Thursday, April 7, 2016

[BREAKING PETITIONS] When is not a Blessing a Blessing? and other news [UPDATED X2]


Yesterday I learned that not one but two petitions are circulating in our church in the run up to General Synod.

In no particular order of priority (since I will give you the order of my discovery of them)

Clare Barrie, Vicar of St Luke's Mt Albert in the Auckland Diocese, is circulating a petition (here to sign) with this as the key request,

"It expresses the hope I share with many Anglicans that our Church will become a place that welcomes all, including sexual and gender minorities and their friends and families. 
After many years of study and discussion, this year's GS/THW will consider a report entitled 'A Way Forward'. The report's recommendations are very limited - Anglican clergy would still not be able to marry same-gender couples, for instance - but they include some small but significant steps towards becoming a more welcoming place for LGBTI Anglicans. 
Please add your voice to this petition so that Members of GS/THW will understand the depth of anguish being caused across our province and beyond by our current exclusion of LGBTI Anglicans from our life. "

The Latimer Fellowship of NZ (of which, he says, with David Cameron-like transparency, I am a Vice-President), is circulating a petition (here) with this as the key request:

"WE the undersigned members of the Church of the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia express dismay that there is a motion before the Synod authorising the church to bless same-sex civil marriages and to ordain people in such relationships as recommended in the report A Way Forward / He Anga Whakamua / Na Sala ki Liu, and do pray General Synod / te Hinota Whanui to reject the recommendations of the report."

So here is a teaser question to ponder today: could one sign both petitions with a clear and consistent conscience?  

No, dear broad Anglican, the answer is not, "Of course we can because we're Anglican." Nor is it "Of course we can't. Anglicans don't sign petitions unless it's for Saving the Planet."

I am looking for something more theologically informed than that :)

Wales has gone the less than full monty on blessings of same sex relationships, with notices here and here.

In my own (quick) estimation of what is going on with Welsh not-blessings which look like blessings (though see comments to the Thinking Anglican article) is that I remain of the view that worth exploring by one legal means or another in ACANZP are services of blessing which are authorised for use (i.e. may be used) but which are not formularies (i.e. make no pretence of incorporating words which imply they represent the common mind of our church and therefore what must be adhered to by licensed ministers as expressing what we believe together.)

On a different note, and with regret that I myself cannot be present, Bosco Peters' notes that a celebratory eucharist is to be held at 6 pm Tuesday 12 April at St Michael's and All Angels, Christchurch - celebrating ten years of Liturgy ministry through the internet.

And just before Lusaka we learn the extraordinary news that the Kenyan delegation are ignoring their Archbishop's request for them not to go to ACC. We can agree with Archbishop Eliud that indeed godly order has broken down ... but who has broken it down????

Now, from the "you wouldn't read about it and believe it" department of worldwide Anglican news, we have allegations-with-evidence of fraudulent activity by, let's be diplomatic, a "senior" Kenyan Anglican church leader. Read it all here and ask yourself ... well, loadsa questions like, "What's really going on in churches we in the West think of as monochromatic?"


Father Ron Smith said...

"And just before Lusaka we learn the extraordinary news that the Kenyan delegation are ignoring their Archbishop's request for them not to go to ACC. We can agree with Archbishop Eliud that indeed godly order has broken down ... but who has broken it down????" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

A sign of the times,Peter? This seems like the moral authority in the Kenyan Anglican Church does not rest solely with its Primate. What better proof of the GAFCON Primates' inability to dragoon their people into submission on matters of adiaphora. "Godly Order' may actually prove to be something different from the GAFCON Primates' Agenda.

Anonymous said...

Dear Peter

Mostly - thank you for your mention of celebrating ten years of online ministry.

Secondly (and I may get to commenting on another of your appropriate threads more about this) I suggest you don't use "authorised for use" when you mean "i.e. may be used". I noticed your responded with "permitted" to my "allowed" to a comment of mine. If we are to keep our discussions clean and clear, I suggest we use "authorised" for formularies. And "allowed" and (being clear that it is totally a synonym/equivalent) "permitted" for services that our church allows. I have composed a number of eucharistic prayers - they are allowed to be used in our church because of the formulary "A Form for Ordering the Eucharist". I have composed a lot of liturgical resources (including lots of collects, just as an example). These are allowed to be used.

