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"Huge day" for struggle of GLBT Anglicans

Wed 7 Sep 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News

Bishop Ross Bay's statement has delighted St-Matthew-in-the-City A liberal Auckland Anglican congregation is rejoicing after a Diocesan bishop made the ground-breaking statement that he would be willing to discern and ordain GLBT candidates for ordained ministry, including those in committed same-sex relationships. In an address over the weekend, Bishop of Auckland The Right Reverend Ross Bay pointed out that the ordination of people in same-sex relationships remains a matter of debate and concern within the Communion as a whole and the member provinces. "As the bishop, I am very conscious that this diocese has not done its work effectively in engaging around this issue," he says, adding: "We have failed to find opportunities to debate the issues around same sex ordinations with openness and honesty." Bishop Bay says he will not take a personal stand on the issue, but is willing to facilitate the church's deliberations and offer leadership. "I will therefore be clear that should the appropriate basis for change be found within the church, I would be willing to proceed with such ordinations within this diocese," he says. The forward-thinking Auckland church St-Matthew-in-the-City is running a campaign for equality in the church, and its vicar Reverend Glynn Cardy says the statement marks a huge day in the ongoing struggle to end discrimination against GLBT members of the Anglican Church. "Never before has an Auckland Synod so clearly, overwhelmingly, and emphatically endorsed the being, relationships and ministry of its gay and lesbian memberships," he says. "We thank him for his courage in doing so," he continues. "It is not diminished by his qualification of that support by saying, 'should the appropriate basis for change be found within the church - namely some level of agreement in the House of Bishops and an understanding of, or change to, our Canon Laws that would permit this." Mr Cardy says for what is believed to be the first time, the Diocesan Synod had a long, thorough and civil debate on the issue thanks to Bishop Bay allowing it space to test the mind of the diocese. The motion [as amended with clauses 3, 4, and 5] presented by Glynn Cardy and seconded by Margaret Bedggood—both of St Matthew-in-the-City—read: "That this Synod [1] Holds that sexual orientation should not be an impediment to the discernment, ordination, and licensing of gay and lesbian members to any lay and ordained offices of the Church; and further [2] persons in committed same-sex relationships likewise should not be excluded from being considered for discernment, ordination, and licensing to any lay and ordained offices of the Church. [3] commits to an intentional process of listening to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, organized by the Archdeacons in consultation with the gay and lesbian community. [4] commits to an ongoing discussion with the ministry units, asks the Archdeacons to facilitate this, and invites responses to those discussions to be submitted to Diocesan Council by 31st March 2012; and [5] commits to support the process and work of the Commission to be appointed by General Synod Standing Committee, as resolved at its meeting in July 2011." This motion was put in parts, and members voted via a paper ballot. The most contentious clause, [2], passed by nearly a two-thirds majority. The rest passed overwhelmingly. One gay member of the House responded, "for the first time, after all these years, I feel affirmed by my Church." Another noted "this has drawn a line in the sand that has not been drawn before, and we will never go back". One Anglican same-sex couple upon hearing the vote thanked Mr Cardy and the many others involved in presenting this motion, "We have been told countless times that we are the Body of Christ. For too long now we have felt like an amputated limb." After the vote, Mr Cardy wished to express St Matthew-in-the-City’s "appreciation to LGBT Anglicans who have stuck with us, or prayed for us 'outside the gates.'"    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 7th September 2011 - 9:34am

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