Grafton Synod Indicates Rejection of Both National Constitution and Bishops’ Agreement

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The exterior of the Anglican Christ Church cathedral in Grafton. 2012

The Synod of the Diocese of Grafton, which met this last weekend, has passed a number of controversial motions and heard a question which indicate a walking away from aspects of the national church constitution and the recent Bishops’ Agreement.

As we reported last week, the Synod debated asking the General Synod to introduce same-sex marriage and blessing liturgies. That motion, as expected, was passed along with a number of related matters. What surprised some delegates at Synod was that the following motion was comprehensively defeated:

27. Standard of Worship and Doctrine

That this Synod affirms the authorised standard of worship and doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia as set out in the Fundamental Declarations and Ruling Principles of the Constitution.

The motion was defeated in a vote by houses with approximately 2/3 of the delegates voting against. This represents a rejection of the fundamental position of the Anglican Church of Australia with respect to doctrine and worship. The synod of Grafton has essentially said “we’ll decide for ourselves what our doctrine and liturgy is”. Those speaking against the motion included the Dean, Greg Jenks.

One member of synod observed to that,

Numerous people at lunch time were joking that they are no longer Anglicans and so they can do as they please.  There was an air of triumphalism.

A question asked of the bishop also exposed what appears to be a deliberate move to reject the agreement that the bishops had reached last year at their meeting not to move forward unilaterally on the topic of same-sex marriage:

The Winter Cathedral Newsletter welcomed Ms Roz Rogers to the position of Associate Minister for Children, Families and Youth, it also declared that Ms Rogers is married to a woman.

The agreement between the bishops of Australia states in part: 

The doctrine of this Church is that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. If we as a Church are to change this doctrine to permit same-sex marriage, the appropriate mechanism is through the framework of the Constitution and Canons of the Anglican Church of Australia. Bishops should give leadership in demonstrating trust in this framework as the way to move forward together…

The bishops commit to act within the framework of the Constitution and Canons of this Church, and to encourage those under their episcopal oversight to do so.

In light of the agreement for Bishops to uphold the constitution, and the inappropriateness of licensing a person who at this stage is not married in the eyes of the Anglican Church of Australia:

1. Was the Bishop informed of the Same Sex marriage prior to licensing Ms Rogers?

2. Did the Bishop seek advice about the legalities under our constitution prior to issuing Ms Rogers a license?

3. As such an appointment has the potential to dramatically affect the life of the diocese and the potential to breach the constitution, will the Bishop make any advice received available to Synod? notes that even before any answer is published, the facts underlying the question (which were not disputed by the bishop) indicate a clear rejection of the spirit of the Bishops’ Agreement not to act precipitously or unilaterally in this area.

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Roz Rogers.

    I am the Roz Rogers you have chosen to name in this utterly twisted presentation of what happened in the Grafton Synod. If anyone believes that the Synod rejected the Bishops Agreement, as stated in this blog, you are totally wrong. I am in the eyes of Australian Law, legally married. That is what the Grafton diocese acknowledges, and it has chosen not to discriminate against me because of it. That is it.

    1. David Ould

      Thanks for commenting here Roz.

      I’m afraid I don’t understand your comment. The post does not claim that the synod rejected the Bishops’ Agreement but that the facts underlying the question demonstrate “a clear rejection of the spirit of the Bishops’ Agreement”.

      That you are legally married is not in dispute. Same-sex marriage is contrary to the doctrine of the church and the teaching of Christ is the expressed position of the national church in its General Synod. That you live contrary to that is your own choice. That you have been licensed to a position in the Diocese of Grafton is quite obviously contrary to both that General Synod decision and the spirit of the Bishops’ Agreement and you can hardly be surprised that it raises genuine interest and concern.

      1. J M

        Im LGBT and new to faith in Jesus, I am reading the bible and have no idea what teaching of Christ relates to gay marriage. I’m not from Roz’s diocese but find her ministry inspiring.

