19 August 2022

Same-sex marriage motion lost at General Synod | General Synod Day 4

Delegates discuss the motions put forward at General Synod. Image: Supplied

6.45pm

It was quite a second last day at General Synod with a number of items, including same-sex marriage, singleness and attendance at synod, drawing robust discussion. Here’s a quick reminder of those.

There were moving addresses by those supporting and opposing the motion to support same-sex marriage. However, the motion was lost late this afternoon with 145 delegates voting against it and 95 in favour. The University of Divinity vice-chancellor, Professor Sherlock had spoken in support of it. “Is our marriage an example of Godly and gracious living? That is for others to judge, not me,” he said.

The Affirming Singleness bill yielded addresses by several delegates about singleness, some of which began yesterday. There was also a move to amend the Faithfulness in Service reference that the bill related to, but that wasn’t carried.

Mrs Fiona McLean of the Diocese of Melbourne and The Reverend Canon Phillip Colgan of the Diocese of Sydney had put forward a petition requesting that the House of Bishops “clearly affirm and be united in their support” for the exclusive union of one man and one woman in marriage.

This morning the amendment to a bill about attendance at General Synod drew a great deal of discussion as well. Presented last night by Elizabeth Culhane of the Diocese of Melbourne, it focused on the wording of the amendment, which seeks to allow for those unable to attend in-person “by reason of a temporary or permanent disability, disease or illness, medical condition or injury” to attend via videoconference.

We certainly hope you enjoyed all our coverage, but Elspeth Kernebone will be back to take you through the final day’s proceedings in the morning. For now though, that’s it for me. Thanks again. Jenan.

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5.40pm

A motion broadly supportive of same-sex marriage has just been lost with 145 delegates voting against it and 95 in favour.

The motion spoke of same-sex marriage as “a moral good and a gift to be celebrated, providing an enrichment of the Christian understanding of marriage and a witness to God’s grace and love, consistent with the testimony of Scripture and Anglican tradition as expressed in the historic Creeds”.

This was despite discussions not being concluded, as by day’s end there were still several delegates waiting to address it.

Melbourne’s Peter Sherlock had spoken in support of a motion that would consider same-sex marriage as a “moral good and a gift to be celebrated providing an enrichment of the Christian understanding of marriage”.

The University of Divinity vice-chancellor, Professor Sherlock spoke about his own experience in a long-term same-sex relationship, saying the public recognition of same-sex Christian marriages was of vital importance.

Professor Sherlock spoke about how he and his partner had married in 2017, after Australia legalised same-sex marriage.

“Is our marriage an example of Godly and gracious living? That is for others to judge, not me,” he said.

4.57pm

The Reverend Associate Professor Matthew Anstey of the Diocese of Adelaide in commending the motion said the affirmation of same-sex marriage is in accordance with the scriptures. What are the overall moral imperatives, Associate Professor Anstey asked. “We must ask specifically what is wrong with homosexual marriage. What sin is being enacted in that moment; what harm is being done; what evil is being propagated?” He said in all the literature he had read on same-sex marriage he had yet to find an articulation of the specific wrongness of it.  

He closed saying, “God revealed in Christ through the spirit affirms, blesses and delights same sex-marriage.”

4.55pm

Synod has turned to discussing 24.3 Affirmation of Same-sex Marriage.

This motion reads as the following:

The General Synod

a) welcomes the introduction of civil same-sex marriages in Australia as

providing a state-based way of recognising faithfulness, love and

commitment;

b) gives thanks for the public witness of Christian same-sex couples;

c) notes the diversity of theological and legal viewpoints published by the

Doctrine Commission, Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage and the Anglican

