Primate Profile–Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia

This was originally posted in late November 2006 as the first of the new series of primate prayer profiles. It’s been revised to correct an error in the original text.

With the upcoming primates’ meeting in 2007, we’ll be posting primate profiles for prayer, starting with the new primates.

Little is known about the current primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, Rev’d. William Brown Turei, 82-years-old. There are no recorded quotations by the primate on the Windsor Report or sexuality despite considerable activity on these issues under his jurisdiction.
More is known about the province. There are three ethnic streams within the province: Tikanga Pakeha (European), Tikanga Maori (Maori), and Tikanga Pasefika (Polynesian). I haven’t seen a numerical comparison between the three groups. I did find one study of religion in Greater Auckland; the Anglican Sunday attendance is 0.6% of the population and is declining.
My research is based solely on the Internet and seems a bit patchy.

1992—The constitution provides for the three cultural streams to order their affairs within their own cultural context.

1998—Rt. Rev. John Paterson becomes Presiding Bishop of the province.
The Tkanga Pakeha issued its long-awaited report on sexuality. The report recommended that ordination decision continue to rest with individual bishops, who would deal with application on a case by case basis, regardless of the candidates marital status, gender, sexual orientation or sexual preference. The report includes the statement “We cannot simply apply the biblical writers’ conclusions about human sexuality (often given in very specific contexts) into our 20th-century Christian cultures as we wrestle with issues of sexual behaviour.” The report was sent to the Maori and Polynesia sectors of the church (which had not been involved in the report) for information and consideration.

May 2004–Elected for a six-year term, Rt. Rev. Whakahuihui Vercoe succeeds Paterson. He is the first Maori to be Archbishop and primate. He is forthright in his opposition to same sex marriage.

Oct 2004–In a pastoral letter in response to the Windsor Report, the House of Bishops said, ” We note that discussions following our General Synod have heard a clear call from Tikanga Maori and Tikanga Pacifika for more time to work separately in addressing issues of sexuality, both culturally and theologically. We also note that this report does not address the issue of new ordinations of gay and lesbian people, any more than it addresses the question of homosexuality in general. Those matters were outside its mandate. But the work on the same issues that we have called for in our General Synod still remains to be done.”

Feb 2005–The primates’ meeting at Dromantine is attended by Abp. Vercoe and Bishop Paterson (as chair of the ACC).

Mar 2005—Bishop Brown Turei elected leader of the Tikanga Maori. At his installation, he is described as “a humble man and a good listener.” The vacancy was created on Bishop Vercoe’s elevation.

May 2006—The province announced that they were moving into a new model of shared leadership that would honor their three-tikanga structure. The constitution would be amended to comprise three senior bishops, each carrying the title of archbishop and co-presiding bishop. Bishop Turei will share the new role jointly with fellow Bishops Jabez Bryce (Pasefika) and David Moxon (Pakeha). Bishop Turei holds the formal title of Primate until the necessary legislative changes could be made. The new archbishops will each retain their present Episcopal roles, but will be supported in their primatial duties by the other bishops and the General Synod Standing Committee.
During the debate, Bishop John Paterson (Auckland), a former Primate, acknowledged that there had been a growing-apart since the new constitution was put in place in the early 90s. “It has been part of our growing pains,” he said. “We had to be separate in order to grow… Now we’re at the point of realising the consequences of growing further apart… a point where we can say we all need each other.”
No confirmation as to which Archbishop will attend the primates’ meeting in February has been published.

Jun 2006—After GC2006, in response to Canterbury’s reflection The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today, the Archbishops of the province welcomed the prospect of contributing to the shaping of a worldwide Anglican Communion covenant on doctrine. Only Archbishop Moxon (Pakeha) is quoted, promoting a slow approach, “unity in diversity,” and saying, “I believe we will always be in communion with [the Archbishop of Canterbury].”

Sep 2006—All three Archbishops attend the diocese of Auckland General Synod. Invited to speak to a motion encouraging the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite all bishops to Lambeth 2008, Archbishop Moxon spoke of the transformative nature of common life, the need to be respectful of one another, and the need to explore biblical texts in a scholarly way before thought is given to schism. The motion was adopted even though some expressed difficulty at a clause of the motion encouraging pastoral care of GLBT persons, in that imprecise wording could lead to a de facto endorsement of clergy becoming involved in civil unions or the public blessings of civil unions in church.

Nov 4, 2006—Dunedin Bishop George Connor knowingly ordained a man in a committed same-sex relationship. When he asked the question, “Are you willing that [the individuals] should be ordained deacon?” three members of the congregation were denied an opportunity to lodge their objection.

Nov 6, 2006—Auckland Bishop John Paterson, current General Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council and former member of the Lambeth Commission which produced the Windsor Report and of the primates’ meeting in Dromantine, licenses a former priest of the diocese who is not only a celebrant for same-sex civil unions, but who is also about to be “married” in a civil union himself.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You are our lamp, O Lord. You lighten our darkness. Turn all darkness within Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia into light and bless this province.
We ask You to pierce the hearts of Archbishops Turei, Bryce, and Moxon, the other bishops that support them, and the General Synod Standing Committee. Bring conviction from Your Holy Spirit upon them and reveal to them any ways in which they have displeased You and blocked Your blessings upon this province.
We pray that they renounce any hidden things of dishonesty,underhandedness, trickery, cunning, and deceitful handling of the Word of God.
Empower the representative of this province at the primates’ meeting in February to live as a child of the light, seeking all that is good and righteous and true and pleasing to You. Amen.

2 Samuel 22:29, 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, Ephesians 5:8-10

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