Sunday, February 23, 2014

Congratulations to new Bishop of Waikato & Taranaki
I am not sure if the vieo can be viewed outside of NZ.

The first English woman to become a bishop was ordained in Hamilton today.
Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley today became one of three female bishops in the Anglican Church in New Zealand, and the second to be ordained here.
She also became the first ever female priest trained in the Church of England to be ordained as a bishop.
Dr Hartley could not have taken this step in her home country of England, where the Church is still debating whether it wants to allow women to be bishops.
"They will get there, and they will get there soon, and I hope today will be an encouragement for all those people who are working hard for the ordination of women," she says.
But Dr Hartley says she didn't move to New Zealand to break any glass ceiling in the church.
"This is not a career move or ambition, it is a calling that the church and God had bestowed upon me," says the new bishop of Waikato and Taranaki.
However, she admits it does send a very public message.
"It is significant, it is an affirmation that this is a job that men and women can do equally," she says.
"This is a huge day, this is a life-changing day in many ways."
Dr Hartley would not be drawn on whether gay and lesbian worshippers should be able to be ordained, saying that is something for the Church to debate and decide on.

I am not surprised at her final comment but do note the interest in the media on the matter of LGBT acceptance in the church. We wait until General Synod in May.

My own bishop, whose wife features prominently in the video, holds the same line despite his previous sermons on the matter.
I have already stated that I would not worship in England until they allow women to be bishops which is not much of a threat since I have no plans to visit before 2016 but after the recent deplorable statement by the English bishops I still might only enter churches and cathedrals as a tourist unless there are major developments in that time.

Friday, February 21, 2014

NZ Army shows the way

I am not usually one to compliment military forces but am glad to see this news item in the local paper.

Please take note Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand

As I have noted  the churches are the last bastions of homophobia in this country.

NZ military most tolerant to gay soldiers

New Zealand has topped a new global index ranking armed forces for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender soldiers, with Australia rating in fifth place.
The LGBT Military Index assesses admittance, tolerance, exclusion or persecution of homosexuals to measure 103 armies worldwide, the Hague-based Centre for Strategic Studies think-tank said.
New Zealand topped the index and the Netherlands and UK ranked joint second with Sweden coming in fourth.
The US, at 40th, ranked below Romania. Nigeria came last in the survey.
The think-tank noted that New Zealand had produced a video for the "It Gets Better" project, which reached out to young people struggling with their sexuality.
In the video, introduced by then Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, nine defence force members spoke of being scared to tell their friends and family about their sexuality.
"I was gay, and that was how it was, and it wasn't going to change for me," says a corporal.
"Could I just live with a girl anyway, and still have the kids and the dog and the white picket fence?" says a flight lieutenant.
The video ends with each member saying things get better.
At the start of the video, the NZ Defence Force says it is proud to be an organisation that accepts its LGBT staff.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Yesterday I saw the movie "Mandela- Long Walk to Freedom"
A bit long and one does know how it ends.  I really learnt more about Winnie and why their marriage broke up than any other history from the film.
However I found myself being very angry at the white supremacists in the early part of the film - the insufferable woman who objected to being interrogated by a black legal counsellor and, of course, the police and jailers.  I hoped but doubted they lived to see Mandela become President of South Africa.

I found my anger being redirected to those who would continue to discriminate against LGBT people today.
Coincidentally I found an article today, now nearly 10 months old, interviewing the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam.
He states
“Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience. For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.”

“The possibility of 'gay marriage’ does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people.
“Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage.”

While I hesitate to equate black oppression in South Africa during the era of apartheid with discrimination of homosexuals in Western countries today, I have seen gay friends commit suicide and it is quite clear that both forms of discrimination have been due to Church teachings especially by Evangelicals.

I read that Bishop Holtam, despite his statement, has not been willing to flout the official position of the Church of England.

Similarly here in New Zealand, while most of our bishops would happily see an end to discrimination of LGBT people within the church, most are very quiet in face of opposition from the evangelicals, notably in the diocese of Nelson but also found in a few churches within each diocese eg St Matthew's here in Dunedin.

Today in New Zealand, now in Scotland, and soon in England and Wales as well as Canada and a number of states in the USA there is no official discrimination of homosexuals EXCEPT WITHIN THE CHURCH.