Church of Australia, and that this diversity of viewpoints is found among

faithful, committed Anglicans who worship in all dioceses of the Anglican

Church of Australia;

d) affirms that marriage is not considered a matter pertaining to salvation in

this Church, as noted by the Appellate Tribunal Wangaratta Reference

[140]: “at many points in time between 1662 and the present day, that

doctrine [of marriage] was changed in response to different

understandings of Scripture, changing perceptions about the respective

roles of men and women, and the need to accommodate the law of the

land …. These changes never signalled that the Church of England’s

teachings expounded during the solemnisation rite were being proclaimed

as matters going to salvation or part of the ‘faith’ of the Church”; and

recognising that in heaven we shall neither marry nor be given in marriage

(Mk 12:25);

e) notes that at no point in the process of the General Synod’s passing of

canons relating to holy matrimony (Solemnization of Matrimony Canon

1981, Marriage of Divorced Persons Canon 1981, Matrimony (Prohibited

Relationships) Canon 1981) was reference made to constitutional

impediments to such, as noted by the Appellate Tribunal Wangaratta

Reference [141];

f) acknowledges the continual evolution within the church, including the

Anglican Church of Australia, of its position on moral issues – such as

slavery, capital punishment, interracial marriage, contraception, the

equality of men and women – and the concomitant absence of any such

moral injunctions in the historic Creeds;

g) considers same-sex marriage as a moral good and a gift to be celebrated,

providing an enrichment of the Christian understanding of marriage and a

witness to God’s grace and love, consistent with the testimony of Scripture

and Anglican tradition as expressed in the historic Creeds.

4.50pm

There has been a lively discussion about Singleness and the motion Affirming Singleness has just passed.

4.45pm

Things got very technical and confusing this morning, so we missed the fact that the petition put forward by Mrs Fiona McLean of the Diocese of Melbourne and The Reverend Canon Phillip Colgan of the Diocese of Sydney was in fact passed.

After the petition was passed, it was recommitted, so we got confused as to whether the petition was accepted by the Synod.

4.35pm

Synod has returned to the question of whether to amend the Affirming Singleness motion.

The Affirming Singleness bill related to

Faithfulness in Service was adopted by the General Synod
in 2004 “as the national code for personal behaviour and the practice
of pastoral ministry by clergy and lay church workers” (Resolution
33/04).

Notes that in Faithfulness in Service clergy and church workers are
called to take “responsibility for their sexual conduct by maintaining
chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage” (FIS 7.2).

Affirms that singleness is, like marriage, an honorable state for God’s
people, in which the fullness of God’s blessings may be enjoyed.
Singleness is highly commended in Scripture (1 Cor 7:8, 32-38; Matt
19:10-12).

There was a call to remove the reference to Faithfulness in Service.  Deleting the reference was called for because it would strengthen the motion and return the affirmation of singleness to singleness itself, among other reasons.

The amendment has not been agreed to, however, and the original text has been restored.

Read more: So, what happened with the same-sex marriage debate on Thursday morning?

4.15pm

Hello, Elspeth Kernebone stepping into the blog for a deeper dive while Jenan continues listening in to synod.

The subject of Bill 11 was a complex one, and we’re both just working through the explanatory memorandum to understand the significance of such a short bill – and why it sparked so much discussion. Bolding throughout all mine.

And to clarify, the bill did fail – an earlier version of the story had that wrong, our apologies.

Here’s what we have so far, drawing heavily from that memorandum. Essentially, it seems like the bill was an attempt to clarify which document exactly defines the doctrine of the Anglican Church in Australia. I’d keep the same-sex marriage conversation in the back of your mind as context.

The change would have seen the 1992 Canon rendered as follows, the crossed out section being the current form, the italicised section being the proposed form:

“All variations in forms of service and all forms of service used must be reverent and edifying and must not be contrary to or a departure from the doctrine of this Church any principle of doctrine or worship referred to in section 4 of the Constitution.”

The background is that, the effect of the Constitution and two canons (the Australian Prayer Book canons 1977 and 1995) means that a diocesan bishop has no power to permit a liturgy that contravenes any principle of doctrine or worship laid down in the Book of Common Prayer or the 39 Articles.

When the Canon Concerning Services was passed in 1992, a section set out the a limitation on the scope of deviations. That limitation was that “all variations in forms of service … must not be contrary to or a departure from the doctrine of this Church”.

The explanatory memorandum states that until recently, it had been assumed that the phrase “the doctrine of this church” was synonymous with “a principle of doctrine or worship referred to in section 4 of the Constitution”. Therefore, it was assumed that no service could be authorised under the 1992 canon that contravened a principle of doctrine or worship in the Book of Common Prayer, or in the 39 Articles.

