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NZ Anglicans split on gay issues

Wed 10 May 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

Maori and Pacific Island Anglicans are refusing to openly discuss the ordination of gays and lesbians, at the Anglican General Synod, which began in Christchurch yesterday. Despite this, a motion has been tabled at the meeting, urging Anglicans to continue dialogue on gay issues. Tauranga Vicar Edward Prebble, who tabled the motion, said he believed it was important to press on with discussions on gay issues. "There are some conservatives who would shut down the debate and decide right now, but we have to keep talking and make sure both ends of the spectrum are listening," Prebble said. "We need to keep the broad middle ground rather than retreating to fixed positions, so that regardless of our own views we respect the integrity of others." The motion does not suggest any changes in current church policy, but merely encourages dialogue. So far, Maori and Pacific island delegates have refused to discuss an Anglican Church report, the Windsor Report 2004 which questions the church's principles and the Anglican community's diversity, said church spokesperson, Lloyd Ashton. "The debate is intensely political and a great schism is possible worldwide," said Michael Grimshaw, a lecturer in religious studies at the University of Canterbury. "The power basis in churches is shifting, with liberals in retreat and a large conservative push in all churches worldwide. It is split along races and cultures, too, and in New Zealand, Maori and Pacific Anglicans are more conservative." Grimshaw believes the church will arrive at a 'pragmatic compromise' to risk splitting, and notes that any decisions taken at the synod "will affect the wider Anglican community," as well as having "international implications." Worldwide, the Anglican Church is facing a growing debate over the role of gays and lesbians, and how best to minister to them. In the United States, the appointment of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson as head of New Hampshire's Episcopal (Anglican) Church three years ago sparked outcry and fierce debate within the church. And just last weekend, three gay candidates for the diocese of California were passed over in favour of a heterosexual bishop, Mark Andrus.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Wednesday, 10th May 2006 - 12:00pm

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