St Matthew’s in the City’s the Reverend Clay Nelson says he expects a majority of Anglicans in New Zealand will support same-sex couples being allowed to marry in their churches by 2016.
He made the comments to GayNZ.com after a motion at a meeting of the Anglican Synod backing same-sex marriage was barely defeated.
‘I do believe it will eventually pass, I hope no later than 2016,’ Rev. Nelson said.
‘Motion 6’ was on expanding the Anglican religious definition of marriage to include same-sex couples and was supported by a majority of the clergy present at the synod.
However a slim majority of Anglican laypeople at the meeting were opposed to expanding their church’s religious definition of marriage so the motion failed.
72 laypeople voted in favor of the motion while 65 were opposed and there were 8 abstentions – meaning the motion failed by a single vote.
80 members of the Anglican clergy present voted for the motion and only 44 against with 4 abstentions.
The motion needed a true majority of Anglican clergy and laypeople to pass so it still failed despite supporters outnumbering those who objected to the motion.
Rev. Nelson said that he thought a synod in the very near future would have the numbers to pass Motion 6 or a similar notion.
‘While the motion lost on a technicality, it showed that the bishops and clergy strongly support the change and a majority of those in the house of laity voting supported it. This is all very encouraging,’ Rev. Nelson said.
If Motion 6 had passed it would have opened the way to the Anglican Church in New Zealand either creating a separate marriage rite for same-sex couples or altering the current language used for opposite-sex couples to be inclusive of same-sex couples.
In the meantime Anglican clergy have been warned that any who officiates a same-sex marriage will be defrocked.
St Matthew’s in the City already allows same-sex couples to marry in the church but its clergy do not perform those marriages.
St Matthew’s in the City is famous for its controversial billboards, and in December of last year erected a Christmas billboard suggesting the baby Jesus could be gay.
The billboard sold at auction for $860 in April, with the funds going back into the church.