Anglican Church delays decision on same-sex weddings for two years
Same-sex couples wanting an Anglican ceremony will have to wait at least two more years for a church blessing.
This week the New Zealand and Polynesian branches of the Church held their two-yearly meeting, or synod, in Napier where one of the major items up for discussion was a report entitled A Way Forward, which raised the option of blessings for same-sex couples.
At the 2014 synod church leaders ruled out marrying same-sex couples and upheld the "traditional doctrine of marriage", which defined marriage as being "between a man and a woman … life-long and monogamous".
This prevented same-sex marriages in Anglican churches.
A working group was appointed to write the report, which suggested blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples instead.
These would require the legal marriage to take place elsewhere, there would be no exchange of rings and the pair themselves would be blessed, not their marriage.
Following three days of discussion in Napier this week church leaders chose not to make any decision on granting blessings following disagreement on points of theology.
Instead the synod appointed a second working group, which will prepare another report for the 2018 synod.
Archbishop Phillip Richardson said the church leadership held two views that could not be reconciled.
One interpreted blessing same-sex couples as consistent with the Bible's commitment to love all and a matter of justice. A second group felt they could not bless same-sex relationships because God would not bless them.
He said the church leadership was past the point of arguing as the two readings of scripture could not agree.
Instead the next working group would look at the framework of the church to find a mechanism to allow both positions to exist within the church and retain their beliefs.
Discussion of blessings took place in a publicly excluded conference mode, but on Monday morning members of the first working group presented the report in an open forum.
They said the report was designed to spark discussion and was not a final solution.
They said there was not unanimous agreement within the working group and the report offered recommendations to be debated.