But the determination of the Appellate Tribunal relating to the Wangaratta blessing of same-sex unions determined the phase the “doctrine of this Church” had a much more restricted meaning. In this sense it only includes those matters of faith which are “required of necessity to be believed for salvation”. It does not extend to the principles of doctrine and worship in the Book of Common Prayer, or the 39 Articles.

So the implication is, that this subsection of the 1992 canon – section 5(3) to be specific – could “purportedly” be used to authorise a service which contravened a principle of doctrine or worship referred to.

If any reader can explain this bill more accurately, please shoot us a line at editor@melbourneanglican.org.au.

4.03pm

The motion was carried and the chaplains in the room given a standing ovation by synod.

4.00pm

Mr Alan Gallimore of the Diocese of Brisbane House of Laity moved the motion saying

Defence force chaplaincy balanced standing up for the powerless and the broken and giving advice even when it is unpopular. They nurtured, cared, gave encouragement and support and they needed support that encouraged them physically and spiritually.

“Chaplaincy support to the defence force members is vital and very highly valued… Your chaplains are doing an outstanding job in very outstanding circumstances,” he said.

3.45pm

Synod now turns to Order of the Day, motion16.20 Defence Chaplaincy. Through this order, the General Synod:
thanks God for the wonderful ministry of Anglican Defence Chaplains
undertaken in the increasingly difficult climate of growing secularism and
pluralism
• thanks God for the privileged position and blessed opportunity to still have
Christian chaplains living among and ministering to our Defence Force
personnel
• notes the significant reduction in support for the Bishop provided by
Australian Government Department of Defence and encourages each
diocese to financia
lly support Defence Chaplaincy by collecting a
congregational donation each year on Defence Sunday (the Sunday before
Remembrance Day)
• affirms the importance of Anglican Defence Chaplaincy as a critical
element of the Church’s ministry, notes the benefits to the Church of
partnering with Defence Chaplaincy in gospel ministry, notes the strategic
importance of having high calibre younger women and men serve as
chaplains, and therefore encourages each diocese to work with the Bishop
to the Defence Force in recruiting them.

3.25pm

So it was an interesting afternoon with what was for me a rather complex bill being put forward. I’ll lay it all out here again.

Just before breaking for tea, Dr Michael Stead of Sydney Diocese moved that Bill 11 which is a bill for the Canon concerning services (amendment) 2022 be approved in principle. He argued that it would give parishes greater scope of freedom in how they presented their services and said his purpose in moving it was not to address the same-sex blessing issue, rather, “It’s to prevent liturgical iconoclasm.”

Following a number of questions about it, including from Archbishop Philip Freier who wanted clarity as to what Dr Stead meant by “liturgical iconoclasm”, a number of delegates stated their opposition to it.

The Reverend Dr Elizabeth Smith, Diocese of Perth, was among those who opposed it. She told synod she wanted useful, helpful, theological liturgical innovation. The proposed change would add nothing helpful. She said that although it did not mention same-sex marriages it would constrain the presentation of services.

Dr Stead replied to concerns saying, “There is a  delicious irony of this debate that is not lost on me that people from Sydney are arguing for a broader range of latitude while others are being conservative about it.”

Primate Geoff Smith then asked synod whether they agreed to the principles of Bill 11, but the bill did not pass synod.

3.15pm

Voting is closed, and the Bill didn’t achieve the required majority in any of the houses after all.

3.11pm

The situation has just changed, however, as being a special bill, it also needs to be voted on electronically.

3.10pm

The voting is over and the principles are agreed to in the Bill.

It will continue as a special bill.

3.05pm

Primate Archbishop Geoff Smith asked synod to decide whether the principles concerning the Bill are agreed to.

3.00pm

Dr Stead has replied to opposition to the amendment saying, “There is a  delicious irony of this debate that is not lost on me that people from Sydney are arguing for a broader range of latitude while others are being conservative about it.”

This will have no effect on the Wangaratta decision he said. There was no hidden agenda, he said.  He urged support for it.

2.45pm

Ms Carolyn Tan Diocese of Perth laity delegate has spoken against the amendment, citing concern that it takes words of constitution and applies them out of context.

The Reverend Dr Elizabeth Smith, also Diocese of Perth, wants useful, helpful, theological liturgical innovation. Changing it would add nothing helpful. The proposed change while not mentioning same sex marriages would constrain services. She said she opposed it and hoped synod would not accept it.

