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Saturday, 5 July 2008

Haere Mai: A personal note - (b) 5July2008

This is my third York, so I must be more than half-way through my quinquenium on Synod, and although I made a couple of comments at 'Questions', I have never made a speech in a debate before. Well I made my 'maiden' in Saturday morning's Take Note debate on the Women Bishop's legislation.
Some debates have literally hundreds of members of Synod wishing to speak. To have a higher chance of doing so, members may put in a 'request to speak' in advance of the debate. This paper, with some notes from the potential speaker, lets the chair of the debate have an idea of what the speaker wants to cover in their speech, to allow more of a flow to the way the whole debate is going.
One of the suggestions in the Manchester Report is the possible creation of (say) 3 new dioceses across England for those opposed to the ministry of women bishops.

This reminded me of my time in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand which I have visited on a number of occasions, and a few years back had the privilege of working in a Parish in suburban Auckland for three months. Interestingly, the Bishop of Auckland John Paterson, is also chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, and has significant experience in both Aotearoa/New Zealand, where he was presiding (arch) bishop for a number of years, and the rest of the Anglican communion. New Zealand was also the first province that elected a woman, Penny Jamison, as a diocesan bishop, and has recently elected Victoria Matthews as the bishop of Christchurch. But it was less for the the women bishops has that I was thinking the church in A/NZ has something to say, but rather it's organisational structures...
The Anglican church in New Zealand operates under what are known as 3 Tikangas, or Cultural streams. There is Tikanga Maori; Tikanga Pakeha, the white settlers of Ndew Zealand, and Tikanga Pasefika, of the Polynesian peoples. Tikanga Pakeha has seven dioceses across the whole of the country; Tikanga Maori has five 'Hui Amorangi' whose oundaries are not the same as the dioceses, but have a similar purpose; and the Tikanga Pasefika has a single diocese that encompasses Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands, and is known as the Diocese of Polynesia.
The Tikangas have their own bishops, and clergy, though most training is done with two or more together - as at St. John's College in Auckland, where on the same campus, there are the colleges
  • Te Whare Wananga o Te Rau Kahikatea (the theological college of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa)
  • The College of the Southern Cross (for the Anglican Dioceses in New Zealand)
  • The College of the Diocese of Polynesia (the theological college of The Diocese of Polynesia in New Zealand)
  • and the unique on site ecumenical partnership with Trinity Methodist Theological College (the theological college of The Methodist Church of New Zealand).
So clergy often train together. More than that, the three Tikangas also meet together for the General Synod of the Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand, which meets biennially - imagine a General Synod that only meets evert 2 years! However, there might be some draw backs with this - as sometimes, not only do they vote as our synod does, by houses (that is by the house of bishops, clergy and laity); but in NZ they are sometimes called to vote by the three Tikangas as well. And on occasion, it is more than even that - they sometimes are asked to vote in houses and tikangas at the same vote - that is 9 separate votes going on at once!
On my first visit to churches in A/NZ, I was incredibly moved by the New Zealand Prayer Book. It has some services in English/Maori side by side. The English services have snippets of Maori in, and vice-versa. There are other services in Fijian, Tongan, and Samoan.

Here was a church that was trying to demonstrate unity and diversity at the same time. Could this help as a model for the all new CofE with women bishops too??
Well may be: but may be not. Once at a clergy chapter meeting with Pakeha clergy, I asked where the nearest Maori congregation was. No one seemed to know. I asked about local Maori clergy. Again, little effective response. And this was sadly not all one way - when asking for assistance amongst Maori educationalists for help with some study, I did not get much support (fortunately more than counterbalanced by the welcome of several Maori Clergy, especially my good friend Te Waaka M, in Rotorua later...!).
People really did not seem to know each other well across tikangas, particularly at parish church level - or possibly trust each other quite as I had hoped brothers and sisters in the church might. This sometimes also raised questions about financial issues between tikangas as well, which I did not have time to go into in a speech allowed less than 3 minutes in length. I suspect if we were to adopt the pattern in the CofE to deal with the issues of women bishops, we may run in to some of those issues as well.
Even having said that, what we have in the church in A/NZ is a possible pattern for dealing with diversity, and possibly well worth exploring further.
I started my speech with the Maori greeting Haere Mai (which caused the poor sign-language interpreters quite some problems!) - but as my speech was 27th out of 27, perhaps I should have ended it with a Haere Ra: farewell.
Audio of Alastair's speech: press to hear...

Alastair, GS101

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Alastair,

A wee word of caution. The tikanga structure of our Church took many decades to evolve. It comes out of a particular history. It is also still evolving. As a Church we have been reticient to 'export' this model when overseas friends have suggested it for their church or for the Anglican Communion. I think the prime learning is that a colonial church that oppressed an indigenous population can in time and with a lot of work develop new structures which give equal power and respect to indigenous peoples.

By the way, as a member of General Synod, our voting is largely done by a simple voice vote. On very contentious issues we break into tikanga, and the tikanga pakeha then caucus in their dioceses. Each diocese gives its opinion which contributes then to the opinion of tikanga pakeha. In this mode of caucusing there is a lot of give and take, as well as identifying where there isn't agreement.