26 November 2022

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

Proceedings of General Synod on Tuesday morning. Picture: supplied

5.30pm

The synod has come to the end of the order of the day, and the debate has been adjourned until tomorrow morning.

5.15pm

We’ve had several speakers both for and against the statement relating to marriage that is before the General Synod.

Speakers against included the Reverend Canon Professor Dorothy Lee of Trinity College Melbourne, who said her objection to the motion was that it spoke as though this was the only way of reading certain texts within the Bible.

Melbourne delegate the Reverend Peter MacPherson spoke for the motion, which constitutes Archbishop Kanishka Raffel’s statement and the subsequent amendment.

Referencing Genesis 1 and 2, Mr MacPherson said in these passages God gave the gift of sexual intercourse to men and women for two reasons: to be fruitful, and to be relational. He said the original view of marriage was deeply embedded in the Bible narrative, and that it was good (Genesis 1.31).

There are enough people queuing up to speak that I won’t be giving you a full account of each person’s speech, but instead focus on the key arguments being made. I will try to give you an idea of what Melbourne delegates say if they speak to the issue.

Arguments against the motion have included:

  • That it was critical for the wellbeing of the church that the synod vote against the motion, because marriage should not be an issue of salvation.
  • The church’s view of marriage has changed over time, with the example of changing rules around the remarriage of divorced persons.
  • That adopting the statement would constitute an attack on an already marginalised group of people, and be contrary to God’s love.

Key arguments in support of the statement included:

  • That the Bible teaches sexual relationships only take place within marriage, between one man and one woman, and that the clearest and fullest way of expressing God’s love is to speak this plainly.

Melbourne House of Laity delegate Fiona McLean referenced Jesus’s words that “If you love me, keep my commands”. She said sexual behaviour received a fair bit of airtime in the Scriptures, and that it mattered.

5pm

A fourth proposed amendment to the motion has been voted down.

Delegates are now debating the motion as put, with the one amendment that was agreed to.

On the Zoom, I can see a queue of delegates lining up to speak to the original motion.

4.50pm

We’re back to the original text, after a third proposed amendment was voted down by delegates 153 to 93.

The synod is now discussing an amendment from Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn House of Laity representative Wayne Harris.

This is the fourth proposed amendment, it’s not on the existing motions amendment sheet I have access to, so I may struggle to give you the exact text.

Read more: Ministry wellbeing and development policies endorsed | General Synod, Monday

A key point seems to be that it adds “has traditionally been considered to be”, or “has not traditionally been considered to be” in certain places.

An example of how this would render the statement includes:

  • “The solemnisation of a marriage between a same-sex couple has traditionally been considered to be contrary to the teaching of Christ and the faith, ritual, ceremonial and/or discipline of this Church.”

It also adds a clause saying “this church remains open to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we seek to discern how to respond to the emerging understanding of human sexuality”.

I’ll just remind you of the original text of Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel’s statement, which you can read below.

It has had one amendment carried, which includes reference to the previous position of the General Synod in 2004, and reference to 2017 changes to Commonwealth law which legalised same-sex marriage in Australia. Two other proposed amendments have been voted down.

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.

4.40pm

Melbourne synod representatives Bishop Paul Barker and the Reverend Professor Mark Lindsay have spoken respectively against and for a third proposed amendment to the statement about the nature of marriage before synod.

Bishop Barker said he opposed the amendment, as it was not written well, and the removal of the attribution to “Christ” in relation to the passage from Matthew 19 suggested an attempt to downplay their authority.

Speaking in support of the amendment, Professor Lindsay said the inclusion of the word “currently” acknowledged that the doctrine of the church could change.

Bishop of Tasmania Richard Condie spoke against the amendment, saying what the Anglican Church needed was clarity.

He said including the word “currently” would introduce a notion of provisionality about the synod’s actions, which was unhelpful.

Bishop Condie is chair of Gafcon Australia – or the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (Australia) – part of a global movement, the stated aims of which include promoting the orthodox Anglican faith as set out in a 2008 declaration in Jerusalem.

4.30pm

The amendment has been agreed to by a large majority of delegates, and so has become part of the motion.

Just to remind you, this amendment changed the statement from Kanishka Raffel to include a reference to the 2017 decision by the Commonwealth to legalise same-sex marriage, saying it profoundly changed the pastoral context.

It also made reference to a 2004 resolution of General Synod that it did not condone the liturgical blessing of same sex relationships, recognising that both matters were subject to ongoing debate in the church.