We are allowed to bless missiles and animals, we may celebrate the end of a relationship, we may bless a school building and an abortion clinic - but our church has no authorised services for any of these actions. People will know that allowing clergy the discretion of marrying someone who is divorced with the spouse of that marriage still alive is allowed by canon - it is not a formulary of our church. We do not have to believe that such an action is part of the Christian faith - but it is allowed for those clergy and couples who do. Such a paradigm continues to seem to me to be the way forward, but the last time I tried to explore such options I was publicly castigated by a member of the Way Forward Group as not having ensured I got the facts - so I place it here not as a solution, but as a question.

Easter Season Blessings


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I get the distinction between "authorised" and "allowed".
Something (sticking to the realm of exploratory questions rather than definitive statements) to consider could be whether we might have services which are not pretended to be of the common mind of the church (formularies) but are not as unintended as "allowed" services (blessing pets, warships, and such) because they represent this church authorising specific services for use by those who choose to do so (albeit within some canonical framework).

A blessing of a same sex service might thus be an "intended" service of this church representing an intention of this church to provide such as service as well as to allow its use. The difference then with blessings of pets and warships is that our church has not provided an intended service for such occasions, only a flexible template+allowance to do so.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter
you have linked to a petition from Claire Barrie from 2 years ago rather than her current petition.


Peter Carrell said...

I have updated that - hmm not sure how that happened!

Anonymous said...

So there is a petition from a Latimer Fellowship of which you are president, Peter, from members of a certain "The Church of The Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia" in response to a Report from some Group about another church called the "Province of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia".

I'm all for such robust ecumenical debate, but I hope that the church in which I serve, The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, follows a more creative way forward - it has had half a century, without issue, allowing clergy and couples to supersede "lifelong" if their conscience allows; that seems to me to be the paradigm to follow to allow the superseding of "opposite-gender".

Easter Season Blessings!


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bosco
Far be it for me to draw attention to your fallibility but I am a mere "vice-president" of Latimer!

I mention that because, while I will support the executive committee of Latimer in promulgating a petition to retain the status quo doctrinally in our church, I must, ahem, cough, ahem, distance myself from the error of getting the name of our church wrong.

Mind you, as you and I have previously discussed, this is a far reaching error in our church since even the AWF working group, with bishops and chancellors upon it, got the name of our church wrong in the report. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the correction to my before-coffee, early-morning blog comment, Vice-President Peter [have you considered changing “vice” to “deputy”?!]. I’m pleased it wasn’t an error that I was making in a formal petition or Group Report to GSTHW! And, yes, as you saw, the second half of my first sentence refers to the AWF Group you mention.

Such a front-page error does continue to reduce my confidence, your own pressing me to retract my suggestion notwithstanding, that the limiting of the implementation of a formulary by means of a canon may be inconsistent with the 1928 Act and/or lack fundamental authorisation in the first place.

No one has managed to point to where this facility (of canon limiting formulary) is authorised. And the only example anyone has offered is the Marriage Canon wherein I would question the alteration of the Marriage Formularies (2.6) – not just their limitation.

It is the Marriage Canon that was used to alter our marriage doctrine half a century ago – altering marriage from being lifelong to intended to be lifelong.

You may very well get the distinction between "authorised" and "allowed", but many of your readers may not, not forgetting that it is not yet two years since our church formally acknowledged that our own processes of “authorisation” were inconsistent with the 1928 Act and lacked fundamental authorisation in the first place.

If there is nowhere that explains that GSTHW by 50% vote may limit or even alter a formulary by a Canon – what is to prevent individual dioceses from limiting or even altering formularies by a 50% vote?!

The model being proposed would have us all believing in a change of doctrine but potentially have us all unable to put this belief into practice!

