26 November 2022

Family violence in Indigenous and First Nations communities, Safe Churches motions endorsed | General Synod Day 3

General Synod attendees have now voted on the motion regarding the definition of marriage. Image: Supplied.


To sum up the day, synod voted in favour of redefining ‘unchastity’ to mean sexual intimacy outside of marriage, and the Safe Churches motion was carried, as was the one pertaining to Family Violence and First Nations Communities. In that motion synod requested the Families and Culture Commission to work with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council, the Church’s First Nations leaders and relevant diocesan teams to help develop family violence prevention resources appropriate for their context.

And with that, I hope you enjoyed today’s updates. We’ll be back tomorrow morning with all you need to stay abreast of synod happenings.

Jenan Taylor wishing you a good evening, and signing out.


It has been a long day and with very little time left to consider the next motion, 20.1, Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility, synod decided to adjourn for the day.

Further consideration of Bill 14, was also adjourned.


The amendment has been carried, with 123 voting in favour and 111 against.


Two speakers have raised concerns about the motion to amend Bill 14, questioning whether an online synod would have to be resorted to if someone was suddenly too unwell to attend

Melbourne laity delegate Dr Jennifer George has said she supports the motion and said that it would be applied within reason.

The motion for the amendment is now being voted electronically.

Read more: Anglican Church in ‘perilous’ position after failing to define marriage as one man, one woman: Raffel


Bunbury House of Laity delegate Ms Renae Barker said she interacts on Facebook with a range of women who cannot participate usually in person at meetings. For the first time in years they now have been able to participate, she said. But in last six months their participation has been wound back as we’ve come out of isolation and are now meeting in person again. Ms Barker encouraged synod to approve the amendment as a way to do things differently and be more inclusive of those with disability and illness.


Melbourne laity delegate Ms Elizabeth Culhane has moved an amendment to Bill 14. She appreciated the benefit the bill gave in that it applied if delegates were require to legally isolate, but wanted to add to it that it should also apply if people couldn’t attend because .. “by reason of a temporary or permanent disability, disease or illness, medical condition or injury …”


Newcastle Diocese Archdeacon Arthur Copeman is moving Bill 14 – a Bill for the General Synod Presence Canon 2022 which will enable an online synod.

Mr Copeman said because of COVID the would be helpful to have this because who knows what the future held.

He said it made online attendance possible where a government directive makes in person attendance impossible

He said the bill carried areas that might be needed in the future but that do not change the way in which the synod operates and which would not replace in person meetings.


Bill 12 – A bill for the Strategic Issues, Commissions, Task Forces and Networks Amendment Canon 2022, was passed.


Bill 9 –   a bill for the Episcopal Standards Investigations Amendment was passed.

 Bill 10 –  a bill for the Long Service Leave (Sabbatical Allowance Amendment) was passed.


Diocese of Perth Reverend Elizabeth Smith – wanted to remind synod not to think there is something intrinsic to the culture of Indigenous and Torres Strait island communities that creates family violence. This  was the product of removal from country, separation of generations, stealing of generations. Us whirte fellas have helped to create inter generational trauma that  is heart breaking. So we have to listen deeply and respond out of knowledge of past sin and genuine repentance.

Bishop McLeod thanked synod for listening. The motion was carried.


Dr Elu asked how much of the Indigenous world Australians really understand.

As a counsellor and family engagement officer Dr Elu travels to First Nations communities often and there are so many grave issues there, she said.

The services provided for those who experience domestic violence are never sufficient, she said. The perpetrators are sent away but come back into the community so there is no safety for those who suffer at their hand. Indigenous people always seems to be in that category of suffering – why is that, she asked.


And we’re back with NATSIAC member Bishop Christopher McLeod moving 16.8 Family Violence and First Nations Communities.

Dr Rose Elu is seconding the motion.


Also on the agenda when General Synod returns this evening is motion 16.8 Family Violence and First Nations Communities.

This relates to the Australian government’s new draft national plan to end violence against women and children that prioritises two five-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander action plans

Synod requests the Families and Culture Commission to work with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council (NATSIAC), the Church’s First Nations leaders and relevant diocesan teams to assist them to develop family violence prevention resources appropriate for their context.

See you here at 7.30pm!


Synod is breaking for evening prayers and a dinner break, and will be back at 7.30pm. We’ll be continuing these live updates, then, too.