2.30pm

Dr Stead has said his purpose in moving an amendment to Bill 11 is not to address the same sex blessing issue, rather, “It’s to prevent liturgical iconoclasm.”

2.20pm

The Right Reverend Dr Michael Stead is moving Bill 11 – a bill for the Canon Concerning Services (Amendment) Canon 2022.

This concerns:

That a Bill for the Canon Concerning Services (Amendment) Canon 2022 be
approved in principle.

It is put that

The object of the amendment in this proposed Canon is to ensure that services authorised pursuant to section 5 of the Canon Concerning Services 1992 are constitutionally valid.

2.10pm

This is the original Accessibility statement:

That this Synod requests the Standing Committee to develop legislation to enable
online, accessible participation in meetings of the General Synod to be presented to
a special session of General Synod, held by video conference, at least one year
before the next ordinary session of General Synod

Yesterday it was amended to include consideration of the accessibility of people with disabilities and illness, among other challenges.

2.05pm

The question of Accessibility to General Synod is being discussed. The Venerable Canon Arthur Copeman of the Diocese of Newcastle is asking to have amended the statement regarding Accessibility legislation.

2.00pm

The Diocese of Perth House of Laity delegate, Mr Keith Stephens has moved that the budget be recommitted under 16.3 the motions relating to financial matters.

The initial 2022 budget has now been rescinded to allow that the budget now reflects the funding of the Families and Culture Commission using Statutory Account surpluses.

1.55pm

The General Synod office has recommended the option of using Statutory Account surpluses to fund the Families and Culture Commission to undertake that work.

1.50pm

The Families and Culture Commission, as has been noted previously, has been asked to work alongside 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.

1.40pm

Jenan Taylor here.

We’re back this afternoon starting with the General Synod Office Mrs Bernadette Bateman presenting three options to increase funding of the Families and Culture Commission after the adoption of resourcing requests for that body yesterday.

1:00pm

The presentation and discussion of motions regarding same-sex marriage which were on the agenda for this morning have now either been withdrawn or postponed until this afternoon.

The motions withdrawn included a statement responding to the motion put forward by Archbishop Kanishka Raffel of the Diocese of Sydney which stated that:

Synod, noting that, despite clear support in the Houses of laity and clergy, the

House of Bishops voted not to affirm a Statement of biblical orthodoxy on

marriage:

a) Notes with tears that the breach in fellowship experienced across the

Anglican Communion has now entered the life of the Anglican Church

of Australia; and

b) Expresses its dismay at the failure of the House of Bishops to uphold

their duty to guard the faith of this church; and

c) Calls on the House of Bishops to repent of their decision and reaffirm

the teaching of Christ and the principles of doctrine of the Book of

Common Prayer and the Thirty Nine articles.

Alongside this, the motion to be put forward by Archbishop Phillip Freier of the Diocese of Melbourne regarding the establishment of “a Select Committee to prepare a statement on Marriage, Human Sexuality and Same -Sex Relationships” has also been withdrawn.

The major discussion of this morning centred on the amendment to a bill regarding attendance at General Synod which was presented last night by Elizabeth Culhane of the Diocese of Melbourne. The discussion is focused on the wording of the amendment, which seeks to allow for those unable to attend in-person “by reason of a temporary or permanent disability, disease or illness, medical condition or injury” to attend via videoconference.

The Venerable Jeffrey Coop from the Diocese of North Queensland countered Ms Culhane’s position, saying that as the father of two individuals living with disabilities, he believed that rather than making greater allowances for attendance via Zoom, effort should instead be made to ensure the venue for General Synod was accessible.

Mr Coop spoke of the “isolation” experienced by his daughters at school and sporting events, which prevented them from achieving alongside their peers.

Set for discussion following lunch is a motion to be put forward by The Reverend Associate Professor Matthew Anstey regarding the affirmation of same-sex marriage. The statement seeks to welcome “the introduction of civil same-sex marriages in Australia as providing a state-based way of recognising faithfulness, love and commitment”.

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

Prior to this, the business will continue regarding the accessibility of General Synod to those experiencing illnesses or disabilities which may prevent them from attending in person. This will be followed by a motion seeking to affirm singleness, which is to be presented by The Reverend Dr Danielle Treweek of the Diocese of Sydney, and seconded by The Reverend Dr Rhys Bezzant, of the Diocese of Melbourne.