The Very Reverend Katherine Bowyer from the Diocese of Newcastle is now speaking to another proposed amendment.

Ms Bowyer said the amendment she proposed would serve as a middle way, acknowledging what is the case now may not always be.

“What it does do is [acknowledge] currently this is our understanding,” she said.

The amendment Ms Bowyer put would see point 1 read:

  • Currently, the faith, ritual, ceremonial and discipline of this Church reflect and uphold marriage as being the exclusive union of one man and one woman arising from mutual promises of lifelong faithfulness, which is in accordance with Matt 19.4-5: “the one who made them at the beginning the one who made them at the beginning made them male and female”, and said “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”

4.25pm

Sydney representative the Right Reverend Dr Michael Stead is speaking in support of the amended motion, but has made it clear he does not agree with the reasons advocated for by the mover.

The synod is now voting electronically as to whether to include the amendment, details of which are in the 4.20pm post.

4.20pm

The amendment has been lost 91 to 152, so delegates are now again discussing the original motion.

Diocese of Wangaratta representative Dr Cecily Jane Freemantle is now putting forth a proposed amendment. This appears to be the second of three pre-proposed amendments.

The amendments put by Dr Freemantle include a reference to the 2017 decision by the Commonwealth to legalise same-sex marriage, saying it profoundly changed the pastoral context. It also makes reference to a 2004 resolution of General Synod that it did not condone the liturgical blessing of same sex relationships, recognising that both matters were subject to ongoing debate in the church.

Speaking to the motion, Dr Freemantle asked if the Anglican Church wanted to be an inclusive church. She said all people were made in God’s image, and all people should be fulsomely welcomed as part of God’s people.

4.15pm

In a verbal vote candidates appeared reject the proposed amendment, but candidates are now also voting electronically to confirm the result.

4pm

We have had one speaker proposing an amendment to the motion put by Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel regarding the nature of marriage within the church.

Brisbane delegate the Right Reverend Jonathan Holland said the passage in Matthew 19 – used to support the statement as to the nature of marriage – related to divorce, rather than the issue of same-sex marriage.

He said instead it was more valuable to address the principles behind the issue, saying God was love, and that same-sex relationships could display the fruit of his love.

“When we see two people in love … and that love is reciprocal .. Who are we to say they’re not fulfilling the principle of love,” he said.

Sydney House of Clergy representative Michael Stead urged the synod to vote against the amendment, and if they did not agree with the motion as put, to have the discussion, and vote it down.

If the amendment reads the same as in the Day 2 amendment sheet, it reads strikes out “contrary to the teaching of Christ and the faith, ritual, ceremonial and/or discipline of this church” and “is not in accordance with the teaching of Christ and the faith, ritual, ceremonial and/or discipline of this church. It also adds several words to read:

  • “Currently the solemnisation of a marriage between a same-sex couple is unlawful within this Church.”
  • “Any rite or ceremony that purports to bless a same-sex marriage that conforms to the constitutions and canons in force in a diocese of this church from time to time is not unlawful in this Church.”

3.45

Sydney Archbishop Kanishka Raffel has spoken to his statement (below) as to the nature of marriage within the church.

Mr Raffel has said that in Matthew 19 Jesus teaches that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. He said sexual differentiation was essential to marriage, and therefore same-sex marriages did not come within the Christian understanding of marriage.

He said God had designed human sexuality to be expressed in the context of a union between a man and a woman, who had committed themselves to each other in a lifelong and permanent union.

Mr Raffel said the Appellate Tribunal – in its determination as to the Wangaratta Blessing – had found same-sex marriage was not inconsistent with the constitution, but declined to comment as to whether it was inconsistent with scriptures.

“We cannot bless what is inconsistent with God’s created purpose for marriage, to do so misrepresents God, and desperately misleads and imperils those who rely on this teaching in this way,” he said.

The motion’s seconder, Melbourne representative the Reverend Natalie Rosner is now speaking to the issue from a pastoral perspective.

Ms Rosner said the questions touched on were complicated, challenging and painful in many ways. She said she agreed with Mr Raffel’s conclusions, but added that listening to each other, loving each other and praying for each other were vital.

Ms Rosner said the statement was an important clarification of the Anglican Church of Australia’s position, as it related to the state and federal legislation under which the church operated. She said this included the Sex Discrimination Act.

This is a complicated topic, with a lot of both church and secular legislative background, so please bear with us – we’re doing our best to understand and represent both the key drive, and the nuance of speakers’ arguments.

