"I ask that the idea below is considered against the background of the "broad place" Anglicanism noted above, along with the fact that in the past few decades, despite same sex partnered clergy being part of the life of most dioceses, no bishop has been taken to a disciplinary tribunal for licensing these clergy.
My thought re an improvement to the proposal is to pare it back and slim it to a minimum set of changes:
(1) our declarations are changed in line with the proposal
(2) clergy and ministry unit office holders may determine without fear of discipline whether or not blessings of same sex relationships will be conducted within the ministry unit
(3) bishops have discretion to accept a person in a same sex marriage or civil union as a candidate for ordination or appointee to licensed ministry position.
I think (2) and (3) are the minimum we would need for space to be given for SSB (or, indeed, House Blessings) to be conducted in our church and for bishops to lift the moratorium on accepting candidates for ordination etc.
I suggest (2) would remove bishops from disputes with clergy who do not think they should be giving permission for such to happen or approving forms of service for SSBs. It would also enable the possibility of SSBs to occur in a ministry unit in a Diocese which otherwise generally held the view that SSBs ought not to happen.
Obviously (3) could lead to disputes with bishops, but would it lead to differences of view between bishops and their clergy which are not already in existence?
Incidentally I cannot recall one comment on the specifics of this particular proposal which I naively thought might get us around certain difficulties with the current proposal being discussed by our diocesan synods and hui amorangi.
But here is the thing: there is definitely, within our church, a school of thought which, frankly, wants no SSB happening anywhere, anytime, under any conditions which imply official or formal approval of our church.
There is also a(n overlapping) school of thought which seeks theological work to be done which has not be done - despite some work being done, the proposition here is that more work needs to be done. We should be principled in our pragmatism rather than pragmatic in our pragmatism - if, indeed, our principles permit us to be pragmatic. (On which we might usefully read this blogpost about our already constructed pragmatism).
Of course there is a school of thought which wants the status quo to change, and yesterday!
What is to be done?
Here is one of the simplest things we could do, on the face of it: to carefully and graciously separate our church into two churches, one which has nothing to do with SSB and one which has something to do with SSB. But this possible way forward is not as simple as it sounds because our church does not neatly divide into two groups on SSB (remember, on any issue in our church there are always at least three groups: conservative, moderates and progressives).
Here is another of the simplest things we could do, on the face of it: to commit to patient unity. If we are called by Christ to unity (and we are) and if we are in such disunity on an issue that we might split apart (anathema), then ecclesio-logic commends that we make no decision to change the status quo. On this approach we could certainly, at the least, commit ourselves to theological work together.
Then there is the recommendation of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans NZ, that we institute alternative episcopal oversight so that we make the best unity out of our disunity: various groups within our church are in unity with one or more, but not all bishops. I won't here canvas the pros and cons of this proposal (there are many), nor set out a judgment on the possibility, suffice to say that this is as much worth considering as the two possibilities set out above it.
At this point I am not setting out a revision to the first few paragraphs above - specific comments to any or all those suggestions welcomed.
I also welcome comments on three suggestions above for "What is to be done?"
APROPOS of a Comment or two below about braided rivers: