Month: May 2014


Fountain - Marcel Duchamp

Yesterday the church passed a motion at our General Synod that actually has a name it is called  A way forward – He Anga Whakamua – Na sala ki liu. It provides as way forward for the blessing of same-gender relationships. You can find it here –

We are now assessing the work. What might we say? ….

Beauty is a funny thing. It is so hard to convince another that what you see is beautiful. It is often said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’

I think the Anglcian Church that I belong to may have done a beautiful thing yesterday. I am not sure. Perceptions around time might be a key part of the assessment.

I used to live on Waiheke Island before the Fastcat ferry service. On a bad day you would get the old Baroona Ferry rather than the Iris Moana. This meant another twenty or so minutes added on the journey and close to three times as long as it takes today on the Fastcat. Sometimes the time it took on the beautiful old Baroona was greeted with only groans.

The hard thing for a good many friends of mine is that the change towards blessing of same gender blessings is just going to take too long. The desire is for faster change. For good or ill, the Anglican Church is the Baroona. It only goes so fast.

Yesterday we came to an agreement about seeking a way to hold our church together while also anckowledging that we have two distinct and opposing views about same-gender relationships. But ‘agreement’ makes it sound cheap – an exchange of goods, of marbles in the playground. Will it be just an exchange of beads and blankets or a gift that holds grace? I hope and pray that it is the latter. It felt like that in the midst of our life at Waitangi.

We all know that art works can be as absurd as Marcel Duchamps’ ‘Fountain.’ Where the ‘work’ is placed can change everything. So it is with the document we have produced yesterday. I think it is very fine, but perhaps because I am reading it in one place. That place is in a hugely diverse church, a church that stretches across many nations (some of which still criminalize homosexuality). Impossible diversity on one level.

Finally, many of the best art works have the capacity to take us places – expand the heart and mind. I hope that what we have produced will take us to new places. Most of all I pray that it will take us to a place of celebration of the lives and loves of GLBT and those who are beautiful in their sight.


taking leave and moving on



I am at our General Synod. Most of what happened today has been ‘in Committee’, which means that the discussion cannot be reported or blogged.

I have been carried along through the trials of today by reflecting on General Synod/ Te Hinota Whanui’s little trip / hikoi out to Oihi and Rangihoua. We went there to visit the site where Samuel Marsden landed and first formally preached a sermon in English in Aotearoa/New Zealand in 1814. (I hesitate to say that it was the first time the Gospel was ‘preached’ since some through their words and actions had preached enough of the Gospel that Ruatara felt confident enough to invite Marsden and other missionaries to set up a little settlement under Rangihoua Pa.)

Anyway, ….

It was chance to see the new building, the Gathering Place, at the top of the walkway down to Oihi and the Marsden Memorial Cross. The building, is named Rore Kaahu – meaning an soaring eagle – since the roof structure is likened to an eagle in flight. (See the first photo)

The worship we had in the building was fabulous and then many of us made the best of the beautiful weather and ventured down to the beach and the Marsden Cross.

It was a wonderful day. Dolphins in the bay, sunshine, relaxed and happy faces.

For me the most remarkable feature of the day came as we were taking our leave of the site and Rore Kaahu. I think I heard one of the best sermons I have heard in years. It came not as a sermon but in a poroporoaki –a formal farewell speech that Maori traditionally make as a group leaves a place. It was offered by the great Ngati Porou orator/ priest / all time funny guy The Reverend Canon Morehu Te Maro.

Matua Morehu began his speech by taking off his leather cowboy hat to reveal his shock of white hair and instantly the hilarity began. He simply observed that the building called Rore Kaahu has no doors and he made some jokes about how it would solve some problems with his church back home if they could embrace the same idea. He also pointed out that a church with no doors has the advantage of allowing people to go in at anytime. He got us to give a fulsome “Amen” on his proposal for his church back home, figuring that his idea would be unlikely to get an “Amen” at home but he could use our support to make his idea happen. (I should record for his benefit, he “put” his motion, and it is was carried unanimously with gales of laughter.)

He then talked about the walk down to the Marsden Cross – people whispered, “he is nearly ninety.” This little narrative was sprinkled with lots of self-deprecating humour. He spoke about the cross being too big get his arms around, and he had to make do with all he could grasp.

Lastly he thanked us for allowing him to stand and speak and for listening to him talk all about himself. more hoots of laughter.

When I spoke with Matua Morehu today (photo below) he laughed that I thought the sermon was so fantastic. Essentially he denied my accusation that it was a truly great sermon and he even denied that he had said anything at all – I guess because he knows, that it is the Holy Spirit, soaring like an eagle, that actually carries the Word and this is not something the preacher really does.

But I deny that the sermon was all about him. He spoke about us all and for us all. The prophet made us all laugh and enjoy the idea of a church that has no doors. The pastor made me cry a little inside about our resistance to really having such a church and, great leader that he is, he got us to go with him anyway. The teacher threw into the gales of laughter the truth that our faith is too big and too wonderful for us to fully grasp. And then, the leader suggested it was time for us to farewell where we had been and move on.




Remembering William Yate

The Rev William Yate

The Rev William Yate


Lunchtime treat Tuesday; I got a quick walk on the beach – the benefits of oversight of the Ministry Team in Bream Bay. I walked up a sandhill and that had me reflecting on General Synod ahead – slightly daunting and it is certain that there will be some steps when we just seem to go nowhere and slip backwards instead. I found myself praying for our Archbishops – Philip, Winston, Brown and our General Secretary, who will try and assist them. It will be a heck of a prospect for them at this stage – presiding over some long and (perhaps) difficult discussion. I am also thinking about The Reverend William Yate.


Tomorrow the Pakeha Bishops will gather at the historic Te Waimate Mission Station to spend some time in prayer and a bit of conversation before the General Synod really begins. The Mission Station was founded by The Reverend Yate. He had the vision for the Mission, negotiated the purchase of the land, built the famous Mission House, and was summarily removed from ministry because he was homosexual. His belongings were burned and his horse shot and he was sent back to England.


In the 1830’s the idea of a homosexual Christian was truly scandalous but the response to Yate was violent and vindictive – frighteningly so. While we have changed our attitude somewhat today, GLBT clergy that I speak with are worried about how the church will treat them and what place there will be for them at the close of General Synod. I ask for your prayers for all of us at General Synod/ Te Hinota Whanui and especially for those with most at stake.