Just as parliaments last for 3, 4 or 5 years terms, so also a synod lasts for two years, with the same elected members.
This, the second session of Waiapu’s 59th Synod, had a sense that it was the continuation of a larger whole. The 59th Synod will be remembered for its focus on issues broader than the church itself.
Of the 10 non-procedural motions, only one dealt with diocesan matters. The rest concerned social or ethical issues affecting the wider community. Outstanding in significance were the decisions relating to church leadership and sexuality.
Synod opened with a eucharist. Given the controversial nature of some motions, Bishop David encouraged members, when rising to speak, to pray: “O God, help me to remember who I am, and who you are, and that my words will honour you.”
Members clearly heard that request. Synod closed, well behind schedule, again with a well-attended eucharist.
As a further symbol of the culture of the weekend, Synod was challenged to donate $1000 to sponsor two young people from the Christchurch Diocese to attend the October Three Tikanga Pilgrimage. The amount raised was exactly $1000, with the generous help of the AAW.
Major Synod motions:
THE ANGLICAN COVENANT
The Diocese of Waiapu affirms its desire to remain a member of the Anglican Communion, valuing highly our common faith, mission, tradition and liturgy.
We do not believe that the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant will enhance the life of the Communion and request that the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui declines to sign the Covenant.
The motion was passed by a very large majority. It had previously also been passed at all three regional conferences.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION & ORDINATION
Given that Waiapu has followed a policy of sexual orientation not being a barrier to ordination; and given that there is not, and has not been, an agreed “moratorium” on ordinations of those in same-sex relationships; this Synod affirms that sexual orientation is not a barrier to ordination, and asks General Synod to move forward with the provision of an authorised liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships to be adopted by dioceses who wish to do so.
The Chancellor reminded the Synod that Waiapu has always been a forerunner in many matters in church life. He noted that at least two previous Waiapu bishops have ordained gay priests.
The Youth Synod discussed this motion and felt that to not pass it would be to dismiss a group in our community who are a significant part of our lives; and that we are called by Scripture to love one another.
All sides of the three-hour debate were well represented. Synod dealt with each clause separately and voted in houses. Both clauses were passed by a large majority.
That Synod, noting the call of the NZ Christian Social Services council to work to build a fairer New Zealand, where income inequality is reduced, and to choose policies where the gap between rich and poor gets closer together, encourages all our ministry units:
i. To gather individual stories of poverty, drawing on the experiences of parishioners and local social service agencies;
ii. To use every opportunity to build relationships with the decision-makers and to inform them with this information.
It was noted that the Papamoa - Tauranga social service staff have already held several meetings and met with politicians in furthering the basis of this motion.
WELLBEING INITIATIVE IN WAIAPU DIOCESE
1. Agrees that we are called to lives that are healthy, spiritually, mentally and physically, and that we need to model this in our common life together.
2. Encourages ministry units to ensure healthy food options are available at all functions.
3. Commits to ensuring that every diocesan event includes some time of physical activity and healthy food options. The motion was amended to include:
4. Agrees to one chocolate-free youth event within the next twelve months. This amendment was a friendly reprisal for a youth motion at last year’s synod resulting in an alcohol-free day at this year’s Clergy Conference.
Suggestions for being simultaneously a missional and healthy diocese include: picking fruit/vegetables for the local food bank; picking up rubbish in public areas; working in a community garden and helping restore properties affected by flooding.
That Synod urges parishes to become Fairtrade parishes and sets becoming a Fairtrade Diocese as one of its strategic goals.
This requires using Fairtrade tea and coffee; also to start using other Fairtrade products such as sugar, biscuits and fruit; to promote Fairtrade during the year and encourage the use and sale of Fairtrade products.
Where the local supermarket does not stock fair-trade goods it was suggested that members ask local supermarkets to stock these goods.
CARBON FOOTPRINT REDUCTION
That Synod adopt a programme of carbon footprint reduction drawing upon the resources available through the Church of England's "Shrinking the Footprint" programme.
The Church of England is committed to a Carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050, with an interim target of 42% by 2020. Good practice is already established in many churches round the country
CHARTER FOR COMPASSION
That Synod affirms the Charter of Compassion and encourages all ministry units to act with other faiths and community groups to break down divisions, and together address the problems of our time.”
The Charter of Compassion includes a “call …to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion, to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate.”