Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand.
Promoting Faithfulness. Providing Fellowship.
Media Releases

Initial FCANZ response to Motion 29
Working Group Interim Report

31 August 2017   
You can download a printable version of this response here

This is a draft and initial response to the interim report from the Motion 29 Working Group, addressing what we are thankful for, some of the major issues we have concerns about, and our suggestions as to a way forward.  
There is much to be thankful for in the report. A serious failure of previous reports has been that the timing of their release has provided insufficient time for genuine discussion and debate prior to General Synod being required to make decisions based upon them. This Working Group is to be commended for producing a report that has met their deadlines and allowed space and time for prayer, consideration, and response prior to General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) 2018.  The report has a warm and positive tone, it is easy to read and understand, and its brevity is appreciated.  
Notwithstanding our comments below, the report is a sincere attempt to safeguard the opposing theological convictions of those in our church, and expresses a genuine spirit of compromise.  It provides an excellent platform upon which comment and engagement can occur, and we hope that our comments here will be received in a similar spirit.
We also acknowledge the considerable time given, and effort made, by the members of the Working Group, and indeed the personal cost paid by those participating members. Certainly, it appears those on the Group who hold particular views on this issue have not let those views colour the process, elements, or outcome of the interim report.   
Before we address our concerns, there are a few things we think should be noted:
  • 1. Whilst the Group have remained within its terms of reference (focusing only on ecclesial structures within our three Tikanga church), the report recommends the introduction of a practice prior to the church agreeing on a theological position. Specifically, it lays out a way for this church to bless same-sex marriages without debating and finally deciding whether to do so is consistent with God’s Word, or permissible under our Constitution and Formularies.  We are concerned that it is not good process to allow practice before agreeing on the principle, especially when many (ourselves included) believe the practice to be contrary to the gospel set forth in the Scriptures.  
  • 2. The current report is silent on rightly ordered relationships and ordination, this is different from previous reports.
  • 3. The report states that implementation of its recommendations will allow ‘ongoing debate to continue’ around matters of human sexuality. However, because one of the recommendations is to allow a practice many feel is untenable, this may hinder further discussion rather than enhance it, or cause such discussion to occur in a more adversarial environment.

The nature of an interim report means that there are many issues which raise questions.  Below are four of our major concerns.  
Safeguarding Theological Convictions
As noted above, we believe that the report represents a genuine attempt at compromise surrounding the practice of blessing same-sex relationships.  The report provides protection from prosecution for undertaking, or refusing to undertake, this practice.  But for many people their conviction doesn't simply end at undertaking blessings, or not being required to undertake them.  There are those who want to see full inclusion and legitimization of those in same-sex relationships across our Province, not limited by the conviction of a particular Bishop or Priest.  Equally there are those who do not believe that the church should move from its current position and allow any such blessings. Neither of these convictions are protected, and we remain unconvinced that they can both exist within the same ecclesial structure.  
Teaching vs Practice
The report focuses on the practice of blessing same-sex marriages, but is silent on what may be taught about such unions.  Currently, our church holds that marriage between a man and a woman is the only place where sexual activity shall occur, and any sexual activity outside of such a marriage is to be repented of.  Our Constitution declares that no person acknowledging the authority of GSTHW may “advocate or inculcate doctrines which are repugnant to the Doctrines and Sacraments of Christ.”  
Therefore, those who hold to the Doctrine of Christ can continue unchanged in their teaching and preaching without fear of breaching the requirements of the Constitution.  There is no such confidence for those who will teach (either in the liturgies used for same-sex blessings, or in their general preaching and teaching) that same-sex marriages are now blessed by God.
In short, under the report, only the practice of blessing is allowable, not the teaching about the blessedness of the union between two people of the same gender.  This problem is brought about by the choice to leave the definition of a marriage in the formularies undisturbed.  For both convictions to be safeguarded it is reasonable to expect that both positions can be taught.  This is not the case, and leads to our third concern.
Inconsistency with our Constitution and Formularies
Title G, Canon XIV currently ensures that any services performed in Anglican churches must be consistent with the Constitution and Formularies of our church. The proposed change allows services to occur that are acknowledged to be inconsistent with our Constitution and Formularies.  This is an admission that whilst the Constitution and Formularies have not been changed, they are simply being avoided for the purposes of this issue.  A Canon is being amended in such a way so as to avoid the operation of a fundamental provision of the Constitution.  We question whether this is legally possible.  And even if it is, is it right to do so, is there integrity in it?  
Uncertainty of Episcopal Oversight
The report’s most significant proposal is the creation of Christian Communities to provide protection for those of alternate conviction.  These Communities are grounded within current structures, and come under the authority of a Visiting Bishop from within our Church.   The legitimacy of any Christian Community is dependent on the House of Bishops recognising such a Community.  However, it appears that if the House of Bishops were to decide the Community was no longer desirable (for whatever reason) it would cease to be recognised in our Province, and the protection it provided for its theological conviction would no longer be available.  These Communities also don’t provide any genuine protection when a diocesan Bishop allows (or prohibits) practices within their Diocese/Hui Amorangi that members of the Community believe to be unconstitutional or inappropriate.  Simply having an additional episcopal relationship with the Bishop of a Christian Community doesn’t address the impaired relationships clergy and parishes would encounter in that situation.       
A way forward?
Having made some comments and raised some concerns we believe there is at least one substantial change which will be required to move forward.  To be clear, even this change may be insufficient to address the cumulative effects of other issues (some of which are raised above), or the general principle of Anglicans recognising that their church has gone beyond the bounds of the faith in permitting the blessing of a sexual relationship which is not the marriage of a man and a woman.  But we do consider that without the change below, the proposals simply cannot work for conservatives.  
At the heart of the proposals is a move towards hui amorangi and dioceses being the unit where these issues are resolved.  In the Report it is not Synods or the collective mind of these units (comprising clergy and lay people) where decision-making and responsibility lie, but rather individual Bishops are given increased prominence and responsibility on these matters.  The decision to bless or not bless rests solely with them and therefore there is an increased need for members of their dioceses and hui amorangi to trust them. The recent actions of the Bishop of Waiapu (where a man in a same-sex civil marriage has been appointed as Dean of St John’s Cathedral) have shown that this is not something we can take for granted.  
If Bishops allow the blessing of same-sex marriages within their hui amorangi/dioceses there will be some who believe this is unconstitutional and against the gospel of the Lord Jesus.  Their relationship with their Bishop will be impaired. Therefore, simply having an additional structure (such as a Christian Community) which exists alongside existing diocesan structures is insufficient.  Ministry units of a conviction different to their diocesan Bishop must be able to have alternative, rather than simply additional, episcopal oversight.   If such alternative episcopal oversight were to occur from a Christian Community, then the Bishop of that Community would need to have the same privileges and responsibilities as any other diocesan Bishop, and the Community have the same status as a Diocese.  
We appreciate that this is a significant development of the suggestions provided in the report, but one which we feel is a minimum necessity to truly safeguard the convictions of those who wish to uphold a traditional position.  We are thankful for the grace shown in the report to allow feedback, and encourage FCANZ supporters to continue to uphold the Working Group in prayer.   

