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affirming GAFCON was also not put and the subsequent motion affirming communion with the Church of England was then withdrawn.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.