3.30pm

Hello, we’re back. Elspeth Kernebone again bringing you a live blog of the 2022 General Synod.

Anglican Primate Archbishop Geoffrey Smith is asking if Standing Orders be put aside to allow consideration of item 16.8, part of a suite of family violence related issues, which he says seems “uncontroversial”.

This has been opposed by Diocese of Brisbane Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, who said it would be a “travesty” to only allow the motion – which relates to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council – only 10 minutes.

We’re onto 20.3, a statement from Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel relating to the nature of marriage in the Church and in Scripture. For reference, the statement is 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.

It is followed in the synod’s order of business by a motion to adopt a statement relating to unchastity, moved by Diocese of Sydney representative the Right Reverend Dr Michael Stead, and seconded by Melbourne House of Laity representative Seak-King Huang. This was also sent to General Synod members ahead of the event.

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.

These motions are followed by a Safe Churches motion calling on synod to deplore and condemn any disrespectful behaviour, and rejoice in the image of God as reflected in every human being, and a motion affirming singleness as an honourable state for God’s people.

A later motion put by Sydney’s the Reverend Dr Mark Thompson would also see General Synod continue to affirm a previous resolution that it did not condone the liturgical blessing of same-sex relationships, and call on Diocesan Bishops and synods to take the necessary steps to prevent the blessing of same-sex marriages or unions in their dioceses.

3.05pm

Funding for a new Families and Cultures Commission will come from the 2022, 2023 and 2024 General Synod statutory assessment budget, after a vote by delegates at 3pm.

Delegates speak at General Synod. Picture: supplied

It came after an amendment which would have referred resourcing back to the General Synod Standing Committee was lost by a narrow margin.

3pm

An amendment that would have referred resourcing of a new Families and Cultures Commission back to the General Synod Standing Committee has been lost.

The amendment was lost by a narrow margin, after an electronic vote. A total 114 delegates voted that the resourcing be referred to the Standing Committee, a total 127 voted against this.

An amendment has been passed, adding a clause that the Standing Committee investigate opportunities for philanthropic and community funding for the Families and Culture Commission.

Synod delegates will now vote on the final form of the motion.

2.55pm

A “aye”, “nay” vote on the amendment to 16.7 was inconclusive, so delegates are now electronically voting.

2.50pm

Synod is still discussing the best way to resource a new Families and Culture Commission.

Delegates are talking about whether the General Synod either request a recast of the General Synod budget to allocate budget, or, to refer the matter back to the General Synod Standing Committee.

The options for motion 16.7.a are that the synod

  • Requests the Treasurer to recast the General Synod budget to allocate $52,000 to the Family and Culture Commission in the 2022 General Synod Statutory Assessment budget and $186,000 in the 2023 budget and 2024 and 25 forecasts.

Or:

  • Requests the Standing Committee to consider how to provide additional funding for the Families and Culture Commission for 2023-25 without increasing the Statutory Assessment or Special Assessment, including giving consideration to drawing down from the reserves for this purpose.

Part b of the motion is not in debate, it reads that the synod:

  • Requests Standing Committee to apply this funding to staffing and resourcing the Anglican Church of Australia’s prevention and response to family violence affecting its members.

2.25pm

Synod delegates have passed a motion ratifying a new Families and Culture Commission, established by the General Synod Family Commission.

The synod has confirmed the function of this commission is to examine questions that relate to family violence affecting members of the church, the drivers of violence, and the well-being of families and women referred to it by the Primate, the Standing Committee or the General Synod.

It came after some discussion as to whether the motion should refer to families and “women”, “women and men”, or “individuals”.

Read more: Ministry wellbeing and development policies endorsed | General Synod, Monday

Anglican Church of Australia National Family Violence Working Group chair the Reverend Tracy Lauersen is speaking to item 16.7, which relates to the resourcing of the Families and Cultures Commission.

Ms Lauersen has said she understood the burden on churches of paying money to a central body, but some functions were best managed centrally.

Current discussion is about how to financially resource this commission.

Here’s a piece Tracy Lauersen wrote for The Melbourne Anglican in March about how she was approaching the issue of family violence this election.

2.20pm

The amendment has been lost, taking it back to the original text that read “families and women”.

Another amendment suggesting “women” be replaced with “individuals” has also been lost.

2.15pm

We’re back to discussing motion 16.6 relating to the Families and Culture Commission, which was suspended before lunch.

