Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Yes and no to the Covenant

Wellington supports all four sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant, while Dunedin says no. 

• Bishop Kelvin Wright: Changing the pattern

• Auckland's motion

• Waiapu's motion

Taonga News  |  19 Sep 2011

The Diocese of Wellington has supported all four sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant, while the Diocese of Dunedin has rejected it as it stands.

After a lengthy debate at the weekend, the Wellington Synod voted on each of the sections in turn.

There was unanimous support for sections 1 to 3, but a formal division was called for on section 4 which deals with dispute resolution.

The voting on that section was:

Clergy: 63 for; 41 against.

Laity: 52 for; 44 against.

One synod member said he counted up to 25 abstentions.

The basic feeling of Synod was reportedly: "We must preserve unity, and the Covenant will help us do that. And we don't want to find ourselves no longer in full communion because we have not signed the Covenant".

Late in the debate Bishop Tom Brown shared his own views in support of the Covenant.

At the conclusion he described the debate as "one of the best I have ever heard in Synod."

But it was not the only high point for Bishop Tom. An impressive citation from the three archbishops of this church was presented during Synod to mark his retirement.

The Electoral College to choose a successor to Bishop Tom will convene at the Convention Centre in Palmerston from March 23-25, 2012.

• Click below to download a full report of the Wellington Synod.


Dunedin unhappy with process

In rejecting the Covenant yesterday, Dunedin decided that Sections 1-3 were useful statements and commitments, but that the process for dealing with disgreement (Clause 4.2) was unacceptable.

Our correspondent reports that little was said in support of the motion, and that only a few voices spoke against the motion at the vote.

The debate lasted about an hour.

This means that three dioceses (Auckland, Waiapu and Dunedin) have decided the Covenant does not fit Anglican ecclesiology, while two hui amorangi (Te Manawa o Te Wheke and Te Tairawhiti) have also rejected it.

Importantly, Maori have their combined synod, Te Runanganui, this November and a tikanga-wide recommendation on the Covenant may emerge from that hui.

As for the Pakeha dioceses, Nelson expressed its approval of the Covenant several years ago and may not offer another recommendation.

Waikato meets from October 14-16 and is likely to consider a formal motion on the subject, as will Christchurch in March.

The Diocese of Polynesia also is expected to bring a recommendation early next year.

General Synod/te Hinota Whanui will consider all recommendations and come to a provincial response when it meets in Fiji next July.

Other Dunedin motions

On Saturday Dunedin also debated a motion that acknowledged disagreements about homosexuality in the church but affirmed that being in a same-sex relationship should not exclude a person from ordination and licensing. 

At the end of a two-hour debate, Bishop David Coles moved an amendment affirming that sexual orientation was not a barrier to ordination but removing any reference to relationships.

The amendment passed on a ballot, despite significant opposition.

Noting the lack of traditional Trinitarian collects in the Lectionary, the Dunedin Synod also strongly urged the Common Life Liturgical Commission and General Synod/te Hinota Whanui to ensure:

• The retention in the formularies of at least one traditional Trinitarian collect for each Sunday of the church’s year; and

• The provision for such a collect for each Sunday of the church’s year in the Lectionary.   

The mover was Dean Trevor James, and the seconder Dr Tony Fitchett.

Synod also moved to uphold a decision in committee about the Anglican ethos of St Hilda's School.

The motion noted with concern that the St Hilda’s School report said "nothing about the special character of the school; or how the Anglican tradition is maintained; or how the Board of Proprietors ensure that devout Anglicans, seeking an Anglican ethos for their daughters’ education, are given preference in the school’s enrolment."

Synod asked the Board to address these matters and report to the Diocesan Council and the next session of Synod.

Auckland Synod

• Click below to download reports of the Auckland Synod.