You can download a printable version of this response here

FCANZ finalises its response to Motion 29
Working Group Interim Report

16 November 2017   
You can download a printable version of this response here,  however you can read the highlights below.

FCANZ has submitted its formal response to the Motion 29 Working Group Interim Report. The final document builds on the previously published draft response and was informed by feedback, discussions, and ongoing prayer. We remain thankful for the Group's willingness to receive further submissions, and hear from the members of the Anglican Church in these islands. 

Whilst we are thankful for the contribution of the Working Group, we continue to be concerned that the desire of General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui is to change church practice prior to settling the ongoing debate over theological position. To be clear, FCANZ is not advocating for a change to the church's position, however it considers to be flawed any process that advances a practical change before finalising debate about a founding principle.

Inconsistency with Constitution and Formularies: The Formularies are left unchanged, however the effect of the proposed change to Title G, Canon XIV is to simply circumvent these fundemental provisions of our church. We question whether this is legally possible, or even morally appropriate.

Teaching vs Practice:  By choosing to leave in place the Formularies and simply change the Canons to circumvent them, the Working Group have opened up a significant difficulty. If logically followed, the changes would allow blessing same-sex relationships, but exclude any teaching that these relationships are blessed.  

Rightly Ordered Relationships & Ordination: This report is silent on these matters, which is different from other reports.

Theological Safeguards & Uncertainty of Episcopal Oversight: Whilst well intentioned the proposed safeguards of Christian Communities and Religious Orders are not sufficently enough entrenched (the very problem exploited by the proposed Title G change). This means that any Christian Community can lose its recognition by a simple determination of the House of Bishops. Moreover, the extra episcopal support proposed is in addition (and not an alternative) to existing oversight. This does nothing to help with potentially impaired relationships, nor does it consider those on either side of the debate who do not accept that non-compulsion is a sufficient safeguard. 

FCANZ contends that the level of oversight and  safeguarding offered should be commensurate with the level of change proposed.  In other words, the more the church changes its existing beliefs and practices regarding same-sex relationships, the more the church should provide a distinct structure for those who seek to retain the status quo (and vice versa).
Again, we remain thankful for the Working Group and its report.  We will continue to uphold it in prayer as it makes the changes for General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui to consider.  

