 'equality agenda', let alone one driven by the 'spirit-of-the-age'. For example, we support the ordination of women because we recognise spiritual gifts of ministry leadership within women which we also see in men (as we believe the NT church also did) and/or because we understand the ordained ministry of the church to be the ministry of Christ expressed through those called from among those who are 'in Christ', men and women both being equally and fully 'in Christ.' But the Reform Ireland allows no recognition that it belongs to a church which is not enslaved to the spirit-of-the-age.

4.  It makes a definitive statement about the future which is not underpinned by reality elsewhere in the Anglican Communion: "This decision will not only prevent those who believe in God’s agenda for man and woman being able to serve in Meath diocese, but also impair fellowship throughout the Church of Ireland." Well, there is a diocese not far from where I write, actually right where I write, in which it is simply not true that people holding to a complementarian view of headship cannot 'serve' in a diocese with a woman bishop. And I write from within a church with one and soon to be two women bishops in which fellowship throughout the whole of our church is not 'impaired.'

A note to readers: I have no wish to 'relitigate' the question of women being ordained presbyters and bishops, nor do I wish to argue (or to be misunderstood as arguing) that there is no place in 21st century Anglicanism for those who in good biblical conscience do not support the ordination of presbyters and bishops (there is such a place). But women in the life of the Church of Ireland, and in the Anglican Communion deserve better than the statement issued by Reform Ireland.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crisis in global Christianity

There is an urgent crisis for Christians in a great sweep of countries across the middle of the earth. None can feel safe in many countries and especially not in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Pakistan (also here). The terrorist rampage in the Westgate Mall in Kenya may have targeted 'non-Muslims' rather than Christians specifically, but that grievous action will ripple through the extensive Christian community in that country.

Violence is not intrinsic to the way of life lived by the vast majority of Muslims, but violence, both against fellow Muslims and against Christians, is intrinsic to the terrorism which seeks to impose one or more forms of a rigorously pure Islam.

Readers of Western blogs such as this one will mostly live far from the threat of terror. We can discuss our issues in freedom and peace. Meanwhile our brothers and sisters in Christ face issues of a different kind and lack our freedom and peace with which to contemplate resolution. Stay and face death by terrorism? Leave for a safer country and concomitantly shrink the church of their homeland?

If we take ecclesiology seriously then the massacres of Christians in Syria and the bombing of Christians in Peshawar are the amputations of members of the one body of Christ. The crisis for Christians in countries threatened by terrorism is a crisis for global Christianity.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Freeing Paul from enslavement to scholarly dictates

N. T. Wright's next blockbuster in his great series on the New Testament is about to come out. Called Paul and the Faithfulness of God, we can read the first chapter for free here. It is vintage Wright, taking an unusual starting point, Paul's letter to Philemon, and bulldozing down all arguments standing in the way of the truth about Paul. It is a persuasive bulldozer! (H/T Euangelion). Contents here. Preface here.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Shrewd Pope Shatters Stereotypes

Great and far reaching in its implications interview with Francis 1 here. [Added: for a 'quick take' go to these 12 points here].

Many money quotes.

Here are just two:

"“Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. 

The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”"


"Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. 

We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. 

The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."

This is a remarkable Pope ... but is he trying to have his doctrinal cake and with pastoral icing and eat it too?

I am in meetings today until late tonight and may not be able to post comments till then.

Saturday morning addition. I like this statement about the church ... "not a small chapel" :)

"This church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal church to a nest protecting our mediocrity."

In Andrew Brown's take on the interview, Francis 1 (or should that be, looking at the alternative on the "1" key, Francis !) has demolished modern Catholic conservatism in a single interview. Brown points us to consider that in the space of a few months he has walked back Benedict 16's view that civilization peaked about seven hundred years ago and asserted the importance of engaging with the present by thinking about the future rather than with restorationist nostalgia.

I am not convinced that we are not a civilization embracing a culture of death (pace B16) but I concur with Brown/Francis 1 that the future of Christianity does not lie in reconstituting the past glories of the church.

POSTSCRIPT: for those who see in Francis a kind of 21st century liberal Anglican, think again!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shrewd Bishop Shatters Stereotypes

I am not sure why the word 'upset' is in this article. Everyone seems very pleased with the decision made at the election. But the result continues to speak out, he is an Amos for our day ... here.

Saturday Update: interesting tie between minimum and living wages here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shrewd Sermon Shatters Stereotypes?

This Sunday is a 'fun' Sunday for preachers. The gospel is Luke 16:1-13. The parable at the core of the reading, 16:1-8a (or 8b or ...) is (IMHO) extremely challenging. With a view to assisting preachers (including myself) I have penned a few thoughts, actually quite a few thoughts at my Resourcing Preaching and Worship Down Under site, here.

But here we might reflect on the challenges the reading brings to how we understand the gospels, their composition and their relationship to the actual Jesus of everyday experience of his followers, let alone to the elusive 'historical Jesus.'

