The Primates of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have established a working group to identify “structural arrangements” which would allow all those with differing views on same-sex relationships to remain in the Church.
The working group was
requested by the Province’s General Synod earlier this year when it postponed a decision on the A Way Forward report until the 2018 Synod.
The Primates say that they were “inundated with submissions”
following the Synod decision from people suggesting who should be on the
working group and what the submissions should be.
They have decided on a
two-tier approach: the working is a six-person body with a “tightly
focused mandate to identify ‘structural arrangements within our
Three-Tikanga Church to safeguard both theological convictions
concerning the blessing of same gender relationships’”.
Tikanga refers to the three cultural streams of the province: Māori,
Pākehā (European settlers), and Polynesian.
There will also be a wider panel of consultants to serve as a point
of contact for the working group. These will comprise people suggested
by various lobby groups including Affirm, the Fellowship of Confessing
Anglicans, and Changing Attitudes. It will also include legal advisers.
The three Primates of the province wrote a letter to the church this
week in which they described being “humbled” by their meetings with
those who have sought to discuss issues of sexuality with them since the
Synod decision in May.
“What has stood out is the grace, the compassion and the goodwill
reflected in these discussions,” the Primates said. “A very high
proportion of those who have spoken with us are so clearly genuinely
seeking to step into the shoes of those they disagree with.
“There is a clear determination to come around the table and work for
mechanisms that allow us to move forward together in mission without
minimising or denying our differences.”
The six-person panel includes both lay and ordained members. It
comprises the Bishop of Nelson, the Rt Revd Richard Ellena; the former
provincial general secretary, Mrs Jackie Pearse; the Vicar of Massey in
Auckland, the Revd Learne McGrath; the Chancellor of Christchurch
diocese, Mr Jeremy Johnson; a lay member from the Diocese of Polynesia,
Mr Fei Tevil and the Dean of Tikanga Maori at St John’s College, the
Revd Katene Eruera.
The working group have been asked to provide feedback on different
suggestions put to them by the end of January 2017; with a finalised set
of proposals for consideration by the wider church by 1 July 2017.