Primate Archbishop of Adelaide Geoffrey Smith is suggesting an alternative way to manage amendments, to make it less confusing.

There was some discussion prior to lunch about the wording in relation to whether it should refer to the wellbeing of “families and women” (the original wording), or “women and men” (a suggested amendment), and possibly one other suggestion.

Bishop of Bendigo Matt Brain has spoken to the motion, saying he believes it should be the original wording. He spoke against the amendment because it changed the underlying philosophy of how the small aspects of life could create

The motion as it originally stood (italics mine) was:

The General Synod, noting the results of the National Anglican Family Violence Research Project, the scope of prevention work outlined in the Ten
Commitments made by the Church and the long-term nature of culture change
a) ratifies the new Families and Culture Commission established by the
General Synod Standing Committee
b) confirms the functions of the Families and Culture Commission to be
I. to examine questions that relate to family violence affecting
members of the Church, the drivers of violence and the well-being
of families and women referred to it by the Primate, the Standing
Committee or the General Synod, and to report thereon to the
referring party and to the Standing Committee, and
II. to make recommendations to the Standing Committee on matters
relating to family violence affecting members of the Church,
violence prevention and the well-being of families and women.
c) confirms that any resolutions at this Synod which referred tasks to the
Family Violence Working Group will now be referred to the Families and
Culture Commission.

2.10pm

Several treasurer’s reports and financial statement for General Synod have been received by delegates.

Diocese of Perth representative Keith Stephens moved items 16.3.1 to 16.3.3, including:

  1. That the treasurer’s report on the financial position of General Synod at 31 December 2021 be received.
  2. That the audited financial statements for 2021, as adopted by the Standing Committee, be received.
  3. That the General Synod budget for 2022 be received.

The motion included 16.3.4 and 16.5, both of which concern budget forecasts, which have been deferred to Thursday for the next finance order of the day.

  1. That the General Synod budget for 2023 be received.
  2. That the synod receives the budget forecast for 2024 and 2025.

We’ve spent about 30 minutes on this motion, with a bit of background explanation of the synod’s finances, as well as some financial questions answered.

A point of interest, in 2021 General Synod incurred a cancellation fee of $178,000 when it was postponed due to COVID-19. In 2020 a fee of $4900 was paid to the event manager. Neither was recovered from insurance.

1.30pm

Hello, Elspeth Kernebone here, taking over the live blog for the afternoon from Stephen Cauchi. We’re expecting a discussion of the blessing of same-sex unions within the church later this afternoon. We’re starting at 16.3 in the agenda for the day: motions relating to financial matters.

12.30pm

Further discussion about the exact wording of motion 16.6- the proposed Families and Culture Commission – and how much its focus on family violence needs to be on just women as opposed to men and women. The amendment “families and individuals, particularly women” seems to be the favoured phase, but that is voted down.

Now “women and men” is the amendment that is proposed (replacing “women” in the motion). But there are a number of speakers from the floor opposing this – the focus needs to be on women as they are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic abuse, they said.

And what about non-gendered people? They also suffer violence, said one speaker.

One speaker from the floor has spoken strongly in favour of men being included in the wording, as 30 per cent of victims are men, he said.

No decision – the debate is being adjourned for lunch. Back to Synod business at 1.30pm.

12.15pm

Keith Joseph, the Bishop of North Queensland, is the fifth speaker from the floor to comment on the Family Violence Project. He has requested material on family violence specifically catering for the needs of Indigenous Australians.

After six speakers, Ms Lauersen is giving her right of reply. She commends the motion. The motion is voted for and carried.

The Reverend Tracy Lauersen speaks to family violence issues at synod. Picture: supplied

Now the next motion, which is related to the last – 16.5 Ten Commitments for Prevention and Response to Domestic and Family Violence in the Anglican Church of Australia. Dr Karin Sowada is moving, and Ms Lauersen is seconding.

The Ten Commitments is a “best practice response” response from the Anglican Church to the Family Violence project, the motion stated.

It was a “harrowing” experience hearing stories from the survivors of family violence, said Dr Sowada.

“We need to begin with lament and focus on the need for cultural change,” said Dr Sowada. “Some diocese have already begun to focus on achieving these goals.”

She added that “men and women are equal in God’s sight….the Bible has been used to justify violence in the home.”

“As a church each one of us can play our part in preventing family violence,” she said.

“We have to own up to our failings….we want to be part of changing the story.”