The parable, let's remind ourselves, is difficult at least because it presents a central character, the steward, who acts in a worldly if not cynical way, in order to secure a future for himself in the face of a personal crisis. From that response to a personal economic crisis some kind of analogy is drawn to the hearers of Jesus and their (now, our) personal spiritual crisis in the face of the proclaimed kingdom. When much of theology has weighed in the balance approaches to that crisis in terms of 'faith' versus 'works', the steward stands out as someone who appears to exemplify neither faith nor works in sorting out his personal dilemma!

All of which lends a certain authenticity to this parable as a story told by 'the actual Jesus', a story Luke receives and, unlike other canonical gospel writers, determines to include rather than avoid in his gospel. Why include such a difficult story unless convicted that this was genuine Jesus' material and thus room in the gospel inn ought to be found for it?

That the story is difficult, even for Luke (if not for Jesus) is underlined by the ending(s) given to the parable in verses 8b-9:

"for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.

And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes."

Each comment connects with the parable, 'shrewd' in the first comment, 'dishonest wealth' and 'homes' in the second comment.

But neither comment connects easily with the norms concerning entry into the kingdom of God. The first comment raises the question whether 'children of light' refers to those in the kingdom, or to Israel outside of the kingdom, as well as the question why shrewdness in dealing with 'their own generation' is a commendable value concerning the kingdom rather than (say) shrewdness in dealing with God. The second comment raises the question why friends made through dishonest wealth could be a key to securing welcome into eternal homes: surely making friends with God would be more useful!

Again, the possibility is that Luke receives these comments as authentic Jesus' material (and thus refrains from editing it) but that raises in turn the question whether Jesus himself (or the developing tradition as the parable was handed on) struggled to make sense of the parable and thus offered two commentaries on its application to kingdom life. Presumably Luke does not edit the comments to (say) emphasise faith, or the winning of God's favour, because he is satisfied that their paradoxical character is evident to his readers. Of course shrewd use of dishonest wealth to gain entry to the eternal kingdom is not being commended. As if! What is commended here is bold decision-making in the face of the crisis of God's judgment.

But to write like this as a reader of Luke 16 is nevertheless to engage in a certain amount of 'rescuing' of Luke through attempting to clarify what is otherwise obscure and puzzling.

That Luke is straining to work through his material in some kind of coherent manner is illustrated through the remaining verses of the passage, vss. 10-13. These verses are linked to the parable by virtue of common interest in wealth. But the link is strained. The parable is not in its main message about faithfulness in the use of wealth, nor about the use of what belongs to another, nor about serving two masters. Thus Luke draws to this parable material placed in other contexts by Matthew. As an aside, we thus see at work Luke's compositional strategy which is often marked by linked ideas, even though the resulting combination has a clumsy feel to its overall composition.

I must close. Back to the parable and its initial commentary, verses 1-9. Here Jesus preaches a shrewd sermon which appears to shatter stereotypes about who is welcomed into the kingdom and how that welcome is brought about.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Satisfying the wrath of God?

OK. We have been here before at ADU (e.g. first of four 2010 posts here, this year here and here, the latter responding to Liturgy's posts, e.g. here). Lately I have sung 'In Christ Alone' in two versions. The one which excites controversy, "the wrath of God was satisfied," and one which attempted not to, by substituting the cited words with (from memory) "the love of God was full magnified."

Benjamin Myers, an Australian theologian of note and burgeoning reputation, has posted something interesting in relation to the question of what happened on the cross on his blog Faith and Theology. Asking the question "How does Jesus save?", he summarises the "typology" or categorisation of salvation theories by Gustav Aulen and then offers an alternative set of six explanations, grounded in Scripture and in the writings of the Fathers:

"1. Christ the Second Adam. A major theme most powerfully developed by Irenaeus in his account of recapitulation. Christ restarts the human race from the beginning and sets it on a course towards life. Christ replaces Adam as the new life-giving head of the human family. (Main scriptural source: Romans 5.)

2. Christ the Sacrifice. This is an important background theme that becomes explicit mainly in liturgical texts. Melito of Sardis' On Pascha provides the most vivid elaboration of sacrificial imagery, artfully interwoven with a plethora of other Old Testament themes and images. (Main scriptural source: the Pentateuch and the Gospel of John.)

3. Christ the Teacher. A characteristic theme of the Alexandrian tradition. Christ is the divine pedagogue who, by a slow and patient process, leads human souls up into the presence of divine wisdom. In some accounts this process extends into the afterlife. Clement of Alexandria developed this theme explicitly. The same theme supplies the basic architecture of Origen's thought. Many accounts of deification are really just elaborations of the end result of this educational process: life is a school, and deification is the graduation prize. (Main scriptural source: the four Gospels.)