I was unable to catch the name of the delegate, but there has been a move to amend the Faithfulness in Service reference in the Affirming Singleness motion. To delete the reference would strengthen the motion and return the affirmation of singleness to singleness itself, the delegate said.


Reverend Treweek said the Affirming Singleness motion related to the Faithfulness in Service national code adopted in 2004 by synod, that also called for church workers to take responsibility for their sexual conduct by maintaining chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.

In 2022, Ms Treweek said, the question before us is whether we as a national church will choose to value those chaste single Christians themselves. It affirms she said that “Singles like marriage is an honorable state for God’s people, … and that singleness is highly commended in scripture.”


The Reverend Dr Danielle Treweek of Sydney Diocese has just moved motion 20.6 Affirming Singleness.


Bishop Kate Prowd, Diocese of Melbourne, said she spoke as a bishop, clinical psychologist, mother and friend. She welcomed the motion saying that it recognises and rejoices that everyone is made in the image of God.

She said she is committed as a pastor to loving and living with and in difference. Sexual minority people often feel dehumanised and devalued, she said and LGBTQA+ people are people with tears because of what members of the church have done or sad.

Her daughter identifies as someone who is LGBTQA+, Bishop Prowd said and had exhorted her to speak about this.

She said the debates so far had shown that an apology alone is not sufficient.

“I support the motion because we know that strong public messages of support protects the health of this community. They rest in hope that the Anglican church will be welcoming and respectful of them,” Bishop Prowd said.

Read more: Ministry wellbeing and development policies endorsed


We now turn to the motion for order 20.5 Safe Churches.

Sydney Diocese’s Right Reverend Peter Lin has moved the motion. He said it was about being sorry. He is now apologising to all those who have been hurt and adversely affected by treatment that negates and devalues them as human beings.

The Diocese of the Northern Territory’s Reverend Kate Beer said she had agreed to second the motion because she felt genuine sorrow that people who represent the church had caused hurt and left people feeling disrespected. It’s a good thing to say sorry, she said.


The House of Bishops were in favour with 12 voting for and 11 against. The motion is carried.


In the House of Clergy 69 voted for, 39 voted against.


62 delegates in the House of Laity voted in favour of the amendment, 48 against.


The statement was changed to reflect that synod held the view that unchastity means sexual intimacy outside of marriage.

Bishop Michael Stead said that those who opposed the amendment of the meaning of the word ‘unchasity’ on the basis of its inaccuracy in drafting had not raised concern in the three months since it was drafted. He asked synod to consider what it would mean if the house of Bishops again failed to uphold the meaning of chastity.

They are now voting.


Again, delegates are queuing to give their views.

The Reverend Elizabeth Smith, Diocese of Perth, opposed the motion as it is not helpful and not useful in the mission. Labelling that kind of language is going to damage our mission so encouraged it not to  be passed by synod.

The Diocese of Adelaide’s Reverend Professor Peter Sandeman said there is difficulty with the drafting of the statement and the use of the term, ‘sexual activity’. What constitutes sexual activity, he asked, and pointed to US  President Bill Clinton’s denial of having engaged in it as an example of the play of words that sometimes happens when the term is used.

Read more: Anglican Church in ‘perilous’ position after failing to define marriage as one man, one woman: Raffel


As a reminder, the motion seconded by Melbourne Diocese’s Ms Seak-King Huang, is to adopt a statement relating to unchastity. The statement defines unchastity as sexual activity outside a marriage relationship, defined in The Book of Common Prayer as the union of one man and one woman.


Sydney Diocese Bishop Michael Stead is now talking about the definition of “chastity” and “unchastity” in the context of a motion on the statement as to the Faith, Ritual, Ceremonial or Discipline of this Church made under Section 4 of the Constitution.

Read more: Synod votes against statement that same-sex marriage is contrary to teachings of Christ


Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier spoke about the value of financial support. He supported the motion but believes synod needed to go further in support of regional and remote diocese.


We’re back and an amendment to the second part of the Viability of Regional Diocese order, is being debated.


It’s been a busy afternoon, but here’s a quick summary of what’s happened so far:

There was a move to resume considerations about the Marriage, Human Sexuality and Same-sex relationships Order, however the synod decided to push on with Climate Change and Regional Viability motions.

The synod heard from a range of people about the motion to call for the Australian government to act on climate change. Most people were in favour of it, and it was carried.

Finally, although there was a move to amend the wording of 23.8, the Viability of Regional Diocese order, it was decided that the original words would remain.  


This was the wording of the motion for the Viability of Regional Dioceses order.

Recognising the financial stress and administrative strain placed on regional and rural dioceses due to the legacy of historic sexual abuse claims, the rising cost of insuring property and ministry operations, and the increased workload from centrally-mandated ministry programs: requests that the Standing Committee, with the support of the Diocesan Financial Advisory Task Force determine how the Metropolitan Dioceses could take on greater responsibility for supporting ministry in all the dioceses of their respective Provinces including but not limited to policies, processes, administration, registries, insurance, redress and continued presence in regional and rural ministries

An amendment at 23.8 was called to encourage metropolitan dioceses to support those in their provinces including.

The Diocese of Brisbane’s House of Clergy Bishop Cameron Venables was against the amendment.

Chair of the Diocesan Financial Advisory Task Force, Mike Codling also stood against it. He said the task force offered assistance and said they would try to manage the activities of reginal diocese to survive. A national approach would mean we’re informed to make those decisions, he said, so believed that the original words should be reverted to.


We turn now to the next Order – 23.8 Viability of Regional Dioceses.


Most people were in favour of the motion, and it was carried.

The Reverend Andrew Schmidt Diocese of Sydney house of Clergy supported the motion.  It was manageable when we commit to taking action individually or as an organisation, he said “but when we ask the government to take action, we don’t know the costs, what the unintended consequences might be and we don’t know the effectiveness of what our actions might be … We have to recognise that this is a complex situation and we are advocating for climate measures which may have unintended consequences in the short terms”.

The Reverend Len Firth of Melbourne works with many refugees.

He’s in a movement called Christians together for climate and his involvement with them makes him stand in favour of the motion.

Fiona McLean Melbourne House of  Laity said we need to think about how to help the poor affected by climate change including how to help them get reliable sources of energy.

Mr Richard Connelly of the Diocese of Gippsland House of Laity – the increase of heat related mortality and morbidity, the time for talk has ended. The urgent need for action is now.

The climate change performance index ranked Australia worst out of 57 countries on green house gas emissions policies.

He commended the motion, he said, “in that our collective voice is being added to the voices of the young people and others calling out against it.”

Diocese of Sydney House of Laity  Dr Laurie Scandrett described himself as  climate change realist. He said he didn’t understand why clause 5 in the motion called on the Australian government to act. It should call on all governments, he said.


The Reverend Christian Ford of Grafton supported the motion saying it affected the most poor. He described those who had been affected in Lismore, from people perishing in roof spaces to farmers who’d lost cattle.
Over 3000 homes were unliveable in Lismore and beyond by the recent floods, he said.

“I’m angry and share the anger of those in my community. [Australia] has been warned and warned but nothing is being done. My city drowns and we can’t get a clear number of the people who died. Something has to be done. Climate change is embedded in these floods from Brisbane to Sydney. … I don’t want to come back in 15 yeas and look at another motion on climate change and another spate of natural disasters, ” Mr Ford said.

A queue of people stand ready to voice their views on the motion.


Bishop Chris McLeod commended the motion saying that he believed that we are living with the effects of climate change now and that “I’m an optimist by persuasion but believe the Barrier reef will die in my life time.”

Bishop Murray Harvey commended it as well.


The schedule continues now with order of the day motion 16.11, to call on the Australian government to take action on Climate Change.


A motion had been moved and seconded to accommodate the following Order of day motions 16.11, 23.8 and others as well as to resume consideration of motions 8.7.6 (Marriage, Human Sexuality and Same-sex relationships).


The business committee met over lunch to discuss the schedule for the rest of the day.


We’re back for the afternoon session of Day 3 of the General Synod. This is Jenan Taylor taking you  through the rest of the day’s happenings.


Here is an up-to-date, in-depth wrap-up of Archbishop Raffel’s closing statements, thanks to my colleague Elspeth Kernebone, who was also tuned in:

Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel has warned that the Anglican Church in Australia is in a perilous position, after General Synod voted against a motion stating that the solemnisation of same-sex marriage was contrary to the teaching of Christ.

The motion – in the form of a statement – affirmed marriage within the church as being the exclusively between a man and a woman. It was seconded by Melbourne representative the Reverend Natalie Rosner.

Read more: Synod reaches ‘difficult conversation’ of same-sex marriage | General Synod Day 2

Visibly affected by emotion, Mr Raffel said in jurisdiction after jurisdiction of the church, the issue of the blessing of same-sex marriage had been a tipping point for many.

The statement was lost in the House of Bishops, with 10 voting in favour of the statement, 12 against. The House of Laity and House of Clergy both voted in favour of the statement.

Mr Raffel named countries which had seen dioceses and clergy leaving the established church.

“Failing to make these affirmations today has left us in a perilous position, and no one should be mistaken about that,” Mr Raffel said.

“I deeply regret the outcome, though of course I accept it.”

Put to the synod by Mr Raffel, the statement read that “the faith, ritual, ceremonial and discipline of this Church reflect and uphold marriage as it was ordained from the beginning, being the exclusive union of one man and one woman”.

It stated that, “The solemnisation of a marriage between a same-sex couple is contrary to the teaching of Christ and the faith, ritual, ceremonial and/or discipline of this church.”

It also read “Any rite or ceremony that purports to bless a same-sex marriage is not in accordance with the teaching of Christ and the faith, ritual, ceremonial and/or discipline of this Church”.

The synod adjourned 15 minutes ahead of its scheduled lunchbreak at 12:30.

Read more: Ministry wellbeing and development policies endorsed | General Synod Day 1


Archbishop Raffel is now making a personal statement.


10 bishops voted in favour, while 12 bishops voted against the motion. The motion has been lost.


The House of Clergy has now voted. The number of votes in favour of the motion total 70, with 39 votes against.

The House of Bishops is now voting.


63 laity voted in favour of the motion, 47 voted against.

The voting is now open to clergy.


The House of Laity is now voting that the motion be agreed to.


Sydney Archbishop Kanishka Raffel is now making closing comments on the bill. He says that the content of the bill is “unremarkable”. He says the bill “brings the love and grace of Jesus” to those in the LGBTIQA community.

Archbishop Raffel says the Australian community is watching what the Anglican church will decide on this issue. He says that for those who disagree with the bill, it is a “serious matter” to deny the content of his motion.


The statement is being put forward. I made an error that the bill had been passed – jumped the gun there.


The Reverend Canon Craig Roberts of the Diocese of Sydney, the father of an adult same-sex attracted person, denies that the bill makes the space smaller and says that the bill is important in our current legal context and needs to be decided today.


Bishop Garry Weatherill of the Diocese of Ballarat says that the bill “makes the space smaller for conversations to happen”, and is voting against the bill.


Bishop Mark Short of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn is calling for a vote to support the bill, and says he is proud of the egalitarian stance of his diocese. Bishop Short says that the work ahead of clergy, if the bill gets passed, involves “prayers, listening and learning” to people of the LGBTIQA community.


Mr Richard Connelly of the Diocese of Gippsland House of Laity says that using just one interpretation of the passage quoted for the motion in Matthew 19 is not faithful exegesis. He asks that delegates vote against the bill.


The Reverend James Warren of the Diocese of Sydney says that to support the bill is not unloving, and does not mean that those supporting Archbishop Raffel’s motion are not out of touch.

Reverend Warren said that following the Bible’s principles “is always loving”.

Another Sydney Diocese clergy member voted for the motion, but I did not catch their name. Another clergy member voted against the motion, also missed the name. This is moving very fast.


Bishop Richard Treloar of the Diocese of Gippsland says that “for [Anglicans] to be seen to withhold God’s grace to those duly married by the law sorely tests [Anglican] credibility”.

Bishop Treloar says that this is a decision best made “at the local level”, rather than nationally.


The Very Reverend Peter Catt of the Diocese of Brisbane encourages delegates to vote no to the bill.


The Venerable Tiffany Sparks, of the Diocese of Grafton, says that this is not just an issue of LGBTQIA rights, and that the motion presents the underlying concept of complementarianism. Ms Sparks said this motion runs the risk of “unraveling all of the work that has been done” to bring greater equality for women in the Anglican church.

Right Reverend Michael Stead of the Diocese of Sydney says there is no “happy middle ground”, and that Archbishop Freier’s proposal that a select panel should decide this question is not the answer.


Like yesterday, there is a long line to the microphone. I will do my best to keep up with what is happening.

Dr Barry Newman of the Diocese of Sydney spoke in decisive support for the bill, stating that God has “written gender” into his creation.


Reverend Shane Hubner of the Diocese of Melbourne began the discussion, speaking against the bill presented by Archbishop Kanishka Raffel yesterday. He offered a personal note that two of his siblings are same-sex attracted, and that it is “deeply painful” to know that the church he serves does not approve of their unions with same-sex partners.

