Same-Sex Motions at Adelaide Synod

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The Diocese of Adelaide has published its papers [pdf] for their upcoming synod, 19-21 October 2018. Before getting to the contentious stuff notes that this is by far the best branded synod we’ve seen so far. We love the use of those primary colours and the clear fonts.

Readers may not be so happy with what’s in the papers. As with many other dioceses, not to mention every other metropolitan diocese outside Sydney, there are motions seeking to provide a liturgical validation of same-sex marriage.


Moved by The Rev’d Stephen Daughtry

Seconded by Ms Meriel Wilson

That this Synod recognise and record that:

a) There are Anglican clergy and laity in this diocese, people in good standing with our Church, who sincerely believe the celebration and blessing of same sex marriages is neither incompatible with the teaching of Holy Scripture or with the will of God.

b) This belief has been arrived at through prayerful reflection and conversation, is informed and supported by much biblical and theological scholarship and takes into account the pastoral and cultural context of our time in history.

c) Anglicans in faithful, committed same-sex relationships have sought and are seeking blessing from the Church to which they belong. They, their families and friends and the above-mentioned clergy and laity, and many in the wider public, are deeply saddened that they are being denied the support and blessing of their Church.

In light of these realities, we ask that the leadership of this diocese pastorally and publicly acknowledge that the Anglican Church is divided on this issue and that prayerful people of good conscience on both sides of the debate are seeking to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in their ministry and the life of the Anglican Church.

We also respectfully request that this Synod relay the outcome of this motion to all bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia and to General Synod.


Moved by The Rev’d Stephan Clark
Seconded by The Rev’d Tracey Gracey

That this Synod, encouraged by the resolution passed recently by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta:

a) acknowledges the widespread national and local support for the recent changes to Australian marriage laws, to include same-sex couples;

b)  commends the pastoral value of the Archbishop authorising a Form of Blessing for optional use within the Diocese of Adelaide alongside, or in addition to, a wedding conducted by a civil celebrant;

c)  requests that the Diocesan Leadership, in consultation with the clergy and laity of the Diocese, investigate the possibility and desirability of a process leading to Diocesan provision for the blessing of civil marriages. thinks that motion 20 is much more clever than 21. 21 is very unlikely to pass given the widespread awareness of the fracturing it would bring about, not to mention the impossible position it would put the Archbishop in given the Bishops’ Agreement. Motion 20, on the other hand, makes no request for such blessings or liturgies but seeks nevertheless to legitimise the position. It’s function is to establish a “dual integrity” in the diocese – that both positions are valid – and is therefore couched in the language of “good standing”, “sincere belief” and “good conscience”.

Those things may certainly be true of people who want to change the church’s doctrine of marriage. But they were almost certainly true of those in the Scottish Episcopal Church who did change their church’s doctrine of marriage. The Australian General Synod called such a movecontrary to the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ“. It’s possible to be in good standing, have sincere belief held in good conscience, and yet still be against the teaching of Christ.

We will, of course, seek to keep readers updated on the outcome of those debates.

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  1. linda nolan

    But for its Title & use of “celebration”, Motion 20 could be mistakenly read as yet another call for clerical blessings of same-sex civil marriages. i.e. Motion 21 put differently. It is, rather, another call for same-sex couples to be married by Anglican clergy. tbc

  2. linda nolan

    One should never forget that Parliament could (I say should) have amended the Marriage Act so that it applied to civil ceremonies only, when it changed the legal definition of parties to “2 people”. I urged Messrs Brandis & Turnbull to do so in the months leading up to December’s legislation.

    Parliament did not do so, hence the ball is firmly in the hands of Australian Christians. tbc

  3. linda nolan

    Do they have the courage of their convictions, as taught by Christ himself, or do they want their ministers involved in implementing a worldly law so at odds with that Teaching?

    This is the fundamental question. Calls for the blessing of same-sex civil marriages will be sorted out in due course, in the meantime they should be seen for what they are – stalking horse propositions.