4. Christ the Brother. The adoption theme is prevalent in early Christian writing. Christ becomes our brother. Through him we become members of God's family. What he is by nature, we become by grace. It is often in this context that language of deification is used: Christ is God by nature, and as his brothers and sisters we become gods by grace. Adoption language is especially pervasive in Origen. By the fourth and fifth centuries the emphasis tends to fall more on deification, but the deification theme should still be understood as a subset of either the adoption theme or the education theme (#3 above). (Main scriptural source: Romans 8.)

5. Christ the Life-giver. One finds this theme everywhere in early Christian liturgical and theological texts. It is developed with an impressive systematic rigour in the work of Athanasius. The divine Logos had to become incarnate in order to become capable of dying; by entering into death, he absorbs death into the divine life, thus draining away death's power; and by rising again, he transforms corruptible human nature into a glorious incorruptible nature. Here Christ's death and resurrection are equally emphasised as the two poles of the saving event. (Main scriptural source: 1 Corinthians 15.)
6. Christ the Healer. My impression is that this theme recurs more than any other soteriological theme in patristic writing, even though it is seldom developed in much detail. Very frequently Christ is described as a physician who cures our illness. Often he is also described as medicine. Gregory of Nazianzus speaks of the incarnation as a healing of human nature. Augustine is particularly fond of the healing theme, and it is a constant refrain in his sermons. He speaks of Adam as infecting the human race with the disease of pride, and of Christ's humility as the medicine that cures us. (Main scriptural source: the four Gospels.)"

There is food for thought here. Soteriology is a diamond with many faces!

Incidentally, Googling up the previous ADU posts led me to this brilliant post by Scot McKnight [corrected from earlier attribution to Michael Bird], in which he sets out the late, great Charlie Moule's argument for 'expiation' rather than 'propitiation' being the correct interpretation of those NT passages featuring hilasterion or related words.

What do you think? Should we still sing 'the wrath of God was satisfied' when we sing this popular hymn?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Final (for now) thoughts on AEO

Having offered some preliminary thoughts, thoughts about difficulties and pondered for a few more days, here is a 'final' thought for now, which builds on something I wrote at the end of the previous post on the matter.

Our church should give our bishops support and encouragement to pursue arrangements for episcopal care and oversight which fit their respective diocesan (episcopal unit) situations.

Across our 13 episcopal units are a variety of current situations and potential situations depending on decisions made (and not made) in the future. It likely asks too much of our General Synod to sort out legislation quickly for some kind of 'scheme' of alternative episcopal oversight (AEO) which covers all envisaged permutations.

Simpler, and potentially very effective would be support and encouragement to pursue appropriate local arrangements to account for the specific exigencies of each local situation. Many such possible arrangements are already covered by existing canons and customs. There is nothing (for instance) currently preventing the Bishop of X from inviting the Bishop of Y to undertake confirmations or ordinations (it is just that such invitations likely are issued when the Bishop of X is on study leave or health leave). There is nothing preventing the Bishop of Z from appointing, with diocesan support, an assistant bishop (who, for accountancy minded readers, need not be full-time). A recent case in point was the appointment of the then Dean of Auckland, Bishop Randerson (previously ordained to be Assistant Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn), to also be Assistant Bishop of Auckland in order to lighten the load of the then Bishop of Auckland, John Paterson, who was also Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council. There is nothing preventing ordination candidates being sent to another diocese for ordination and then presenting themselves back in their own diocese for appointment to a licensed position.

To think in this way is to leave each bishop with flexibility to pursue a course of action which suits themselves and their local situation. It does leave clergy and parishes out of tune with the course taken by their bishop without (so to speak) canonical protection (e.g. via a scheme in which they could opt out of existing arrangements and into something more satisfying). Against that concern, however, one can make the point that each bishop is accountable to God, their own episcopal unit and their conscience as to how they build the church and deepen the unity of their unit. Sensible bishops will do sensible things according to the presenting circumstances. A bishop unwilling to adjust their course of action in the circumstances we are discussing through these posts is likely a bishop who would not go along with a formal canonical scheme of AEO.

On what I have written so far, General Synod would not change its canons but what it could do is send a signal via a resolution which encouraged a change in custom. The current flexibility I see in our canonical situation has never (as far as I am aware) been applied to the future circumstances which likely will follow a General Synod as early as 2014 or as late as 2018. Only in emergencies generated by ill health or duress of additional burdens of office. It might encourage bishops to embrace new possibilities in new times if a signal was given to this end.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Is anything straightforward about alternative episcopal oversight?

Thinking on further from yesterday's 'preliminary thoughts', I see quite a few complications and have no great confidence they can be worked through! Here are complications I see.

(1) Our bishops en masse and then individual bishops within any individual diocese in which clergy/ministry units seek oversight would need to agree to 'alternative episcopal oversight' (AEO).* Why should they? They have, after all, been discerned, elected, consecrated and installed to preside over diverse rather than monochrome Anglicanism.