I can no longer remain a member of an organisation where I suffer discrimination.  It is not so much for my own sake, I long ago realised that I had no future within the church despite my aspirations as a teenager and young adult.  I think it is very unlikely I will ever want to be married.  When I was young society, supported and encouraged by the churches, victimised me. Today any young gay person can find acceptance in much of society as long as they stay away from the churches. The churches lament their declining numbers among young people yet clearly reject one group based on their God given sexual attraction.

Much of this comes from those who place a few verses in the Bible above the clear biblical instruction to love. Wilberforce is one of their heroes but they do not follow him.

I have read the Bible almost daily from when I was about 13 until the middle of last year.  I now no longer read the Bible except in church.  I blame Evangelical teaching for any psychological problems I may have, largely overcome but no thanks to church teaching or at least not in evangelical circles.
Evangelicals, whether they be the Vicar of St Matthews, Dunedin, the Bishop of Nelson or the soon to arrive CMS missionaries from Kenya are my enemies and I figuratively spit on them. They are emulating that great apostle of hate, Bishop Peter Jensen.

If they and their kind are able to prevent the General Synod in May of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand from making changes to the church position in regard to ordination of GLBT people and same-sex marriage, I will visit my lawyers to change my will and will seek some way in which I can still receive the Eucharist but no longer openly participate or be associated with the Anglican church.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Thank you Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Finally a clear statement from The Episcopal Church of the USA about the vile laws in Nigeria and Uganda.

The Episcopal Church has been clear about our expectation that every member of the LGBT community is entitled to the same respect and dignity as any other member of the human family.  Our advocacy for oppressed minorities has been vocal and sustained.  The current attempts to criminalize LBGT persons and their supporters are the latest in a series, each stage of which has been condemned by this Church, as well as many other religious communities and nations.  Our advocacy work continues to build support for the full human rights and dignity of all persons, irrespective of gender, race, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability or inability.  To do less is effectively to repudiate our membership in the human community.  No one of God’s children is worth less or more than another; none is to be discriminated against because of the way in which she or he has been created.  Our common task is to build a society of justice for all, without which there will never be peace on earth.  Episcopalians claim that our part in God’s mission is to love God fully, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  That means all our neighbors.

Full Marks to her.

In comparison the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York is barely worth 50% and far too little, far too late.
They were probably, as usual, trying not to upset the GAFCON bishops too much and as usual they were unsuccessful  as is seen in the typical replies from those individuals.

Meanwhile, here in Aotearoa/New Zealand the silence is deafening. I know it is just coming to the end of the silly season when in Australia and New Zealand everyone goes on holidays but we wait to hear something.
I expect they will wait until  the General Synod to be held in May when there will finally be a report from the Gender Commission.
Discovering what is happening in the local diocese, let alone the province, is almost impossible.  I am very fearful the many on Synod who say they are welcoming of LGBT people will be too afraid to upset the fundies and just extend the process.  I am unwilling to wait any longer.

Here in New Zealand the only remaining establishments of discrimination are within the churches. I am finding it more and more difficult to justify being a member of such an establishment.
Depending on the decisions of the Synod in May, I could need to withdraw my support from the Anglican church of Aotearoa/New Zealand including my regional diocese and my local parish.

Unlike many gay brethren who have broken all contact with the church, I would be unwilling to forego regular participation in the Eucharist so hope it will not come to that.

I am dismayed that there is some news that our church will be welcoming visitors from the GAFCON church of Kenya.  It is some bizarre form of reverse evangelism.  It is under the auspices of CMS.
I regret my youthful support of CMS. I have written before how a previous Rector left my parish in Sydney due to his feelings of same-sex attraction. He became the diocesan leader of CMS. The lack of support from that organisation led to his subsequent suicide.

While CMS may have provided some medical and educational benefit in the areas in which it worked, I consider most of their efforts to have contributed to the benighted churches that exist in those areas today.  It is a longtime since I have directly supported any overseas missions run by a church.  I much prefer my money to go to secular work such as Medecins Sans Frontiers.
We have been asked to pray that these Kenyans are granted visas. While happy for them to come to our beautiful land as tourists, that prayer is not on my list.  If they do arrive, I will not be at my local church those days.