Lynne and I are back from the parallel universe which was GA 2018. We’ll be talking about it on Sunday. As a prelude, however, let’s background two major items.
One was the Church’s response to the End of Life Choice Bill. This is an emotive subject, equally important to those on either side of the entire issue and on either side of this particular Bill.
The Doctrine Core Group‘s report was incredibly one sided. There was a lot of comment on this bias. The Core Group was unanimous, yet, in serving the church with doctrinal comment, it was felt the Group had a wider responsibility to give more than one point of view.
Also, their report was phrased in extremely polemical language. This was also commented on in dialogue groups and on the floor of the whole Assembly. Unfortunately, quoted in the church’s official press release, this intemperate language has gone public as our official point of view.
While the report is against the particular Bill of the moment, the Church did not come out against voluntary euthanasia. In fact, a major concern was that the bill could open a way for any end of life choices NOT to remain voluntary for different reasons. Concern was expressed that both Government and church need to put more effort and money into support for the vulnerable, mentally ill, aging and chronically ill people. This is something we at St Andrew’s need to think through.
Our proposal in the area of glbt issues was to promote study and discussion of ‘Changing our Mind’ by Prof David Gushee. Gushee is an US evangelical whose sister’s coming out forced him to re-think a lifetime of teaching and preaching. Our proposal was left till last. People were tired at the end of what was mostly a positive Assembly experience. It seemed there was therefore no will to enter a vigorous debate and it was lost decisively (about a third voting for) with very low affect in the room. We had come with 70 donated books and another 10 back in Wellington. Before I left the stage I offered free books to those who wanted them. There was quite a rush! Within an hour, by the end of dinner, 78 books had been either taken or ordered. It made me think of how President Trump exited the Paris climate accord but US businesses continued work combatting climate change. Though the official word was ‘No’, there are many people, conservative and open, prepared to read and study in this area. The most surprising people came to get a book and talked of running study groups. Also, the brief debate had identified individuals. I was told of several conversations arising as a result – and was part of some myself.
Meanwhile…congratulations Pam Ormsby on the life membership of the Labour Party bestowed this week by Hon Grant Robertson! Thanks to those who held the fort in different ways while Lynne and I were away. We will each say more on Sunday about Assembly along with wider comments about where the church is ‘at’. See you there. It is community brunch Sunday too, so bring your usual delicious food and we can chat further.
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