On Saturday, as mentioned earlier, I attended a meeting at the St James Institute on "Do Australian Anglicans have a future?" It was led by Bishop Tom Frame who was Bishop to the Australian Defence Force but is now Director of St Mark's Theological Centre. He seemed to be glad to have relinquished the role of a Bishop.
He had some interesting things to say about where he thinks the church will be in 2028. He thinks there will be 3 types of Anglican churches.
1. Mega churches (already one in Castle Hill, Sydney and another somewhere in Melbourne) with over 10 on staff and more than 750 parishioners. Exclusive in outlook so I won't be there.
2. Urban/regional churches with 2 on staff and 100 to 750 , inclusive and welcoming, I guess like St James, King Street today so obviously my choice except I will probably be in a nursing home by then :-)
3. Small house churches with honorary staff and less than 50. I do not think I would like these. I gain much benefit from liturgy, processions and choirs.
I did not like Bishop Frame's comment that we should consider the plight of African churches having to live with Islam. It seemed to be this common idea of supporting them at the expense of the many GLBT people in the west (and also in Africa?)
I am afraid Lambeth will leave us in much the same position as at the end of the previous one in '98. TEC and Canada may not accept that and go its own way but most dioceses in Australia (obviously not Sydney) will claim they are inclusive of all people including GLBT but we will remain 2nd class members who cannot be ordained while in an open relationship and whose relationships cannot be blessed. That, to me, is unacceptable.
New Zealand, on the other hand, is much more welcoming. I know for certain that some parishes in the Diocese of Auckland bless same-sex relationships and the Diocese of Dunedin has ordained a man living in a same-sex relationship.
Just a week before I last visited Dunedin in 2006, Bishop George Connor had ordained as a deacon Rev Juan Kinnear, a man who was living in a same sex relationship. There was a great amount of press about this and it was opposed by some evangelicals within the diocese and a group of evangelicals from the neighbouring Diocese of Christchurch. Although some of the NZ bishops had reservations, they did not oppose it but I had understood there was a moratorium on his further ordination to the priesthood. I am glad to now find (in the NZ gay press, not the Anglican) that his ordination as a priest occurred late last year without any publicity. He is an honorary associate priest in the cathedral. More research has found the following statement from Juan about his first ordination as a deacon.
Part of his statement follows:
The Diocese of Dunedin has a long established practice of welcoming suitable, committed Christian homosexual men and women into ordained ministry. What occurred on 4 November 2006 is no recent innovation, but a continuation of the diocese’s refusal to exclude gay men and women from full participation in the life of our Church. The locus of authority within Anglicanism is the diocese and its bishop. Overarching questions about how theological divergence can be reconciled with the notion of a Church Catholic are unlikely to be resolved by the creation of an Anglican magesterium or the implementation of a Covenant with which to beat up those with whom we disagree.
I often wonder what life would be like in an ideal world. Perhaps we would all be happily married, with two girls and a boy, a Labrador and a Volvo station wagon in the driveway. Who knows? What I do know is that we do not live in an ideal world and that, for better or worse, we are required to do our best, be as faithful and committed as we possibly can and live as joyfully as our circumstances allow. I also know that my sexual orientation is not subject to change by prayer or self discipline. I believe that I am not alone in this. So, I contend myself with the belief that I am saved by grace and called to continually seek sanctification. I thank God that I share my life with someone who cares for me with all his heart. I am committed to work for the Gospel and to be Good News to those around me. Where I fail, and I fail continuously, I ask for strength to continue on and to do better. A sinner yes, but never, ever do I buy into the idea that I am “dirty” or that my life has to be confined by a cage of words, authored by those who choose to stand in judgment over me. Joy and life in abundance!
When(If?) I move to Dunedin, I think I will worship at the Cathedral but I have found the blog of the Vicar of the parish, St John's Roslyn, in which I hope to reside (Available Light). He has just had an operation for cancer and is returning to work on Monday. His post on Gafcon is interesting but a bit of the middle way I discern in Australia (outside Sydney).
"As our church divides, as it surely must despite the Gafcon hand waving, which side do I go with? The liberal rump, now unfettered by conservative reticence? You've got to be kidding! The Gafcon conservatives, with their stifling self perceived certainties? No thank you! I have about ten years to go before retirement. Perhaps if I hunker down in St. John's Roslyn and pay all that stuff no mind, I might just make it through before I have to make that sort of choice."
I feel happier reading the comments of Bishop Gene and am thankful for the wonderful, thought provoking blessing from him (below) for which I thank Boocat. My first attempt at placing a video in my blog.