The Anglican Church in New Zealand voted Wednesday to allow ministers to informally bless same-sex unions, to the chagrin of conservative ruling synod members.
The Anglican synod for Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia passed a motion allowing bishops to permit or forbid ministers in the churches they oversee to offer informal blessings to same-sex couples in civil unions or marriages, according to Christian Today.
The motion did not permit ministers to perform same-sex marriages and did not allow for the creation of an official liturgical blessing for homosexual unions. Some conservative members of the ruling synod resigned nonetheless after the motion passed.
“The passing of this report finds us left behind and unable to move forward with you in good conscience as we seek to honour the Lord and love His people,” wrote ruling synod member Rev Jay Behan in a letter, according to Christian Today.
“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.”
Rev. Al Drye, another conservative member of the ruling synod, joined Behan in signing the letter. Behan is also the chair of the traditionalist Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand, which also issued a statement opposing the synod’s decision.
“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,” the statement read.
“FCANZ believes that God loves all people, from all walks of life, calling each of us to repent and have faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes speaking of this love involves saying difficult things that run counter to the culture of today. However we remain convinced that it is good for all humanity and the only place for the church to stand,” the fellowship added, saying also that they will welcome other ministers who oppose the vote.
The Anglican synod for Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia consists of three parties — The Maori, Pakeha (European), and Pasifika (Polynesian).
The Pasifika overtly opposed the motion, but abstained from voting and allowed the Pakeha and Maori parties, or tikanga, to pass the motion. The Pasifika and other conservative members of the synod will opt out of the change and continue to operate according to traditional Christian doctrine.
Very Rev. Ian Render, dean of Waiapu Cathedral, championed the motion. Render is also openly gay and married. He appealed to the synod to consider the candidates for ministry who were turned away because of their sexual proclivities.
“I’m standing to remind you of all the people we have lost along the way. The people who were candidates for ordination – but who were turned down because of their relationships, or their declared sexuality,” according to Christian Today.
He urged the synod to give homosexuals “a place to stand in this church.”
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