You can download a printable version of this response here

FCANZ submission to Working Group
4 October 2016   
The General Synod of our Church resolved in May to establish a Working Group to identify “possible structural arrangements within our Three-Tikanga Church to safeguard both theological convictions concerning the blessing of same gender relationships”.   While the composition of this Working Group is yet to be named, suggestions of structural arrangements were to be in the hands of the Working Party by 1st October.  

The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand was pleased to make a submission.  Regretfully, we are unconvinced that a single structure can safeguard both theological convictions with integrity, and so have suggested that the best way forward for our Church is the creation of an extra-provincial diocese.  

Such a diocese will be distinct from the current ecclesiastical structures of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, and will be authentically Anglican.  A number of extra-provincial dioceses exist globally, and are all recognised as being genuine expressions of Anglicanism.  The existence of two ecclesiastical structures within the same geographic location has occurred in Europe for a number of years and provides a model for a similar overlapping within these islands.  

Either theological conviction could make use of an extra-provincial diocese, and the FCANZ submission suggests that whoever adopts this structure retains their current assets and resources.  Most significantly, the formation of such a structure will ensure that both theological convictions can be held with integrity, and that no one will be required to teach doctrine, or submit to authority, which differs from their theological conviction on the issue of blessing same-gendered relationships.

See a copy of the submission here

"No change" decision met with grateful thanks  
14 May 2016   
General Synod/Te Hinota Whanau ended on Thursday evening. It decided to put on hold, for two years, any decision about the œA Way Forward report. The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand (FCANZ) is grateful that no changes were made to the doctrine, practice, or constitution of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia.

We recognise that deciding to delay the recommendations within the report was extraordinarily difficult for some within our Province. "We are humbled by the effort and energy of all General Synod representatives when considering this potentially divisive issue. We are especially thankful that the unity we share in Christ can continue to be expressed within our province" said FCANZ Chairman, Rev Jay Behan.

FCANZ will continue to work together with all those within the Anglican Communion to proclaim the Gospel. "Despite our differences, together we will promote the good news of Jesus Christ, humbly offering to all the invitation of Jesus to deny self, take up our cross and follow him" he concluded.

FCANZ has a dual mission: to promote faithfulness, and provide fellowship.

FCANZ recognises WHCC as Authentically Anglican
 20 April 2016 [updated]  
The Anglican Future Conference concluded with delegates hearing from Rev. David Short (St John'™s Vancouver) and Rev. Michael and Kimberley Hewat (West Hamilton Community Church).  Both spoke of their experiences of being excluded from existing Anglican structures due to their stand against doctrinal change.

In his final address FCANZ chairman, Rev. Jay Behan, on behalf of the Board, honoured Rev. Michael and Kimberley Hewat and the church at West Hamilton for their stand for the truth.  He said "we rejoice in our fellowship with you, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in gospel ministry, and we recognise you as authentically Anglican."
He continued to stress that FCANZ is not advocating splitting from the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and will promote faithfulness to the gospel with grace and truth, and provide fellowship to all orthodox Anglicans both in and outside of existing Anglican structures.  

The Chairman'™s remarks were met with acclamation by the Conference.  
‹500 Anglicans Gather as FCANZ Launches in New Zealand
18 April 2016
Nearly 500 Anglicans from around New Zealand, including the Vicars of many larger churches, have met together this week at two conferences in Auckland and Christchurch to launch the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans NZ (FCANZ). FCANZ is a local expression of the Gafcon movement, and a message of support was read out at the conferences from Most Rev Dr Eliud Wabukala, Chair of the Gafcon Primates. Video greetings were also received from Most Rev Foley Beach (Primate of ACNA) and the Rt Rev Richard Condie (Bishop of Tasmania and Chair of FCA Australia). Rev Canon Vaughan Roberts (St Ebbe's, Oxford) gave 4 talks on True Gospel, True Sex, True Love and True Unity, and was joined by Rev Canon David Short (Vancouver), Dr Peter Adam (Melbourne), Rev. Dr. Sarah Harris (Auckland) and others.

The formation of FCANZ has been in response to the passing of Motion 30 in 2014 and the subsequent release of the A Way Forward Report, due to be presented to the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia next month. The report proposes the blessing of same-sex civil marriages thereby rendering them as "rightly- ordered" relationships opening up the possibility for those in them to be accepted as candidates for ordination.

Rev Jay Behan, Chair of FCANZ, said "This week has been a hugely significant moment for orthodox Anglicans in New Zealand. FCANZ is committed to promoting faithfulness and providing fellowship, and orthodox Anglicans now know that through the FCANZ there is a place for all orthodox Anglicans in New Zealand, whether they are inside or outside the current Anglican structures. We continue to pray that General Synod will pull back from making a decision which will tear the fabric of the communion, undermining the allegiance to General Synod for many Anglicans in New Zealand."

Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
New Zealand. 

Promoting Faithfulness. Providing Fellowship.