This past weekend saw synods in the metropolitan dioceses of Melbourne and Adelaide here in Australia. We’ve previously reported on the proposed motions there (Melbourne, Adelaide) to provide for blessings of same-sex marriages contracted by civil celebrants. As is becoming clear, these motions are part of a coordinated campaign across the whole country.

In both Melbourne and Adelaide those motions failed to pass, both falling to a “not put” motion (i.e. the synod agreed by a vote that the motion “not be put”) after debate (in fact, after only three speeches in Melbourne). This is an effective way of shelving the motion without a definitive vote against. It’s a political move to avoid some loss of face all around or when the synod decides that the topic is too contentious to come to a clear decision upon.

What this now means is that across the country, except for one diocese (Wangaratta) there has been a failure in the campaign to get a positive vote for same-sex blessings. Of the remaining dioceses, the only places where there is a realistic possibility of a “yes” vote are Newcastle and Ballarat. Both bishops (Stuart and Weatherill) are known supporters of a change in the church’s position on this topic (Peter Stuart telling last year’s General Synod that the church’s doctrine of marriage was “not yet fixed”). Those dioceses, alongside Wangaratta, will now be under real pressure not to take further action that would place them outside of the growing consensus in the national church established both at General Synod and in the diocesan synods.

In other results, the Melbourne motion affirming GAFCON was also not put and the subsequent motion affirming communion with the Church of England was then withdrawn. The later motion against “gay conversion” was passed albeit with substantial amendment.

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4 comments on “More Same-Sex Blessings motions fail to pass in Australian Synods

  1. A slight correction: the Melbourne motion affirming communion with the Church of England was withdrawn by the mover, rather than “not put”.

  2. It is pleasing to read that most ACA local synods have come to the conclusion that blessing same-sex civil marriages in church is not a good idea, I assume because to do so would give the impression that Christ’s teaching on marriage is not to be taken seriously in their parishes.

    It is noteworthy that David Ould correctly uses the term “contracted” to describe the relationship entered into by all Australian couples using the Marriage Act. It is also correct to note that, ever since European settlement, Church and State have agreed that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Hence Australian church weddings have always combined civil (legal) & sacramental solemnisations. (So much for the vaunted “separation” of C&S). TBC

  3. If Parliament had been honest with the public they would have admitted that the advent of same-sex marriage spelt the end of the agreement. But they left that for the churches to sort out.

    What local Synods & the next General Synod need to resolve is the real issue – does ACA pull itself out of the Marriage Act by offering sacramental marriages (Holy Matrimony) only, or not? Without resolution of this fundamental issue there will be no end to the current strife.

    We have no need of splitting as per Scotland, New Zealand, etc. Perhaps their marriage laws are/were not conducive to the straight-forward remedy available to Australian churches.

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