The text of this is as follows:

General Synod—

1. Notes that Faithfulness in Service was adopted by the General Synod

in 2004 “as the national code for personal behaviour and the practice

of pastoral ministry by clergy and lay church workers” (Resolution

33/04).

2. Notes that in Faithfulness in Service clergy and church workers are

called to take “responsibility for their sexual conduct by maintaining

chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage” (FIS 7.2).

3. Affirms that singleness is, like marriage, an honorable state for God’s

people, in which the fullness of God’s blessings may be enjoyed.

Singleness is highly commended in Scripture (1 Cor 7:8, 32-38; Matt

19:10-12).

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

Thanks, Kirralee Nicolle signing out for the afternoon.

12:24pm

The session has adjourned 6 minutes early.

Thanks for joining in this morning. I am passing the baton over to my colleague Jenan Taylor for the afternoon, but firstly, shortly I will provide a more concise assessment of the morning’s proceedings.

12:20pm

An amendment has just been passed to the attendance bill, which amended an amendment proposed yesterday to change the wording regarding attendance via videoconferencing. If you’re confused, you are not alone.

The bill has now been passed again, but there are further amendments to come at 1:30pm.

12:11pm

Voting is happening over whether to retain the amendment to the bill which was proposed last night, which would make allowance for those with illnesses or disabilities to attend via videoconference.

12:04pm

Discussion is still happening on the amendment to the bill regarding attendance of Synod when one is isolating or unwell, or as Ms Culhane raised, is experiencing another illness or disability which prevents the delegate from attending.

11:40am

So the current word is that one major motion regarding affirming same-sex marriage is still to come, and is set to be discussed today. Not sure how it will fit in before lunch, but we will see how the day progresses.

11:30am

The Venerable Jeffrey Coop from the Diocese of North Queensland countered Ms Culhane’s position, saying that as the father of two individuals living with disabilities, he believes that rather than making greater allowances for attendance via Zoom, effort should be put to making the venue for General Synod accessible.

Mr Coop spoke of the “isolation” experienced by his daughters at school and sporting events, which prevented them from achieving alongside their peers.

11:19am

A member of the House of Laity from the Diocese of Melbourne, Elizabeth Culhane is requesting that the bill regarding attendance at General Synod via Zoom be amended to provide accessibility to those living with disabilities, as she said attendees are unlikely to lie about their physical condition in order to avoid attending in person.

Ms Culhane said that if those who are able-bodied lie in order to avoid attending in person, “we have a much bigger issue on our hands”, as this action breaks code of conduct rules which are already standing.

11:12am

We are now dealing with a bill regarding the presence of attendees at General Synod, and accessibility for those with disabilities or other impediments to attendance.

Not sure at this stage when the same-sex marriage discussion will commence again, as things have become very confused with the withdrawing of statements.

11:07am
Archbishop Freier has just withdrawn the statement previously slated for discussion today regarding implementing a special committee to discuss the matter of same-sex marriage.

Another motion has been withdrawn. This was set to be put forward by The Right Reverend Chris Edwards, and called “on the House of Bishops to repent of their decision and reaffirm the teaching of Christ and the principles of doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty Nine articles,” with reference to the motion which was lost yesterday regarding the position of the church on same-sex marriage.

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

11:00am

Discussion is about to start, so I’m just squeezing in an update about the petition read by Fiona McLean earlier today. We are still waiting on more explanation regarding the statement, but here is the wording:

Noting with regret that on 11 May 2022, despite clear support from the majority of General Synod (including majorities in the Houses of Laity and Clergy), the majority of the House of Bishops voted against Motion 20.3 Statements as to the Faith, Ritual, Ceremonial or Discipline of this Church made under Section 4 of the Constitution,

The petitioners humbly pray that Synod commits to praying that all Members of the House of Bishops would clearly affirm and be united in their support for the teaching of Christ concerning marriage and the principles of marriage reflected in the Book of Common Prayer.

We also request that the petition be read to the Synod by one of the secretaries.

10:25am

We are about to head into morning tea, and the discussion of same-sex marriage will begin again at 11am, so follow here.

