Media Release – May 14 2014

Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

The General Synod/te Hinota Whanui of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New
Zealand and Polynesia has decided to explore ways that the blessing of same
gender relationships could be part of Church life.

The ruling body of the Church is meeting in Waitangi this week to acknowledge
200 years since the arrival of the Christian missionaries to Aotearoa, New

The three Archbishops, reflecting the three tikanga structure of the Church,
Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson, and Winston Halapua, say the
Synod upholds the traditional doctrine of marriage. At the same time the Synod
wants to develop ways to respond to committed relationships between two
people, that tell of the love of Christ, regardless of gender.

The Archbishops say the Synod holds a wide range of views but it has expressed
unanimous support for the decision to identify what changes could be
recommended. The Synod wants to protect diversity in the Church as a way
forward is developed.

Archbishop Winston Halapua says, “The Synod is committed to ongoing
talking/talanoa as it considers change and to follow the mandate of Christ to love
one another at all times.”

Archbishop Philip Richardson says, “We have witnessed across the Church a
depth of extraordinary trust and respect, there is a unity in Christ in
conversations that have enabled us to get to this point. There is a hope that this
trust we have seen with faith, hope, and love will continue as change is

The Synod statement has recognised that over many years it has become
increasingly aware of the pain to the LGBT community. The Synod has
apologized unreservedly for the times actions of the Church have contributed to
that pain.

A working party will be appointed to recommend processes and structures that
allow people to choose whether they lead, or not lead, same gender blessings.
That choice will be dependent on whether each person believes such blessings
are contrary to, or in agreement with scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law. The
Synod was very mindful that there are present legal restrictions in some nations
in Polynesia on same gender relationships. The working party would also
propose a liturgy to bless right ordered same gender relationships.

A report has also been requested on how such possibilities may impact on future
requirements for ordination and the rite of marriage.

The working party will report to the next General Synod in 2016. Any change is
likely to take up a minimum of four years as it may require
constitutional change for the church as well as parliamentary legislation.

The Synod is mindful of the need to respond to members of the LGBT community
in a more immediate time frame. A decision was made that those in a same
gender civil union or state marriage can be recognized in public worship with
clergy seeking the approval of the local bishop and licensed leadership body.
Such recognition cannot be a rite of marriage or a blessing.

Archbishop Brown Turei says it is significant that this conversation about change
for the church, that holds differing views, has taken place at Waitangi.

“This is the place where Maori and Pakeha talked and trusted each other and
began a new journey 200 years ago. The discussion we will have as change is
considered, like those first ones here at Waitangi, will not be easy at all times
but may we hold the mana of each of us made in the image of God,” says
Archbishop Brown.

All media inquiries
Rev’d Jayson Rhodes
Communications Advisor to the Anglican Church
021 661319