  4. linda nolan

    Do they have the courage of their convictions, as taught by Christ, or do they wish their ministers to be involved in administering Caesar’s law with its definition of 2 people?

    That is the fundamental question to be answered. Blessing same-sex civil marriages after the event is a secondary issue to be resolved in due course. Calls for blessings should be seen for what they are – stalking horses for Anglican clergy to marry same-sex couples.

  5. linda nolan

    Do they want their ministers to follow Christ’s prescription for marriage partners or that of the 45th Australian Parliament?

    It’s a basic choice which goes to the heart of every believer’s personal integrity & collectively displays, or not, the denominational integrity of their church.

  6. MichaelA

    It looks like these motions were created by people who want to see the diocese of Adelaide go down the same path as the Church of England, and the Episcopal Church of the USA. Anyone who has followed events in those churches over the past 10-20 years will recognise the pattern.

    They may succeed or they may not. But if they do succeed, then it will be necessary for Gafcon to establish alternative Anglican churches in the territory of the diocese of Adelaide, so that faithful Anglicans can worship and witness there without being controlled and hindered by a liberal church hierarchy.

  7. linda nolan

    It need not (I certainly hope it does not) come to a split if ACA state firmly that henceforth it offers stand-alone Holy Matrimony only. IF a split does occur & GAFCON Australia were to provide alternative episcopal oversight of those faithful parishioners wishing to follow Christ’s teaching on marriage, would the alternative Bishop unequivocally endorse stand-alone Holy Matrimony?

    1. MichaelA

      One would hope so, as there seems little point in the exercise otherwise

      1. linda nolan

        Agree. Does David Ould have an insight he could share as to how GAFCON Australia would likely react in the circumstances outlined above?

        1. David Ould

          hi Linda.
          What we’re clear on now is that if any bishop were to proceed with any form of SSB they would face disciplinary measures. We’d then have to wait and see how they were resolved.

  8. marymag1928

    Thanks David for highlighting the discussion of the blessing of civil marriages ( and in particular those of people who happen to be of the same gender) in the recent Adelaide Synod.
    There were two motions. The first, after a very significant series of discussions and amendments, was PASSED It stated at sometimes painful length that there is division in our Church about the blessing of marriages of people of the same gender, we hold this to be self-evident ( to quote another seminal document) …but it was passed on a vote by Orders (…meaning that the Houses of Laity, Clergy and Bishops all voted severally and in favour).

    To be accurate, the second motion was not defeated. Despite a plea from myself (Stephan Clark) as the mover that this was essentially a call for continuing ongoing and frank discussion, the Synod voted in favour of the procedural motion “That we proceed to the next item of business”….which if successful meant that debate would stop. Despite certain passionate speeches the Synod voted to stop the discussion.
    I noted in speaking, that the Archbishop said in his pastoral address that “if we think this issue is done and dusted , we are mistaken”
    It seems to me that little is served by stultifying discussion

    I was some what torn….I rather agree that the combative form of Synod is not the place to discuss sensitive personal and pastoral issues. But likewise …the non-hirsuit Synod representative Clive Conway noted that Synod appear to be the only place where his parish had elected him to engage in such debate. I rather agree.

    And I do indeed agree with the Archbishop of Adelaide that if we think this issue is “done and dusted” then we are kidding ourselves

    1. David Ould

      Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for coming and commenting here, I really appreciate it.
      Can I take you up on something you wrote? While I think the Archbishop is correct in that the issue is not “done and dusted”, what will be gained by further debate? The church catholic is perfectly clear on this topic and the national Anglican church has spoken clearly time and time again, going so far at the last General Synod to pronounce a similar option as “contrary to the doctrine of the church and the teaching of Christ”.

      Surely the agenda for discussion is to open up the possibility of a change in doctrine?

      1. marymag1928

        Thanks David for your comment
        Don’t think discussion is closed, which is what I was trying to engender. We don’t live in a Church in which the General Synod, or the House of Bishops are the sole arbiters.
        I know we are usually not much in agreement, but that’s the Anglican Church.