10:20am

Discussion is now happening over what appears to be a mystery missing word in the bill relating to the removal from Synod of a bishop or priest. The terms are complex.

The bill has now been passed.

10:10am

Comments are now being made on the removal from Synod of a bishop or priest and what the bounds of that may be.

These topics are jumping around wildly.

10:05am

Primate Bishop Geoff Smith said that it “feels like we’ve done a day’s work already”.

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

10:02am

The Reverend Associate Professor Matthew Anstey is requesting that his motion regarding the affirmation of same-sex marriage be considered as part of the discussion on Human Sexuality.

I understand that this is why Associate Professor Anstey’s previous motion was withdrawn – to make room for the other.

9:55am

One of the motions regarding same-sex marriage has just been withdrawn, along with the motion regarding the treatment of LGBTQIA+ individuals in Anglican schools.

9:50am

Dr Scandrett again, with more information about the following:

“This General Synod requests the Standing Committee give serious consideration to
holding the next General Synod at a suitable but economically priced location in a
regional Diocese.”

Dr Scandrett is proposing that “somewhere that’s a little bit cheaper” be chosen for a location.

The motion was passed, except for one very loud “no”, which brought some laughs.

9:45am

A motion was carried regarding an update to the Episcopal Standards Commission discussion which occurred yesterday. Again, very technical.

9:44am

Dr Laurie Scandrett of the Diocese of Sydney has called for Synod to consider holding the next Synod at an “economical location” in a rural area.

9:40am

A petition has now been put forward to debate the petition by Mr Colgan and Mrs McLean. Delegates were debating whether the petition can be received. It got very technical, so has been put aside for now.

9:30am

A petition was put forward by The Reverend Canon Phillip Colgan and Mrs Fiona McLean of the Diocese of Melbourne requesting that the House of Bishops “clearly affirm and be united in their support” for the exclusive union of one man and one woman in marriage.

9:06am

It is looking like another big day at General Synod today. Kirralee Nicolle here to kick off the day’s proceedings.

9:00am

Further motions regarding the solemnisation of civil same-sex marriages are on the agenda for General Synod today.

At least three motions on the General Synod agenda explicitly relate to the Church’s position on same-sex marriage, one calling for its institution in the church, another seeking to “prevent the blessing of same-sex marriage”, and another calling for the establishment of a Select Committee to prepare a statement to be heard by an online session of General Synod.

The first statement on the topic for the day will be from The Reverend Canon Dr Mark Thompson of the Diocese of Sydney, seconded by the Reverend Jennifer Hercott of the Diocese of Rockhampton. The motion reads as follows:

General Synod—

1. notes that Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference declared that it

“cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions”, and

2. notes that the blessing of same-sex marriages in Anglican jurisdictions

overseas was a key catalyst for the “tear in the fabric of the Anglican

Communion” that has widened over the past two decades, and is likely to

have the same dire and potentially irreversible consequences for the

Anglican Church of Australia, and

3. notes the Majority Opinion of the Appellate Tribunal in the Wangaratta

Reference that the form of service proposed by the Wangaratta Regulation

which permits the blessing of a same-sex marriage is not contrary to our

Constitution or Canons, and notwithstanding this

4. continues to affirm GS Resolution 62/04, that “this General Synod does not

condone the liturgical blessing of same sex relationships”, on the basis that

this is contrary to the teaching of Christ (e.g., Matt 19:4-5) and the faith,

ritual, ceremonial and/or discipline of this Church, and

5. calls on Diocesan Bishops and Synods to take the necessary steps to

prevent the blessing of same-sex marriages and/or unions in their diocese,

so as to uphold the teaching of Christ and preserve and protect the unity of

the Anglican Church of Australia.

This motion will be followed later in the day by a counter-motion moved by The Reverend Associate Professor Matthew Anstey of the Diocese of Adelaide, seconded by Professor Peter Sherlock of the Diocese of Melbourne.