*At this stage I leave the specifics of what such oversight might look like, but, at a minimum, AEO necessarily involves some kind of delegation of authority by the present bishop(s) to another bishop or set of bishops.

(2) What would be achieved by AEO? If (say) a clergyperson or a ministry unit are 'offside' with their bishop on a matter of difference, it is true that they do not have to 'host' that bishop for (say) confirmations but could host another, more suitable, acceptable bishop, but save for that pastoral nicety, what else is achieved? If the ministry unit needs to engage with the diocese about property matters, if (say) seeking agreement to license a new clerical member of staff, then it is bound to engage in other ways with the bishop with whom it has difference. If, conversely, AEO included a separation of property (on the one hand) and a complete delegation of licensing authority on the other hand, is not a separate or quasi-separate church thereby established? Noting that in our Aotearoa NZ context we kind of have that with our three tikanga structure does not take us very far because it is a tricky ecclesiological issue to justify these arrangements as coherent with a notion of 'one church of God.' AEO, from that perspective, would compound a poor ecclesiology rather than develop a bold, new ecclesiology.

(3) Might there be fruitfulness in exploring development of current episcopal arrangements rather than establishment of AEO? Reflecting on the voting in the recent Auckland synod, for instance, suggests roughly two-thirds support for change and one-third support for status quo. There are two bishops there, both voting with the two-thirds. What if there was a third bishop, drawn from the 'one-third'? Might that assist that diocese in 'living together' with difference?

(4) AEO would not necessarily make any difference to some (at least) conservative [on this issue] clergy and ministry units. A sticking point re change is the authority of General Synod (under which licensed clergy and lay ministers/officers minister, by virtue of signing the 'declarations' on receipt of licence). AEO would not (as best I understand it) alter that authority, even if it altered the authority of the bishops.

(5) There is also a perspective provided by Malcolm in a comment to yesterday's post:

"As I tried to indicate in a comment on a previous post, I do not think that devolving decisions on chastity and marriage to individual dioceses is feasible. 

This is a communion level issue, and the decision of our General Synod will have far-reaching implications for our relationships with other Anglican provinces and ecumenical conversations. 

This context cannot be avoided by simply claiming some local option. Nor will alternative episcopal be able to paper over the cracks."

So, there is something of a maze to negotiate re the possibility of AEO as a consequence of a possible GS decision in 2014 to change the current status quo. Can you find a way out of the maze and offer the route in a comment here?

Response from Edward Prebble:

"Hello Peter

Thank you for your commitment to providing a substantive response to my idea for putting into shape what Brian Dawson, in an earlier posting, called a “mixed economy”.

First, let me say that your website is only the second time I have suggested this idea to anyone. The first time rather illustrated your comment today about bishops. I suggested it to a recently retired bishop, whose immediate comment was “I would not want the Bishop of ****** swanning around my diocese”.

The second point relates to the question of “compromise” or “olive branches”. We acknowledge that we cannot see a way to reconcile the two major views on this subject. The group to which I belong, which to avoid the increasingly unhelpful labels, I will call Group B, has come to the conviction that homosexuality is essentially a matter of who some people are (i.e. not primarily about what those people do). We would wish to answer in the affirmative the question posed a couple of years ago by Archbishop Philip Richardson: Do we regard sexual orientation as an expression of God-given diversity? Given that conviction, it is extremely difficult for Group B people to contemplate a compromise; treating GLBT people with equality becomes a matter of gospel-driven justice.

On the other hand, Group A members (I offer that “priority” of title for the groups in recognition that this is the historical position of the church) are remarkably short of wiggle room as well. They argue that we are not able to alter the doctrine of the church in this matter. Carl Jacobs illustrated this in a comment on the earlier posting, where I had suggested there are two groups each passionately seeing their respective positions to be derived from scripture, from the call of the gospel, and from commitment to Anglican traditions. His comment was No, you don't. You have one side rooted in Scripture and another side rooted in rebellion against Scripture." One side in this argument is illegitimate. His other remarks show Carl to be a Group A person, but his comment could easily be made with an opposite meaning by a Group B adherent.

So, if we cannot compromise on principle, but we also wish to remain together, motivated by other deeply held principles, then where can we compromise? My idea is driven by the idea that we compromise in the application, searching for every way we can to provide the “opposite” group with room to live, and move and have their being.

Yes, my idea would be very difficult to implement, unless we can generate the necessary good will. The idea is likely to fail because of the detailed complexity of its application, not because of any theological shortcomings. So what would happen to parish trust funds held by their “home” diocese? I don’t know. I think the necessary trust could only be generated if this were seen as a relatively brief, transitional arrangement, with a very firm sunset clause, and an agreement that the issues would be roundly debated again in 10 or however many years.

In response to Malcolm, I don’t see this as essentially a decision at diocesan level. It would depend on a very strong consensus at provincial level that we were willing to accommodate two modes of practice among us as a Church.