      2. Roz Rogers.

        The world is changing, David, and so is the church. The “concern” you mention as your last word, is in some quarters, for sure; but those parts of the church are considered by many to be locked into a position where they simply cannot change and are, therefore, becoming increasingly marginalised by their own distaste for the lgbtqi community and for the now well accepted role of women as priests and deacons in most of this country. You may have relevance in some places, but I thank God that others in far more places in Australia show a more accepting and loving attitude than the Sydney diocese does. You couldn’t pay me enough to live in Sydney, and I know you wouldn’t want me anyway. Your loss, not mine.

  2. Elizabeth Bryant

    Ms Rogers has also been appointed chaplain and Christian Studies teacher at CVAS Grafton.

  3. Kevin Hill

    I was at the synod at Grafton, my name is Kevin Hill. This is also the first and last time that I will blog on social media. I asked questions of the Bishop on Friday night concerning a same sex couple on a cursillo team.. A friend of mine came to me on Saturday morning and told me that he got an ear bashing at the supper time Friday night because of my questions and because of his association with me. I spoke to several cursillistas on Saturday and my reception went from ice cold to polite and welcoming from some..I know one of the men concerned on the cursillo team reasonably well and I respect and admire him I have no distaste or hate for him or his partner, he has his view on same sex marriage and I have mine, but now I know that because my views are different from what is now the mainstream in the Grafton Diocese I will be marginalised as the Gay community were.

  4. James Warren

    We are indeed to love the world as Jesus does, and as Anglicans we’re doing it via the “authorised standard of worship and doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia” based on the theology contained in the BCP and the 39 Articles. I truly and deeply respect Grafton diocese in their very helpful clarification of their rejection of Anglicanism, and of the General Synod and the Bishops’ Agreement. It really is so refreshing & wonderfully freeing for us all to get on with our respective paths. For us Anglicans, there is just so much to get on with in seeking to proclaim Christ’s love from God’s revealed Word.

    Article VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
 Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

  5. linda nolan

    Dear JM, Firstly, nothing is surer than that Jesus welcomes your faith in Him. (I will send this in little chunks with no paragraphs, this old laptop & this blog don’t work together). In the New Testament, Matthew 19 & Mark 10, both Apostles recall Jesus, when asked a question about marriage, replying that God from the beginning of creation made male & female and (God) said ‘For this cause (making m&f) shall a man leave his father & mother & shall cleave (adhere) to his wife & the twain (two) shall become one flesh’. So, Jesus continued, they are no longer two separate people but one.

  6. linda nolan

    That teaching of Christ is why Christian clergy have married only a man & a woman for a millennium, at least. In more recent times (including in Australia since 1788), it has been the practice for Christian clergy, sanctioned by the local authorities, to combine religious & legal marriages in one ceremony. That changed in 2017 when Parliament re-defined legal marriage from “the union of one man & one woman” to “the union of 2 people”. At the same time Parliament made provision for clergy to carry on marrying only a man & a woman and avoid penalty under the Sex Discrimination Act for doing so.

  7. linda nolan

    Parliament’s re-definition left Christian churches with three simple choices. Do they (1) Follow Christ’s lesson on marriage by religiously marrying only a man & a woman & give up the legal side – marriage certificates etc? (2) Hide behind Parliament’s protection from the Sex Discrimination Act & carry on marrying a man & a woman religiously & legally? (3) Prevaricate for 18 months (& counting) & in the meantime choose (2)? It is not hard to guess which choice a truly Christian church would make. I contend also that prevarication invites opportunism which the Anglican Church is finding out to its discomfort, in Grafton & other places.

  8. linda nolan

    At least the Uniting Church has got off the fence. They have written a new liturgy permitting individual ministers to marry same-sex couples in a combined religious & legal ceremony. Whether participating ministers remain fully Christian after ignoring His marriage teaching is not for me to judge. That will happen eventually, but not on this earth. Finally, JM, may I wish you every joy in your spiritual journey. If & when (if not already!) you meet the right person I am happy the two of you are able to marry legally in our country. Regards LN

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