This motion reads as the following:

The General Synod

a) welcomes the introduction of civil same-sex marriages in Australia as

providing a state-based way of recognising faithfulness, love and

commitment;

b) gives thanks for the public witness of Christian same-sex couples;

c) notes the diversity of theological and legal viewpoints published by the

Doctrine Commission, Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage and the Anglican

Church of Australia, and that this diversity of viewpoints is found among

faithful, committed Anglicans who worship in all dioceses of the Anglican

Church of Australia;

d) affirms that marriage is not considered a matter pertaining to salvation in

this Church, as noted by the Appellate Tribunal Wangaratta Reference

[140]: “at many points in time between 1662 and the present day, that

doctrine [of marriage] was changed in response to different

understandings of Scripture, changing perceptions about the respective

roles of men and women, and the need to accommodate the law of the

land …. These changes never signalled that the Church of England’s

teachings expounded during the solemnisation rite were being proclaimed

as matters going to salvation or part of the ‘faith’ of the Church”; and

recognising that in heaven we shall neither marry nor be given in marriage

(Mk 12:25);

e) notes that at no point in the process of the General Synod’s passing of

canons relating to holy matrimony (Solemnization of Matrimony Canon

1981, Marriage of Divorced Persons Canon 1981, Matrimony (Prohibited

Relationships) Canon 1981) was reference made to constitutional

impediments to such, as noted by the Appellate Tribunal Wangaratta

Reference [141];

f) acknowledges the continual evolution within the church, including the

Anglican Church of Australia, of its position on moral issues – such as

slavery, capital punishment, interracial marriage, contraception, the

equality of men and women – and the concomitant absence of any such

moral injunctions in the historic Creeds;

g) considers same-sex marriage as a moral good and a gift to be celebrated,

providing an enrichment of the Christian understanding of marriage and a

witness to God’s grace and love, consistent with the testimony of Scripture

and Anglican tradition as expressed in the historic Creeds.

Further to this, The Most Reverend Phillip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne will be presenting the following statement regarding the establishment of a select committee. This will be seconded by Bishop Matt Brain of the Diocese of Bendigo, which requests the Standing Committee at its first meeting:

  1. establish a Select Committee to prepare a statement on Marriage, Human
    Sexuality and Same -Sex Relationships
  2. and, on receiving the first progress report of the Committee to establish the
    means of convening an online session of General Synod for the further
    consideration of the proposed statement.

Also on the agenda for today is a statement regarding Sydney Anglican schools, also put forward by Associate Professor Anstey, seconded by Ms Ann Nadge, also of the Diocese of Adelaide.

The General Synod

a) acknowledges with sadness the negative publicity in the SMH article, “‘I

am livid’: Anglican principals’ fury at edict against gay marriage” (6 May

2022) regarding the imposition of heteronormativity as a required belief for

Principals and Board Members of Anglican Schools in the Diocese of

Sydney and the deleterious impact such publicity has on the mission of,

and goodwill towards, the whole of the Anglican Church of Australia and

the Anglican Schools Association;

b) acknowledges with sadness that the said SMH news reported that “[t]he

extra clause…took schools by surprise” and that several School Principals

chose to speak “on the condition of anonymity”, indicating not insignificant

concerns regarding freedom of speech, dialogue, and transparency,

values central and intrinsic to the very notion of education and religious

affiliation;

c) notes that such a requirement for Principals and Board Members of

Sydney Anglican Schools to adhere to a specific moral position on

marriage is unprecedented in the history of the ACA and is a marked

departure from the practice of the ACA of individual freedom of conscience

on moral matters;

d) notes that the moral code required by the Diocese of Sydney is a minority

view, held by few Australians, and opposed by the majority of Anglican

teenagers (60% support same-sex marriage, “Freedoms, Faiths and

Futures: Teenage Australians on Religion, Sexuality and Diversity”, 2017),

and moreover, pertains to a matter of ongoing debate in this church, such

that imposition of an obligatory adherence to such thwarts open dialogue,

conversation, and listening to alternative viewpoints;

e) is distressed that this action exacerbates the lived experience of many

LGBTIQA+ teachers, staff, board members, parents and students in many

faith-based schools, in which the church is seen as judgmental, unsafe,

discriminatory, and a source of harm and exclusion;

f) acknowledges that mandating such a requirement for a voluntary

organisation in receipt of public funding jeopardises the public goodwill and

governmental commitment towards educational providers, but also other

public services of this church offered in aged care, disability services,

social housing, domestic violence support and the like.

Also on the agenda for today are the topics of singleness, euthanasia, palliative care, religious discrimination and religious freedom and the war in Ukraine.

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