Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More on Bishop-Elect Kelvin Wright

In a comment to my previous post Rev Ivan Ackeroff directed me to a news item on Rev Kelvin's attitude to same-sex ordination.

Just before my first visit to Dunedin in November 2006, the Bishop of Dunedin, George Connor, had ordained to the diaconate a same-sex partnered man, Juan Kinnear. The local news was full of the debate. The Three Archbishops of New Zealand had opposed the ordination and there was plenty of criticism from certain sections of the New Zealand Anglican Community. It seemed to be mainly left to the then Dean of the Cathedral to support the ordination in the press.
Dean David Rice is now the Bishop of Waiapu ( centred on the city of Napier in the North Island) so his stand does not seem to have prevented his preferment.
There was loud opposition from the parish of St Matthew's which is located south of the Cathedral and is clearly evangelical. I wrote to the parish telling them I would not be choosing that parish when I moved to Dunedin. I am sure they were broken-hearted, they did not reply.

Apparently Rev Juan Kinnear was ordained a priest a year later with little if any press.
He is Honorary Priest assistant at the cathedral. I may be wrong but think he is an academic at the University of Otago. On my last visit to the cathedral in November 2008, at the Remembrance day service , he was in the clergy procession.

On my first visit in 2006 I chose an area of the city where I hoped to live. As mentioned the suburbs I have chosen are within the parish of St John's Roslyn.
I discovered the priest, Rev Kelvin Wright had a blog and I have been following it. He also uploads his recorded sermons but I have only listened to a few. In November 2008 I also worshipped at St John's and while Kelvin preached that day, a woman presided at the Eucharist.

I was not sure of Kelvin's attitude to same sex ordination but as he had not vocally dissented from the ordination of Juan Kinnear (and he had been Vicar-general of the diocese so presumably his views would have carried some weight)  and his blog showed him to be a moderate within the church, I felt he would at least be sympathetic. He has placed my blog on his blog roll and did comment at least once, so he was not horrified that an outspoken  gay man plans to move into his parish.

In the recent news article, responding to criticism from Juan Kinnear he is quoted
"From my perspective, I am not yet a bishop, have not yet had an opportunity to canvass the whole mind of our diocese on this matter, and would greatly welcome Juan's obviously well-researched opinions on this matter any time he wishes to meet with me and share them.
"Apart from that, I feel I have clearly stated my position and, at this point, do not have anything further to add."

It had previously been reported that he plans to stick to the church's policy, and observe the moratorium on the ordination of partnered gays and lesbians.
But he believed the policy "inevitably will change", as the views of New Zealand society changed.
"Social attitudes change.
I think the church will change its attitude too."

I decided to search Kelvin's archive of sermons especially those preached around the time of Juan's ordination and found on 26 November 2006. Who should be ordained? summarised as Homosexuality and the Bible, and Dunedin's recent controversial ordination.
You can listen to the sermon
Generally he argues that while the Bible condemns homosexuality in Leviticus it also allows slavery, selling one's daughter etc. Women who are not wearing hats are disobeying a Pauline instruction. He explains that homosexuality is not a choice anymore than lefthandedness and that he did not choose to be heterosexual. However at the end he asserts that while the church is so divided on the ordination of gay people it would be better to refrain.  This seems to be the stance he has taken in the press interview last weekend. 

I would ask him, why he, therefore, will presumably ordain women as the same argument can be advanced that it will upset some church members.  I presume he will argue that women now generally have the numbers but not gay people as yet. 

However they did not have the numbers when women were first ordained in the Episcopal church and I doubt the numbers were there when Penny Jamieson became the first woman to run a diocese, the diocese of Dunedin and  under whom Kelvin worked. 

Bishop-elect Wright is so far advanced to the homophobes and misogynists who run the Diocese of Sydney that  I am still happy to move to the Diocese of Dunedin. I can just hope that a time will come, not too far distant, when he will believe there is no reason why a suitable gay person should not be ordained.

1 comment:

Birdie said...

In my experience, every single person who has changed his/her mind about acceptance has done so because of knowing someone or someone's story. It has never been over theological discourse. In fact, once they've heard the stories, people of faith find their own way through their biblical issues.

Perhaps you will be the one to change Wright's heart, so that he can change his mind.