As we’ve previously reported, the Anglican Church in New Zealand is pushing ahead with same-sex blessings. A final vote in favour is expected in 2018. In the meantime they have formed a working group (albeit already well behind schedule) and invited submissions.

FCANZ have made one such submission. They note,

Regretfully, we are unconvinced that a single structure can safeguard both theological convictions with integrity, and so have suggested that the best way forward for our Church is the creation of an extra-provincial diocese.

The full submission is available here [pdf].

The submission notes that it is difficult to see two contrary positions as being sustainable within the same structure and thus makes it recommendation to set up an extra-provincial diocese (“EPD”). This EPD could be for either conservatives or revisionists (although I think the underlying assumption is that it will be required by those dissenting from the expected decision of General Synod, especially since in New Zealand ordination vows include submission to General Synod. Then there is this intriguing line:

We consider that it would be preferable for General Synod to bring the EPD into existence, recognising that there are other ways that this might happen. Indeed, even by opening this discussion about structural change, General Synod is offering leadership to the worldwide Anglican Communion as we wrestle with a challenging issue.

or, in other words, “look, this is going to happen whether you like it or not – at least General Synod can make it happen in a good way (and even set a positive precedent as opposed to the combative approach of TEC) rather than force it upon us to leave”.

In one sense the submission, while being a positive contribution to the debate over how to handle this change, is a line in the sand from the FCA.

It remains to be seen what the response will be and whether the working group will accept the recommendations. Questions will also arise as to who the bishop for this new diocese will be. I have had a number of names put to me and I understand that those on the ground in New Zealand have a favoured candidate, but it’s still a way away until those decisions have to be made.

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