Archbishop Freier followed Mr Hubner with the point that the process used to come to a conclusion on this topic has consequences for parishioners, and that it was important that the outcome of the bill is able to be fully accepted.


The same-sex marriage debate is beginning, so settle in.


Discussions are happening around the handling of sabbatical allowances for clergy in the event of the diagnosis of a terminal illness. The discussion has been put on hold as morning tea is starting.


Several motions were passed regarding the bill which serve to simplify the functions of the ESC, and clarify their involvement in cases of disciplinary action.


A motion has been put forward by Justice Debra Mullins AO regarding a bill which addresses the involvement of the Episcopal Standards Commission (ESC) in handling complaints with clergy.

Discussion is around the wording of the bill – as to whether it allows for enough investigation into complaints or creates unnecessary blockages for the ESC.


Objections to motions so far have been relating to desires for more information regarding the motions, but don’t seem to constitute objections to content or proposals.


Delegates are putting forward motions regarding the handling of LGBTIQA+ students and staff in Anglican schools, suicide rates among war veterans, palliative care funding, euthanasia, the conflict in Ukraine and juvenile detention laws.

The same-sex marriage discussion is slated to be picked up again at 11am, so you have just over an hour to grab a coffee and a sweet treat.


Welcome to our live coverage of Day 3 of General Synod. Kirralee Nicolle here to take you through the morning session.


This is a wrap from yesterday’s proceedings, courtesy of Elspeth Kernebone:

A debate on the issue of marriage within the church is due to take place today at General Synod, after it was suspended on Tuesday night.

Read more: Synod reaches ‘difficult conversation’ of same-sex marriage | General Synod Day 2

The issue came before the synod on Tuesday mid-afternoon in the form of a statement from Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel about the nature of marriage, circulated ahead of the synod. It was seconded by Melbourne representative the Reverend Natalie Rosner.

The statement read as follows:

Pursuant to the authority recognised in s.4 and s.26 of the Constitution to

make statements as to the faith, ritual, ceremonial or discipline of this Church,

and in accordance with the procedures set out in Rule V, the General Synod

hereby states:

1. The faith, ritual, ceremonial and discipline of this Church reflect and

uphold marriage as it was ordained from the beginning, being the

exclusive union of one man and one woman arising from mutual

promises of lifelong faithfulness, which is in accordance with the

teaching of Christ that, “from the beginning the Creator made them

male and female”, and in marriage, “a man will leave his father and

mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”

(Matt 19:4-5).

2. The solemnisation of a marriage between a same-sex couple is

contrary to the teaching of Christ and the faith, ritual, ceremonial and/or

discipline of this Church.

3. Any rite or ceremony that purports to bless a same-sex marriage is not

in accordance with the teaching of Christ and the faith, ritual,

ceremonial and/or discipline of this Church.

Synod delegates spent most of the business session debating several proposed amendments to the statement. One of these was carried, adding reference to the previous position of the General Synod on the issue in 2004, and a reference to a 2017 change in Commonwealth law which legalised same-sex marriage in Australia.

Three other amendments were proposed, none of which were successful.

By the time this discussion had taken place and delegates could speak to the motion itself, it was 5pm with the business session due to end at 5.30.

Read more: Ministry wellbeing and development policies endorsed | General Synod Day 1

Several delegates spoke both for and against the motion, including from Melbourne the Reverend Canon Professor Dorothy Lee speaking against, the Reverend Peter MacPherson speaking for, and House of Laity delegate Fiona McLean speaking for the motion.

Delegates are also due to discuss a motion relating to the new federal government draft national plan to end violence against women and children, that prioritises two five-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander action plans.

The motion as put requests the new Families and Cultures to work with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council, the Church’s First Nations leaders and relevant diocesan teams to assist them to develop family violence prevention resources appropriate to their context.

The synod will also debate a motion calling on Australian Governments to support Pacific, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in their call for urgent reductions in emissions and greenhouse gases.

It will also discuss several bills relating to Episcopal Standards.

The synod is also set to discuss a call to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14, an issue that has been the subject of a nationwide campaign #RaiseTheAge.

The campaign warns that in just one year, nearly 600 children aged 10 to 13 were locked up, and thousands taken through the criminal legal system.

It warns this disproportionally affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Among other issues set for discussion are a movement in opposition to euthanasia, a motion relating to rates of suicide in Australian Defence Force veterans, palliative care funding, Ukraine, and religious discrimination and religious freedom acts.

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