        South Australians, being free-settlers have a rude independence which says …we will grapple with issues, rather than be told what to do

        I grew up in a North Western English town in which there were 7 ‘C of E’ Churches ..2 were conservative Evangelical, 2 were what was then called moderately High Church, and the others were somewhat Middle (surplice and stole) my own parish was of the latter persuasion. (I never saw vestments until I came to Australia)
        This was just how it was
        My observation( until we emigrated to the Land Down Under) was that they all got on rather well together.

        So I knew an Anglican Church which both differed in emphasis, style and what is crassly called “churchmanship” ( a most unhappy term) and got on well with differing viewpoints, whilst not being required to accept views we didn’t agree with, yet with a respect that others might arrive at different (perhaps wrong ha ha!) conclusions.
        I think this is a distinguishing feature of Anglicanism…acceptance of diversity, tolerance, and generous and a commitment to intelligent interchange and discussion.

        Was a bit shocked by the polarisation that exists in Australia…which is one of the tyrannies of distance, I suggest. We are ghettos in Sydney and Adelaide, perhaps more mixed in Melbourne. And smaller Dioceses…Armidale and the NW (Evangelical)…The Murray, Wangaratta and Riverina, Ballarat …(Anglo Catholic)…and the rest a bit of mix
        This is a specious and inaccurate analysis, but to me is a sadness that we don’t..Evangelicals, Middle Churchists & Anglo Catholics… live alongside each other and allow ourselves to be challenged to love diversity and to be rigorous and loving in our separation.
        This is a naive analysis…but it still makes me sad
        Cheers to you in your wrongness, as also to me in my delusion!


        1. David Ould

          Thanks Stephan. I do agree that the tyranny of distance is part of the issue.
          I’m happy to live alongside all sorts of people, but I’m not happy when those people want us to disregard what Jesus has to say on a certain topic. On this topic Jesus’ words are more than clear. He has no doubt what marriage is.

          I don’t think it’s necessarily naïve to think otherwise but I do, at times, think it’s naïve to think we must all just agree to disagree. As the Apostle so helpfully reminds us,

          1Cor. 11:19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.

  9. linda nolan

    Excuse my butting in Stephen/David, I agree with David on this point. I opined earlier that calls for SSB’s are stalking horses for the real agenda – ministers marrying same-sex couples in church. Achieve the first (ostensibly) harmless goal which eases passage of the real McCoy. If blessing civil marriages in church was so pastorally appealing, the Church would have written a liturgy for it long ago. If local Synods cannot wait for General Synod or the Law Commission’s report, they should get on & debate the real issue – do we follow Christ’s teaching on eligible parties to a marriage by offering Holy Matrimony only, or do we compromise our integrity by continuing to combine civil & sacramental solemnisations in the one church service?

    1. marymag1928

      As you will note from my previous responses, I don’t believe in infallibility.
      Certainly not the infallibility of the House of Bishops who discuss serious issues without consulting the rank and file laity, or the rank and file clergy.
      I don’t believe in the infallibility of the General Synod which is legalistic and political…and again doesn’t bother to consult the average Anglican person and/or priest
      I just don’t think this is the Anglican way.
      We are a pluralistic Communion which needs to learn to live with diversity in a way that says “I don’t agree with you…but I defend to the death your right to express difference”
      AND this implies a commitment to seriously continuing dialoguing

      I DO NOTE that the strategy in the Synods of Brisbane , Melbourne and Adelaide . was not to encourage further discussion….but to STOP discussion.

      Personally I don’t wish to belong to a Church which STOPS discussion
      This is not Anglicanism.

      I personally think OLGYS* . thinks we are just a bit thick.
      and don’t get it
      OLJC apparently had similar idea about his disciples

      Take care and much respect across our traditions

      OLGYS Our Lord God Yahweh Sabaoth

  10. linda nolan

    Stephen, no doubt He’s right about us being little thick. I spent (misspent) some of my youth working in Leeds alongside a number of Scouse before coming home. I loved their humour, your’s is still apparent, a good thing! Nothing wrong with talking but one day soon we will have to front the real issue. Thanks

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