No comments from the floor about the motion, but there is one in support from the Zoom audience.

One question from the floor in support of the motion, requesting that the word “violence” be replaced by “abuse”. The motion is carried.

Next motion is 16.6 Families and Culture Commission, calling on the Synod to ratify the new Families and Culture Commission established by the General Synod Standing Committee. Dr Sowada is moving, Ms Lauersen is seconding. The Commission will examine questions of family violence affecting Anglicans and make recommendations to the General Synod standing committee.

Some questions from the floor about the finer details of the bill. One request from the floor that the word “women” in the motion be replaced by the word “individuals” as male victims have also suffered. “Men do suffer, they suffer in different ways,” said the speaker.

Mr Grant, in responding to the amendment request, said there was “some merit” in the proposal. However, “it is important that we make explicit the female victims,” he said.

The compromise wording is now “women and men”. But there is further discussion about this – “individuals particularly women” is the latest idea from the floor.

The following motion, 16.7, is requesting the General Synod budget allocate the Commission $52,000 in the 2022 budget and $186,000 in the 2023 budget and 2024-25 forecasts.

11.30am

General Synod has resumed after a 30-minute morning tea. A quick note on timekeeping from Primate Smith.

Time to now focus on the order of the day, 16.4 National Anglican Family Violence Project. The Reverend Tracy Lauersen is moving, the Very Reverend Sandy Grant is seconding.

In the past five years, the Anglican Church has commissioned a multi-study Research Project – the National Anglican Family Violence Project – into family violence and intimate partner violence among both Anglicans and the wider community.

The motion calls for the Synod to note the 28 findings of the Research Project; lament the violence suffered by Anglicans and repent of the part Anglicans have played in creating an environment where family violence went unaddressed; and request dioceses to respond the Project and develop appropriate prevention strategies and pastoral responses.

A video was shown to the Synod detailing the Research Project and the traumatic case studies that were uncovered. Disturbingly, Anglicans were more likely to report experiencing intimate partner violence than the general community.

“What we found out shocked us,” said Ms Lauersen, particularly the finding that violence within the Anglican community was worse than in the general community.

Ms Lauersen said it was “scandalous” that some clergy minimized the violence. She went on detail the harrowing experiences of female victims experiencing domestic violence. Men were sometimes the victims but more often the perpetrators, she said.

Ms Lauersen thanked NCLS Research for their work as well as others who participated in the Project. “We have bravely started in the church to be peacemakers by responding to this problem,” she said.

Mr Grant congratulated Ms Lauersen for her wonderful efforts and noted that there was still much work to do. Primary prevention, “building a fence at the top of the cliff”, was particularly important, he said.

Primate Smith asks for comments from the floor. Unsurprisingly, there’s more than few laity and clergy who wish to address the Synod on this issue – four so far. All are supportive of the motion.

10.30am

Discussion continues on the amendments to 17.9 Bill 9 – A Bill for the Episcopal Standards Investigations Amendment Canon 2022. Several questions from the floor raising concerns about the amendments.

Justice Debra Mullins is fielding the questions and redrafting the amendments in response.

A comment from the floor about “high-profile failures” among Christian leaders in recent years and the failure of the relevant organisation to prevent it.

Bishop Matt Brain from Bendigo raises a comment and then a question. The amendment has a problem, he said – the grievance process mentioned in the bill is too time-consuming. There are already ways of dealing with grievances at a lower level, he said. Are the mechanisms involved in the bill correct or not?

Talk now of abandoning amendment f. It seems discussion of the bill will be adjourned to allow for discussion over lunch. The floor agrees – the bill be adjourned.

Primate Smith has decided to call over some motions instead of having further discussion on bills.

These include 20.1 – Raising the Age of Criminal Responsibility; 23.2 – 30th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women; and 24.6 Doctrine Commission.

24.6 Doctrine Commission, thanking the Commission for its report on the gospel, is passed.

Discussion now on 24.7 – Aged Care and Disability Care, which calls on the incoming Federal Government to develop a “strategic roadmap” for improvement of both these areas. The motion is carried.

24.8 – Federal Gambling Reform is next, calling for – among other things – a ban on all sports gambling advertising on TV, radio and online (at least before 10pm), better regulation of casinos, and a ban on the use of credit cards for gambling. The motion is carried.

24.9 Great Commission calls for a recommitment to Jesus’ call for a Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. The Very Reverend Sandy Grant is moving and Bishop Rick Lewers is seconding. The motion is carried.

