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SWG positive about Way Forward

The working group charged with finding “structural arrangements” to allow those with clashing convictions on same-gender blessings to stay together in the same church is optimistic about where it’s at. 
• The January 2017 report
• The first report - the full text  

Taonga News   |  08 Feb 2017  |  2 Comments  

After two meetings, the group charged with finding “structural arrangements” to allow those with clashing convictions over same-sex relationships to stay together in the same church is optimistic.

The six-person Way Forward Small Working Group (SWG) has just released a brief communique following its second meeting in Auckland late last month.

This notes that “The SWG are very positive about possible structures and mechanisms for a way forward, which will respect the integrity of those who hold differing convictions on the current matters of disagreement.”

The convenor of the group, the Rev Katene Eruera – who is the Dean of Tikanga Maori at St John’s College – later spoke with Taonga about how things are shaping, as the SWG works towards its July 1 deadline for delivering “a proposal (or set of proposals)” for the church’s consideration.

“We can offer something...”

“I think the group is very positive,” he said, “about working through the information it has received from the people who’ve provided submissions, looking at what other provinces in the Communion have considered, and talking with one another.

“At this stage of the process, we are very positive that a way forward can be found – that we can offer something back to the wider church to consider that would meet its goals, its desire to stay together.

“With nobody left feeling that they have to compromise their convictions, their treasured views, their deeply-held beliefs.”

At its January 26 meeting, the SWG completed reviewing the 26 submissions it has received.

A number of these submissions included ideas for structural safeguards, and at its next meeting – on March 22 in Auckland – the group will attempt to corral what it sees as the best and most practical of these suggestions into a draft proposal which, after evaluation and any necessary tweaking, will be presented to the Primates.

Rev Eruera says the SWG – which comprises Jackie Pearse, Bishop Richard Ellena, Rev Learne McGrath, Jeremy Johnson, Fei Tevi and Rev Eruera – is working well together.

“I think we’re probably mature enough,” says Katene, “to realise that the task we’ve been given is something where we need to actually get on with it, for the sake of the synod and the church. We understand what’s at stake.”

Timeline refresher:

May 12 2016:

General Synod tables the A Way Forward report and its proposed legislation until the 2018 meeting of General Synod “with a firm expectation that a decision to move forward will be made” (then).

Motion 29 also called for the setting up of another working group, with a narrow mandate: “to consider possible structural arrangements within our Three-Tikanga Church to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships.”

It also calls for the working group to report by July 1, 2017.

August 30, 2016:

The Primates’ broadcast a letter to the church, which calls for the establishment of a panel of consultants to accompany the as-yet-unnamed working group. This panel is intended to represent the “range of positions and views which cannot be adequately represented in a working group.”

The various stake-holding groups are asked to nominate link people who will liaise with the working group. These link people are invited to contribute suggestions and constructive criticism as the working group considers potential models. They will also be invited to bring feedback to the draft proposal from their constituencies.

October 26, 2016:

The members of the small working group are named: They are: Rt Rev Richard Ellena (Bishop of Nelson); Jackie Pearse (lawyer and former General Secretary); Rev Learne McGrath (Vicar of Massey, Auckland); Jeremy Johnson (Chancellor of the Diocese of Christchurch); Fei Tevi (Diplomat and development consultant) and Rev Katene Eruera (Dean Tikanga Maori at St John’s Theological College).

December 21, 2016:

The small working group meets for the first time in Auckland.

To read the communique of that meeting, click here.

January 26, 2017:

The small working group meets for a second time, again in Auckland.

To read the communique of that meeting, click here.

Comments

Ronnie Smith

Good work so far by the Working Group.

Here's hoping they don't make the same mistake as those producing the 'Bishops' Report' to the current C. of E. General Synod, which was rejected by the house of Clergy for its unwillingness to Move Forward on this issue.

rosemary Neave

Glad to hear positive news of this. BTW are there any LGBTI voices represented on the group.