THE Anglican Church in New Zealand is to allow blessings of same-sex marriages or civil unions after a landmark vote at its general synod on Wednesday.
The vote was subject to the appointment of a select committee, which will consider and report back to the synod this week on the constitutional and canonical changes needed before blessings can be offered.
But, in a statement on its website, the Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia said: “The decision, none the less, is clear: after almost 50 years of debate about human sexuality, the Anglican Church has created a pathway for the blessing of same-gender couples.”
Blessings would not be written as formal liturgy, but, instead, would be given informally, the motion said. The motion will allow bishops to give permission to priests under their jurisdiction to bless same-sex relationships, or to deny it (News, 11 August 2017).
Speaking in the debate, the Dean of Waiapu Cathedral, the Very Revd Ian Render, who is gay, and married, said: “Thank you for the graciousness that I have experienced in these past couple of days. Please give me, and others, a place to stand.”
The motion was opposed by the Church in Polynesia, which said that the move would not be accepted in the Polynesian Islands. Members abstained from the final vote, and the motion passed comfortably.
Two members of the synod, the Revd Jay Behan, who chairs the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand, and the Revd Al Drye announced their immediate resignations.
In a letter, they said: “The passing of this report finds us left behind and unable to move forward with you in good conscience.”
“We leave with no anger or bitterness in our hearts, and we wish you the best as you seek to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In a statement, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand said: “While we are thankful for the gracious spirit in which the debate was held, we disagree with the final outcome. We believe the General Synod has acted in a way which leaves behind biblical authority, the apostolic tradition, and the doctrine and practice our Church has always held.”