Church's decision on blessing 'too little too late'

Vicar speaks out

SUSAN STRONGMAN
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014
val riches
CHARLOTTE CURD/Fairfax NZ
MOVE FORWARD: Reverend Val Riches said the Anglican church’s announcement yesterday on same sex marriage showed the church was slowly moving in the right direction.

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For Murray Riches, the prospect of being married by his mother in an Anglican church is still a long way off.

After two days of discussion at its biennial general synod, the Anglican church announced yesterday it would begin to look at finding ways of blessing same sex marriages.

There was no indication the church would actually perform same sex marriages.

Riches, 24, whose mother is Reverend Val Riches, regional dean of North East Taranaki, said the decision was "too little too late."

"This is not equality."

His mother said yesterday's announcement was a move forward for the church - albeit a slow one.

"It's definitely positive, because it's a move in the right direction, even though it's small.

"It may feel a very small step for those waiting but it's a very significant step for the church and gives me hope that one day I will be able to celebrate marriage equality."

Her son, however, was less pleased with the outcome, saying the Anglican church's conversation on same sex marriage had been "chopped off at the knees."

"It's an important outcome but it's still disappointing.

"I'm happy that the church has come to acknowledge that they need to be celebrating same sex marriage, but they're missing the point."

He said he took issue with the church making such a "high-level moral decision" without really listening to the voices of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

At the synod, held this week in Waitangi, church leaders discussed a report, released last month, from a commission on gay marriage and ordination.

The report posed 10 options, which included keeping the status quo, accepting different viewpoints on the matter, and the disintegration of the church.

"The General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has decided to explore ways that the blessing of same gender relationships could be part of Church life," a statement said.

An apology was also issued to the LGBT community on behalf of the Anglican church.

"The Synod statement has recognised that over many years it has become increasingly aware of the pain to the LGBT community.

"The Synod has apologised unreservedly for the times actions of the church have contributed to that pain."

Val Riches said she was pleased with the church's "valuable" apology. She said she hoped she would, one day, be able to celebrate same sex marriages.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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