Finally Peter, a comment on your now repeated suggestion that it would behove the Auckland diocese to have a third bishop, selected among the 1/3 of synod who belong to Group A. Christchurch is, as I understand it, much closer to 50:50. Are you suggesting that there needs to be another bishop? And to achieve that, does +Victoria need to declare herself for A or B? Or is it OK to continue with only one so long as she maintains what you see to be a centrist position, but one that may be increasingly uncomfortable to the Group B members of your diocese? I think your plan has as many fish-hooks as mine!

Peter replies ... On the last paragraph's question, I agree there are fishhooks but these may depend on the fish, and the school or schools they swim in. Diocese X might wish to develop its current episcopal arrangements, not least because that might be a fruitful way to respond to difference. Diocese Y might choose to work out its differences under its current episcopal arrangements: again, not least because of local recognition that this would be more fruitful than enlarging the number of local bishops. The thought then strikes me whether our church might permit Diocese Z, if it chose, to work with the bishop of another diocese in order work through its differences, if that was a fruitful thing to do. (And, noting a point Edward has made below, for a time-limited period). 

Might I also pick up a point that Bryden Black has recently made on this site, here, that episcopacy is about unity: "Bishops are also necessarily foci of unity AMONG DIOCESES." However we move forward on these matters, we need our bishops to be foci of unity among the dioceses. That behoves the bishops to be talking well together.

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Bishop for Durham doesn't seem to be controversial

There were murmurs of possibilities of a controversial new Bishop for Durham (succeeding +Justin when he moved to become ++Justin). But the announcement of +Paul Butler would appear not to be controversial. (H/T Joshua Bovis at Convictional Anglican).

Preliminary thoughts on alternative episcopal arrangements for our church

Last week I posted an idea by Edward Prebble on alternative episcopal arrangements for our church in the event of General Synod 20?? - noting that Christchurch will be pushing for a 2018 decision, not 2014 - agreeing to the blessing of same sex partnerships but on a dioceses may or may not proceed to do so (here). For the purposes of this post I am going to assume that 'blessings' rather than 'marriages' is as far as GS would go for the foreseeable future.

With our diocesan synod, a school reunion, an all day trip to Dunedin and back for a funeral and the usual 'etc' of the week, it is taking me a while to come back to this proposal (on which many comments have already been received). Today is Post Ordination Training so the best I can do in the few minutes available is post some preliminary thoughts.

(1) I agree with Edward that our GS, whenever it does make a decision, is very likely to make one in which episcopal units take up the possibility of formally, officially, and without fear of Title D recriminations when they choose, or not at all. As I understand the history of the ordination of women in our church, this is what happened. The Diocese of Nelson, whose then bishop, +Peter Sutton was at best hesitant re the ordination of women, did not ordain any women in his diocese until c. 1988, some ten years after women were being ordained elsewhere. The ordinations of the first Maori and Polynesian women were years after that (as far as I recall).

(2) I agree with Edward that such episcopal unit determinacy then opens up the question of what happens for (say) conservative parishes in the Diocese of Auckland (which is clearly signalling it would want to proceed with such blessings) or liberal parishes (are there any?) in the Diocese of Nelson (which is clearly signalling it would not proceed with such blessings). I suggest, whether or not Edward's specific proposal is meritorious, that consideration is given to some means of holding dioceses, divided in this way on this issue, together. I also suggest that our history over the ordination of women does not provide a precedent for doing so because at that time we received that decision in a reasonably united way and without great pressure for some kind of alternative episcopal arrangements.

(3) At this point things get harder. Particularly difficult questions concern property, episcopal philosophy (most bishops I know are keen on the idea that they are focoi of unity for their dioceses), synodical representation, ordination (and processes towards ordination), and diocesan 'taxation' (noting that alternative schemes of episcopacy cost money).

That is a good point to exit this post ...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bryden Black responds to Tobias Haller

Recently, viz a viz various comments in posts below re human sexuality/marriage, Tobias asked Bryden for something more systematic that would present his position more clearly. Well go here for the response!

The background post and comment thread is here.

Christchurch Synod on marriage

The following is the agreed wording of the resolution which began with my proposed motion. The first three clauses are as proposed. The fourth clause is a replacement for the original clause (see here).

"That this Synod:
(1)  Notes a resolution from General Synod 2012,  “THAT this General Synod/ te Hinota Whanui resolves:

That given the long‐held mission of our Church to challenge and support couples publicly to commit themselves to each other,

Asks Episcopal Units to hold conversations in our Church and with the wider community about the nature of marriage,

And to explore how the Church might theologically and liturgically respond to gay and lesbian Anglican couples who request this rite,

Further, it asks General Synod Standing Committee to support and resource the Episcopal Units in this endeavour;

And for Episcopal Units to demonstrate progress to the General Synod Standing Committee and where appropriate, to Ma Whea? Mei Fe Ki Fe? Where to? Commission, in advance of the next General Synod/te Hīnota Whānui in 2014.”

