Church Issues

NEW ZEALAND: Auckland synod sees no bar to ordination of gays, lesbians in committed relationships

By Taonga staff
September 06, 2011
Lens Episcopal News Service

By Taonga staff, September 06, 2011

[Anglican Taonga] The Auckland Diocesan Synod in New Zealand has decided that people in same-sex relationships should not be excluded from ordination.

After a debate lasting much of Sept. 3, synod agreed that sexual orientation should not be an impediment to ordination or any other offices in the church.

The debate included a range of viewpoints, including a plea that the motion was about justice and ethics, ‚  while those opposed citied biblical authority.

Some parishes reported that if the motion passed, some members would leave. Others said parishioners were already leaving because they perceived that gay and lesbian people were not acceptable.

Synod heard a call for more time to talk and study the issues, but others said they had been doing so for many years.

Voting for all five parts of the motion was done by secret ballot across houses, and all five parts passed with strong majorities.

The full text of the motion is:

"That this synod:

[1] Holds that sexual orientation should not be an impediment to the discernment, ordination, and licensing of gay and lesbian members to any lay and ordained offices of the church; and further
[2] persons in committed same-sex relationships likewise should not be excluded from being considered for discernment, ordination, and licensing to any lay and ordained offices of the church;
[3] commits to an intentional process of listening to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, organized by the Archdeacons in consultation with the gay and lesbian community;
[4] commits to an ongoing discussion with the ministry units, asks the archdeacons to facilitate this, and invites responses to those discussions to be submitted to Diocesan Council by 31st March 2012; and
[5] commits to support the process and work of the commission to be appointed by General Synod Standing Committee, as resolved at its meeting in July 2011."

In his synod charge, Diocese of Auckland Bishop Ross Bay said he would ordain people in same-sex relationships if the wider church agreed to it.

"The ordination of people in same-sex relationships remains a matter of debate and concern within the [Anglican] Communion as a whole and the member provinces," he told the synod.

"As the bishop, I am very conscious that this diocese has not done its work effectively in engaging around this issue ... Should the appropriate basis for change be found within the church, I would be willing to proceed with such ordinations within this diocese.

"However I have been clear from the start that I will not pre-empt the appropriate decision-making processes of the church as a whole. The bishops of our province have agreed to impose such a moratorium on ourselves while the hermeneutical processes are continuing and better progress is made towards consensus. In addition this year, advice has been offered to suggest that any such ordination could be subject to judicial challenge under the canons.

"So it is important that the process towards a decision either for change or for the status quo is worked out carefully and in step with one another."