The Primates' Small Working Group charged “to consider possible structural arrangements within our Three-Tikanga Church to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships ” met late December in Auckland.
The Working Group is to be convened by the Reverend Katene Eruera who is the Dean of Tikanga Maori at St John’s Theological College. Members include former General Secretary and Community Lawyer Mrs Jackie Pearse , Bishop of Nelson the Right Reverend Richard Ellena , Vicar of Massey Anglican Church in Auckland the Reverend Learne McGrath , Chancellor of the Diocese of Christchurch Mr Jeremy Johnson , and Mr Fei Tevi , diplomat and development expert currently based in Port Vila and working as a consultant to the governments of the Solomons and Vanuatu. The General Secretary the Reverend Michael Hughes will support the work of the Working Group and the Primates will be available throughout their work.
At this meeting the Working Group:
- reviewed the very specific nature and scope of their mandate as set out in the General Synod Te Hīnota Whanui 2016 Motion 29,
- began reviewing the 26 submissions already received from individuals and groups around the Church, and
- established a work plan and timetable to enable them to meet the deadline set by General Synod Te Hīnota Whanui of presenting their report to the Primates by 1 July 2017.
The Working Group will use expert advisors from across the Church and beyond as necessary.
The Working Group will write to the various interest groups identified in the Primates letter to the Church of 30 August 2016, asking them to identify a link person to be the point of contact to ensure that Working Group ideas can be explored with the wide range of viewpoints on the task before the Working Group.
The Working Group will communicate regularly on their work to the Primates, the General Synod Standing Committee, the Bishops and the wider Church over the next seven months.
On behalf of the Primates, Archbishop Philip Richardson assured the Working Group of the constant prayers of the whole Church for their work and of the Church’s commitment to provide the resources needed to complete their task.
May the God who loves us beyond all measure strengthen and guide each member of the Working Group,
Grant wisdom, discernment and grace in all their workings,
and may the compassion, humility and grace of God
weave us all ever more closely into the purposes of God. Amen