(2)  Notes the existence and work of the Ma Whea Commission, as well as other work of a theological and doctrinal nature instituted by General Synod Standing Committee, with a view to the deliberations of these bodies informing further discussion of likely motions (at least two of which lie on the table from General Synod 2012) concerning ordination of partnered gay and lesbian persons, marriage, same sex marriage and liturgies for relationships at General Synod 2014;

(3)  Requests the Bishop and the diocesan representatives to General Synod 2014 to prayerfully discern the mind of this Diocese on these and any related matters which come before General Synod 2014.

      UPDATE: The following clause 4 replaced the clause 4 I originally proposed (now below the dashed line) and now forms the agreed wording for the motion:
      (4) Noting the cautions expressed in our Bishop’s charge about the care we should take in changing a long-held doctrine of the Anglican Church, this Synod believes more time is needed to give in-depth consideration to the theological foundations of the doctrine of marriage.

We therefore request General Synod in 2014 to postpone any decision concerning changing the doctrine of marriage to at least the 2018 General Synod."

Pokie Free Challenge

At the weekend our Synod resolved that parishes should not receive grants from the proceeds of Class 4 gambling (i.e. pokie machines). Towards that end a great website-come-challenge has been set up by my colleagues working in Social Justice for the Diocese/Anglican Care.

Here is a slice of the content:

"Christchurch has a sinking lid policy. This means that when any venue gets rid of its pokies the city-wide remainder is the new maximum number of machines. With more than 1 in 4 people who play regularly developing an addiction and around 2 million dollars a day being lost to pokie machines, any reduction helps.

Legally, venues cannot rely on their pokies to survive, and a number of venues have expressed that they don’t really like their machines. So just what would it take to get rid of them? And who will claim it first? Pledge generously and see where the tipping-point is for a bar.

So to re-cap: Fill in the PLEDGE box with whatever you are willing to give to a bar to remove its pokies. Whatever you pledge will appear in the OFFERS column with your company logo and link to your page if you would like. If you own a venue that has pokies and you like the look of the offers column then fill in the ACCEPT box, permanently get rid of your pokies, and claim all the pledges on offer. Win-win, everyone is happy."

Go HERE for the full site and the opportunity to write down how you respond to the challenge.

If you are not from Christchurch, how about a similar crack at pokies in your city or region?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Marriage is marriage, say Auckland laity

Our Christchurch Diocesan synod is over. A priority to participate in a school reunion event means that I was not present for the wrap up of the debate on my motion on marriage/General Synod, so I need to leave to a later post the wording we agreed to. Nevertheless some interesting news on marriage in our church comes out of Auckland Diocese.

Here is the Taonga report in full:

"Auckland Diocese has rejected a motion pressing for progress towards gay marriage, despite the two bishops voting for it.
The motion was debated at this weekend's diocesan synod.
While largely aspirational in nature, the motion sought both legal and liturgical progress on same-sex marriage.
It failed to reach a majority among the laity and thus failed to pass.
The voting was:
Bishops 2 for, 0 against; clergy 80 for, 44 against, 4 abstentions; and laity 72 for, 65 against, 8 abstentions.
A second motion in effect was an endorsement of liturgical blessings for same-gender couples.
It asked for work to be done on developing services for the blessing of same-sex relationships, to be taken to General Synod/te Hinota Whanui. 
This motion passed comfortably in all three houses:
Clergy 91 for; 36 against; laity 104 for; 49 against; and the bishops assented.
The difference in voting seemed to reflect the perception that the word “marriage” is sacrosanct.
Any definitive change will require related motions to be passed at General Synod in May next year."

This is a very interesting outcome in a diocese with a clear, trending liberal/progressive lean on these matters, considering recent synodical decisions.

1. It supports a line being pursued by some in discussions here: marriage is marriage but blessing of same sex (or, if you prefer, same gender) partnerships is another matter. Anecdotally I could take you to conversations I have had with self-declared liberals who think similarly to some conservatives on this distinction.

2. It offers a powerful challenge to those inclined to use the label 'homophobic' for resisters to changing the theological definition of marriage. In the mighty Diocese of Auckland that label would be applied to over a third of its clergy members of synod and nearly half of its lay members of synod. Still, don't let numbers deter you if you wish to so label ... after all, you know the truth and its frees you to cast aspersions on whom you will.

Additional comment (at 11.48 am Monday): I have just posted a (just discovered) comment from Edward Prebble (first of the comments below) about a third motion put to the synod, precisely on the topic of homophobia. Please read his comment below.

3. Noting the consistent voting of its two bishops, it raises the question whether Auckland should have a third bishop to reflect the conservative third of its synod :)

I have yet to come back to offer my own comment on Edward Prebble's proposal re future arrangements in our church ...

But the fourth and perhaps most important observation I offer here is the thought that this turn of events in the Auckland synod may offer a clue as to where GS 2014 should head if it has any interest in holding our church together.