Furthermore I foresee the possibility of a person who was married in a civil marriage holding a licence in a diocese which does not permit the blessing of a civil marriage challenged that they are not in a rightly-ordered relationship and losing not only his/her license, but with it his/her livelihood.

Finally, in a church that cannot get its own name correct, now realises (only because of this debate) that it had been acting inconsistently with its own Act, and (again only because of this debate) declares that we cannot define clearly the doctrine that we sign up to – I would not be proposing, as you are, a further category of “intended” services beyond “authorised” and “allowed” ones.

Easter Season Blessings!


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, it may not surprise you that I will not be signing the petition to General Synod concocted by your 'Latimer Fellowship' friends, in the hope of influencing the outsome of debate on 'The Way Forward', because I think the philosophy behind your petition might better be called 'The Way to Oblivion', for its negativer attitutde towards any progress in ACANZP's opening up the Good News of the Gospel to ALL People.

I have already signed the more pastoral petition offered.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
I am reacting your comment at 11.35 am this morning by way of excising the last paragraph which I have reason to believe through correspondence is an unwarranted slight on the veracity of the reporting which you cite in the unpredicted part of your comment. I have no wish to be pursued in the courts of the law!

"Peter; re your final (UPDATED) para. in this section, you provide a link with 'Anglican Ink' co-hosted by George Conger, a well-known critic of TEC, containing this paragraph:

"In 2013 elections for primate of the Anglican Church of Tanzania were marked by bribery allegations, with supporters of ousted Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa claiming the Episcopal Church of the USA purchased the votes of some delegates to ensure the election of a candidate favorable to the US church. The Tanzanian church’s general secretary denied the allegations, but other church leaders confirmed to AI the veracity of the claims.'

[omitted material]"

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Bosco
As per my Tweet this afternoon, I think you are pointing to a belt and braces radical rethink of the whole of our teaching on marriage, how it is framed and articulated and by what constitutionally viable, valid and validated route.

Malcolm said...

Hi Peter,

The Latimer Fellowship admin has circulated the petition to its email list, but the petition itself is not a Latimer initiative. I'm not entirely sure who drafted it, but as a member of the Latimer executive, I am not aware of any formal decisions we have taken in this regard.

I suspect the petition was a bit of a rush job without wide consultation. In their defence, however, it is a circumstance forced upon the drafters by the extremely short timeframe given them by the delayed publication of the report. That members of our church have had no time to address General Synod on this important matter (either by Diocesan Synod or by way of petition) is just another example of how botched the whole process has become.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Malcolm
I don't think it washes that the Executive haven't approved it: someone is accountable here for:
1. A petition circulated by Latimer WITHOUT sign that it is not a Latimer initiative;
2. At least as far as this email portal is concerned, no other sign or signal from any other source that "someone" has organised this petition other than Latimer.
Surely the staff are not authorised to take action on such a potentially sensitive matter without the approval of the Executive???

Malcolm said...


I agree with you on your two points. Not being clear on the status and origin of the petition is to be regretted. I notice that the petition is not on either the Latimer or Affirm websites. I think that points to its hasty and ambiguous nature.

While I sympathise with the petitioners (whoever they are) and support their desire to make some response, I simply don't think there is enough time to gather a petition before GS meets in May.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I find it interesting, in the light of your on-line on-going conversdation with Malcom Falloon here, that notice about the alleged "Latimer Petition" should have actually been published by you:

"The Latimer Fellowship of NZ (of which, he says, with David Cameron-like transparency, I am a Vice-President), is circulating a petition (here) with this as the key request:....."

Surely, as a Vice-President of the Latimer Fellowship, if the authenticity of this petition was questionable to you, you ought not have advertised it? - only asking.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
Think of it as Latimer circulating a petition of unknown provenance with a reasonable point to make and ADU is on circulating the circulating petition.

Father Ron Smith said...

I've just thought of a fitting reply to your titular conundrum, Peter:

Q: When is a Blessing not a Blessing
A: When it is a curse.