The Anglican earthquake
And they don’t want a blessing from the church.
‘‘I don’t want to upset anybody any further than I need to. It’s upsetting . . . I’d love to be able to go with my family, and have been invited by members to come along, but I do know there are people who don’t believe that the way that I live is an acceptable way to live, and I don’t want to expose my children to that.’’ That’s exactly what Philip Richardson doesn’t want to hear. The Anglican Archbishop of New Zealand says Motion 29 was a carefully considered, long-thought-out mechanism to unite the church in rapidly changing times.
The trouble for Saunders, Rimmer and many others is that churches don’t do rapid. What Richardson claims as a ‘‘significant step’’ for the church has been reached by a decadeslong process.
‘‘We’ve been working since the 1970s around trying to understand, gaining as much knowledge from science, from reading of scripture, from trying to understand context.’’
He says the church supported law reform in the 1980s that decriminalised homosexuality. That movement gained more momentum in the past decade, with further changes to New Zealand legislation, culminating with the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, which legalised same-sex unions.
Anglican forums included the Ma Whea? (Where to?) commission travelling the country to hear submissions on the subject; a doctrine commission looking at the biblical and theological issues around same-sex blessings and ordination; and another working group called The Way Forward, which put recommendations to the 2016 synod.
Those centred around two ‘‘very clear, irreconcilable positions: one which said scripture was unequivocal and homosexual activity was sinful; and another that you need to read this alongside the big, broader themes of the scripture’’.
The overriding issue, says Richardson, was finding ‘‘a way to structure our life in the church which can hold that level of divergence in the same family; do we have to fracture, do we have to split, does there have to be winners and losers?’’
The latter seemed the most likely in 2016, when the General Synod deemed the potential for upheaval too great. ‘‘So we pressed the pause button.’’
They finally found The Way Forward in New Plymouth two weeks ago, when the new ‘‘legislation’’ was passed unanimously by church leaders.
Richardson is proud of the achievement and the thought