4. Could GS 2014 offer an olive branch to all by resolutely leaving our doctrine of marriage alone but permitting and encouraging work to be done on a liturgy for the blessing of a relationship between two people of the same gender?

Postscript: I distinguish between the offering of such an olive branch and the reception of such an olive branch. I think that grace requires we offer olive branches to all. Whether all are willing to receive olive branches is another matter.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Situations Vacant

Here is a good job for the right person.

Make that another situation vacant for the right person, here.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In breaking news ...

A new bishop for Waikato and Taranaki Diocese.

Follow Up

Thinking Anglicans has a digest here.

Taonga report is here.

Liturgy makes comment here, especially about the special character of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki and the numerology of the bishops in/of that Diocese.

On numerology, noting Bosco Peters' post let me concentrate on 'firsts'.

Helen-Ann Hartley is/will be the first ...

female priest ordained in the Church of England to be elected a bishop in the Anglican Communion

woman bishop of Waikato / in Waikato and Taranaki

bishop elected for the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki (it was only named so in 2010)

pakeha priest with a theological doctorate to be elected bishop since 1990.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Quo Vadis for ACANZP, additional note

Edward Prebble, a colleague in the Auckland Diocese, has submitted the following as a comment on the post below re 'Quo Vadis' but I think it worth simply reprinting here in a post. I invite your comments - overseas commenters welcome but clearly Edward is referring to nuanced aspects of the local ecclesiastical polity or polities of my own church Down Under.

"Hello Peter

My apologies for entering somewhat late in this discussion, following computer difficulties.  I appreciate the way that you, Brian, Christopher Seitz, and Bryden and others are trying to find a way around a fundamental conundrum associated with this topic.  How can a group claiming to be inclusive hold within it a subgroup whose position excludes the position of the larger group?  One of three motions at the Auckland Synod this weekend addresses the fact that we have two groups, each passionately holding that its view is derived from scripture, from the call of the gospel, and from a commitment to Anglican traditions, but holding opinions that seem impossible to reconcile.

I agree with Christopher Seitz that the gospel places a particular burden on majorities – what might be called a liberal majority in Auckland and Waiapu, and a conservative majority in Nelson.  (Again, please excuse the use of very inaccurate labels to avoid lots of other words).  It is not appropriate for the majority to say, “ Look, we had a vote – we won, you lost, get over it.”  I suggest that it is equally inappropriate for a minority to hold out for many years preventing an action that a majority of their sisters and brothers believe to be a response to gospel imperatives.

If we are determined, as we seem to be, not to divide on this issue, then we will have to keep talking, and talking and talking to each other until we find a way forward.  In the meantime, life has to go on.  So we come to Brian’s “mixed economy”.  I agree with him; it seems likely that General Synod will decide that some of these decisions may be made at diocesan level.  But while that would prevent the probable liberal majority nationwide having a free hand, it would not solve anything at diocesan level.  What happens to the conservatives in Auckland, or the liberals (I presume there are some) in Nelson?  I really don’t think the Tikanga structure helps here, as that was a solution to a quite different problem,  but our willingness to do something that radical should open us to ways forward that  may seem equally far-fetched.

So how about this for an idea?  General synod indeed authorises dioceses (and Tikanga Maori bishoprics)to decide whether they will bless same-sex unions, and whether they will ordain openly gay/lesbian candidates.  There would also be an agreement that we allow ourselves a transition period of say ten years.  The dioceses would then be authorised to allow a number of parishes in each diocese (say the lesser of 10% or five parishes) to be seconded by another diocese which holds to a different approach.  The synods of the home diocese and the seconding one would each have to agree, but the parish would transfer its financial contribution to the seconding diocese, which would be responsible for appointments, confirmations, ordinations etc.   After ten years, there would be another Ma whea? Commission or similar, and we would make a permanent solution, informed by 10 years experience.  Presumably a later General synod could extend the arrangements, but the presumption would be that all parishes revert to their home dioceses after the transitional period.
So if Auckland Dunedin and Waiapu permitted same-sex blessings/marriages and ordinations, but Nelson and Christchurch did not (I won’t guess about Wellington, W & T, or the TM bishoprics) it might be that four or five Auckland parishes plus Holy Trinity Tauranga might join Nelson for ten years, and 3 or 4 Christchurch parishes might join Dunedin.

This would not be the same as the CofE flying bishops, as authority to the seconding bishop would be clearly delegated by the home bishop.  The bishops would hate it, but I think this would allow a sort of Gamaliel approach for a decade or so, in a situation where public opinion is changing much faster than we are able to keep up with.
What do you think?"

I will tell you what I think ... eventually, and perhaps only after getting through our own local synod this weekend!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Very funny way of summing up some lines of argument here

What is this Anglicanism thing?

