Our Diocese is in the midst of a series of pre Synod meetings, prior to our 3 March Synod to discuss (among other matters) the Final Report of the Working Group (see posts below). Then, in May, General Synod meets in New Plymouth to receive the report and to address its recommendations.
In the to-ing and fro-ing from one commission to another and from one General Synod to another, various proposals have been mooted and that has generated notions that whatever General Synod decides in 2018 there will then be a further round of diocesan synods and hui amorangi to discuss and vote on things, then GS 2020 considers further and then a year of appeal before anything ACTUALLY HAPPENS.
Between a statement yesterday in a circular email to the Diocese and a Pre Synod Meeting tonight, we seem to be clear (unless you, Dear Commenter, say otherwise!) that in my own words:
(a) the recommendations of the Final Report, concerning new declarations by office-holders, bishops and clergy, require the "twice round" GS and local synod approval process (because related to the Constitution);
(b) the remaining recommendations to either amend existing canons or introduce new canons require a simple, single decision of the General Synod.
While there is some timing contradiction between my part (a) above and part (b) above, it is possible that by later this year same sex blessings could be offered in our church.
Two observations may be important to digest for those for whom this clarity may be a surprise. (The second is thanks to a correspondent.)
(1) That we do not have anything as strong as a Formulary (requiring the "twice round" procedure) is (IMHO) the outcome of the WG listening to conservative voices (both at the last GS and subsequently). That is, the WG has taken on board conservative concerns and refrained from proposing a change (or added innovation) to our Formularies which would be a formal change to our doctrine. So, while conservatives may have desired a longer process of decision-making, the shorter process is due to the conservatism of what is being proposed.
(2) (Hypothesising that GS accepts the recommendations in toto) conservatives after May will have greater freedom to be conservative within our church than after a Formulary change. A Formulary change applies everywhere and to everyone (because Formularies are integral to the doctrine we say we believe when we accept (lay or clerical) office in the church). What is proposed requires bishops to make decisions which will be impactive on their episcopal units but not on others. A Diocese via its bishop, for example, could opt out of any SSBs being performed in that diocese. And, even where a Diocesan bishop does authorise SSBs, the formation of Christian Communities can ring fence a group of parishes off from SSBs taking place within those parishes, including ensuring succession of clerical leaders to continue such discipline.