24.10 State and Territory Gambling Reform. The motion notes that “Australia has the world’s worst rate of gambling losses per capita” and urges strict restrictions on poker machine use, including implementation of $1 bet limits on all poker machines. The motion requests that the General Synod General Secretary communicates the terms of the resolution to all state and territory leaders and opposition leaders. The motion is carried.

Now adjourned for morning tea. Business resumes at 11am.

10.00am

General business commenced for the second day around 9.25am. Anglican Primate Geoffrey Smith, who is chairing General Synod, went through a list of questions that were raised on Monday and answered some of them – the rest will be answered some time later today.

Time now for notices of new motions. One new motion is support for the Federal Government’s religious freedom legislation and religious freedom in general. It also includes assurances that Anglican schools will respect the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

Returning to the day’s legislation. The focus now is on 17.1 Bill 01 – A Bill for the Safe Ministry Legislation Amendments Canon. There has been a lot of overnight discussion on getting the exact wording of the bill correct – terms such as “actual knowledge” and “recommendation”. The amendments have been accepted but the bill now has to be drafted in a certified copy form.

The bill will not be a special bill, Primate Smith has announced, which should speed the bill’s progress through the Synod.

Next bill up for discussion to 17.8 Bill 8 – A Bill for the Special Tribunal (Removal from Office) Canon 2022. Discussion of the bill will be deferred to Thursday morning, the Synod is told.

Now it’s 17.9 Bill 9 – A Bill for the Episcopal Standards Investigations Amendment Canon 2022. Justice Debra Mullins, who is moving the bill, has stated that some proposed amendments will be added the bill but others won’t.

Primate Smith suggests passing the bill in principle. There is a final call for amendments to the bill and an examination of existing amendments to the bill. Some questions from the floor about the exact nature of the amendments as well as minor grammar errors in the bill. There is a vote on amendment e, which deals with examinable conduct and procedural fairness – it is carried.

Discussion now on amendment f, again dealing with examinable conduct and procedural fairness.

Tuesday, 10 May – 9.00am

Same-sex unions within the church will be under discussion today at General Synod, with two motions put to delegates which affirm marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The issue is named order of the day, and is due for discussion in the day’s final business session at 3.30pm.

Archbishop of Sydney Kanishka Raffel has moved that the synod put out a statement – sent to all members ahead of the synod – that names marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one women.

The statement says “any rite or ceremony that purports to bless a same-sex marriage is not
in accordance with the teaching of Christ”.

Read more: Ministry wellbeing and development policies endorsed by synod | Day 1

The statement has been seconded by Melbourne delegate the Reverend Natalie Rosner.

In full, the statement reads:

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.

It is followed in the synod’s order of business by a motion to adopt a statement relating to unchastity, moved by Diocese of Sydney representative the Right Reverend Dr Michael Stead, and seconded by Melbourne House of Laity representative Seak-King Huang. This was also sent to General Synod members ahead of the event.

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.

Read more: Women, families and same-sex marriage on the agenda for General Synod

These motions are followed by a Safe Churches motion calling on synod to deplore and condemn any disrespectful behaviour, and rejoice in the image of God as reflected in every human being, and a motion affirming singleness as an honourable state for God’s people.

A later motion put by Sydney’s the Reverend Dr Mark Thompson would also see General Synod continue to affirm a previous resolution that it did not condone the liturgical blessing of same-sex relationships, and call on Diocesan Bishops and synods to take the necessary steps to prevent the blessing of same-sex marriages or unions in their dioceses.

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.

Synod will also consider bills relating to safe ministry legislation, the special tribunal, the episcopal standards investigation, long service leave, and a bill for strategic issues, commissions, task forces and network amendment canon, and a bill for the General Synod presence canon.

Among other items of business is a note recognising 2022 as the 20th anniversary of the ordination of the first women as priests in the Anglican Church of Australia.

As put, the motion notes 23 per cent of the 3831 clergy named in the 2020-21 Anglican Church Directory were women, of whom seven were bishops, 397 active priests, and 171 active deacons.

For more faith news, follow The Melbourne Anglican on Facebook, Twitter, or subscribe to our weekly emails.

Share this story to your social media

Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Find us on Social Media

Recent News

do you have A story?

Leave a Reply

Subscribe now to receive our newsletter and stay up to date with The Melbourne Anglican

All rights reserved TMA 2021

Stay up to date with
The Melbourne Anglican through our weekly newsletters.