Confused or bemused about what Anglicanism is or ought to be, Anglicans plough on with working out who we are, why we exist, what we could or should become. Ahead of a post or two I have previously signaled re diverse matters such as rubrics and GAFCON, I offer a couple of paragraphs posted on Euangelion by Michael Bird, cited from Stanley Hauerwas, with his own an interesting editorial note. Hauerwas, incidentally, could be described as an accidental Episcopalian:

"“Anglicanism is the name for the ongoing attempt to enact the interdependent character of churches in a manner that, in Kaye’s words, accomplishes ‘Catholicity without Leviathan’” (275). [NB from MB, I should add that in some cases Anglicanism can be like Protestantism without the Reformation or like Catholicity without Nicea].

“Anabaptists and Anglicans are seldom thought to share a common ecclesiology, but Kaye and Yoder have very similar understandings of the Catholic character of the church. I have often described my ecclesial identity to be that of a ‘high church Mennonite’ – to be sure, a descriptor originally designed to confuse my critics. But in light of the account of the catholic character of the church Yoder and Kaye provide, I hope my self-designation can be understood as a viable future for the church”"

The whole post, with reference to the original article by Hauerwas is here.

'Kaye' must be 'Bruce Kaye', a noted Australian Anglican writer and scholar (whom I had the pleasure of re-meeting at the recent SNTS conference in Perth).

Is anyone reading here a 'high church Mennonite'? 

As a counterpoint I think I would describe myself as a low church conciliar (i.e. synodical) Catholic!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Synod is coming up!

I have two motions to propose at the next Christchurch Synod (this weekend, Friday 6th to Saturday 7th September). Unfortunately the latest printing of the Synod papers has a draft rather than final version of the two motions. I understand the final version of each will be in the papers handed out at the beginning of Synod. Here they are:

"Motions for September 2013 session of Synod:

Mover in both cases: Peter Carrell
Seconder in both cases: Ruth Wildbore

That this Synod:
(1)  Notes a resolution from General Synod 2012,  “THAT this General Synod/ te Hinota Whanui resolves:

That given the long‐held mission of our Church to challenge and support couples publicly to commit themselves to each other,

Asks Episcopal Units to hold conversations in our Church and with the wider community about the nature of marriage,

And to explore how the Church might theologically and liturgically respond to gay and lesbian Anglican couples who request this rite,

Further, it asks General Synod Standing Committee to support and resource the Episcopal Units in this endeavour;

And for Episcopal Units to demonstrate progress to the General Synod Standing Committee and where appropriate, to Ma Whea? Mei Fe Ki Fe? Where to? Commission, in advance of the next General Synod/te Hīnota Whānui in 2014.”

(2)  Notes the existence and work of the Ma Whea Commission, as well as other work of a theological and doctrinal nature instituted by General Synod Standing Committee, with a view to the deliberations of these bodies informing further discussion of likely motions (at least two of which lie on the table from General Synod 2012) concerning ordination of partnered gay and lesbian persons, marriage, same sex marriage and liturgies for relationships at General Synod 2014;

(3)  Requests the Bishop and the diocesan representatives to General Synod 2014 to prayerfully discern the mind of this Diocese on these and any related matters which come before General Synod 2014.

      UPDATE: The following clause 4 replaced the clause 4 I originally proposed (now below the dashed line) and now forms the agreed wording for the motion:
      (4) Noting the cautions expressed in our Bishop’s charge about the care we should take in changing a long-held doctrine of the Anglican Church, this Synod believes more time is needed to give in-depth consideration to the theological foundations of the doctrine of marriage.

We therefore request General Synod in 2014 to postpone any decision concerning changing the doctrine of marriage to at least the 2018 General Synod.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

(4)  Affirms the doctrine of marriage of this church, as explained in Clause 1.3 of Title G Canon III Of Marriage.

Appendix to Motion: Clause 1.3 of Title G Canon III reads as follows:

“The minister shall provide education to the parties seeking marriage on the Christian understanding of marriage, or see that such education is provided by some other competent person, in accordance with any Guidelines that General Synod may from time to time issue.
In particular the minister shall ascertain that the parties understand that Christian marriage is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into in the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind and will, and with the intent that it be lifelong.
The Church's teaching on Christian marriage is enshrined in the Formularies of the Church and is expressed in all the marriage services in the Formularies and in the introduction for the congregation to Christian marriage in A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, (See Schedule II of this Canon).”
Explanation: ‘Formularies’ here means the Book of Common Prayer and A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia o Aotearoa. Schedule II of the Canon collects together teaching on marriage enshrined in our prayer books.

That this Synod:
(1)   Notes that 2014 is the bicentenary year of the first preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, at Oihi, on Christmas Day, by the Reverend Samuel Marsden with Ruatara interpreting;

(2)   Encourages ministry units in the Diocese of Christchurch to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with renewed vigour and creativity;

(3) Asks each ministry unit in the Diocese to undertake at least one new evangelistic initiative during 2014."