The Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton, meeting this weekend 21-23 June, is to debate a motion asking the General Synod to implement same-sex marriage.

The full text of the motion, proposed by Dean Greg Jenks, is

24. That this Synod encourage the 2020 General Synod to adopt optional provisions for the blessing of civil marriages as well as an optional liturgy for the solemnization of Holy Matrimony where the parties to the marriage are of the same gender.

Moved: The Very Reverend Greg Jenks

Seconded: Canon Lee Archinal

Other related motions include a more general “Affirming of All God’s People with Radical Hospitality” (Motion 23) which states that “God affirms the goodness in the gender and sexual identity of all people” (although davidould.net suspects they don’t actually mean all people since there must be some sexual identities that Grafton Diocese is not yet ready to affirm).

There is also a motion (28) on “Conversion Therapy”, similar to that seen in other Dioceses calling for a blanket ban. We’ve written about that type of motion before.

The motion on same-sex marriage is the next contribution to a delicate political situation in the Anglican Church of Australia. As reported on davidould.net, the Standing Committee of the General Synod has recently called for a “Special Session” in 2020 that will be minimal in nature. This is widely seen as an attempt to avoid any decisive voting on the topic of same-sex marriage, although space is currently scheduled for a more open discussion on the subject (albeit without motions).

Why might such a delay be called for? The consensus opinion amongst those davidould.net has talked to is that theological liberals know that they currently don’t have the votes on the floor of General Synod (as evidenced by the robust orthodox motions in 2017). A vote on the main issue in General Synod would almost certainly be lost. Thus many will, presumably, seek to achieve their goals in different ways (including through the Appellate Tribunal – the method by which General Synod was bypassed on the question of women bishops). There is always still the possibility of a diocese acting unilaterally.

Where does the Grafton motion sit in all of this? Taken at face value it appears to be an attempt to put the matter at General Synod and to honour the agreed process of the bishops to settle this matter within regular the constitutional processes of the national church. However, those behind the Grafton motion will also be clear that they cannot achieve their goals through General Synod. So to what end this motion?

davidould.net thinks that what the motion achieves is a clear statement in support of same-sex marriage for the diocese that does not, however, require its own bishop to act (other than to put the motion “as requested” at General Synod). Were that motion then to fail (as it surely would), the diocese might then be able to argue the pressing necessity of a local option, having already established momentum for it. Bishop Murray Harvey can keep his hands relatively clean in the process and yet still have something substantial to present at the national level.

The full Motions and Questions document is embedded below:

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4 comments on “Grafton Synod to Debate Provision of Same-Sex Marriage Liturgy

  1. Drip, drip, drip & the stone wears away.

    The ACA hierarchy are paying for their absence of spine & surfeit of hubris. Early in 2018, following Parliament’s December 2017 re-definition of civil marriage in Australia as the union of “2 people”, was the time to state plainly that our Church offers marriage solemnisations in accordance with Christ’s definition not Parliament’s & that consequently ACA clergy would no longer double as civil marriage celebrants.

    The hierarchy’s delay has enabled the genie to flee the bottle & it will never be put back by churchmen.

    • I’m with you Linda! This, plus the demoralising religious-leader conduct contributing to the Royal Commission re Child Sexual Abuse (both causes & responses – even re redress) and then much (not all) of the religious-leader conduct in evidence, plus the poor quality of church-led discussion for the marriage amendment plebiscite, means I have never felt so disheartened, so let down by the church institutions I have called Home throughout my life. And I agree with you re churchMEN – interesting that it is still largely men who run the show, now and then to set up these past problems.

      You & I have both advocated for some time for the course of action you outline here. And nobody seems to engage with the argument you put – with an alternate view?

  2. Dear Linda and Geoff: It is interesting how these churchmen and others have swallowed the pagan myth that reality is what Government says it is. I would also draw attention to the lack of sympathy of these self-serving careerists as well as so many quiescent Christian citizens for the young woman and her fiancĂ© who seek to begin a husband-wife marriage in a civil ceremony that includes the Government’s promise to them of unambiguous and unequivocal public-legal respect for their husband-wife union. Take care and preach the Good News in season and out of season.

  3. The revelations about certain Anglican clerical criminality, which came out of Hobart and Newcastle in the Royal Comm. were horrendous. In Newcastle, an entire diocese was evidently wrested from its bishop’s hands, by certain Anglican worthies. As he testified, he was made to feel unwelcome in his own cathedral! One has to wonder if the next generation of Anglicans in Australia, if there is one, shall be sanguine with same sex marriage being celebrated in our Aussie version of Anglicanism. “The professor did warn us, to never make assumptions.”

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