The Anglican diocese of Newcastle has voted to change its rules to allow for its ministers to bless same-sex couples who have married under civil law and to prevent clergy who have entered into same-sex civil marriages from being disciplined by the church.
Around two hundred people attended the Newcastle Anglican’s synod over the weekend and voted on the two church bills on Saturday.
The move by the Newcastle Anglicans follows on a similar move by the Victorian Anglican diocese of Wangaratta in August which has been referred to the Anglican Church of Australia’s appellate tribunal by Australian Primate Philip Freier.
The move by the Wangaratta Anglicans prompted Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies to call for supporters of same-sex marriage to leave the Anglican church and form their own churches earlier this month.
Newcastle Bishop Peter Stuart referenced Archbishop Davies comments in his address to the synod, stating, “by the time this Synod next meets, Archbishop Glenn Davies will have retired as Metropolitan of New South Wales and his successor will have been installed.”
“Archbishop Davies comments to his own Synod, just over a week ago, did not reflect the rapport that he has created among the NSW bishops. He and I have spoken frankly with each other in the last few days. I have previously invited the Archbishop to the Diocese before he retires. I affirmed my invitation to him, and he intends to be amongst us.”
The Newcastle synod’s bills will also be referred to the Anglicans’ appellate tribunal for a decision and so the policy will not be put into practice until it releases its verdict next year.
In September this year an Anglican priest, Father Noel Richards, married his longterm partner Drew Reid, in a Bendigo Uniting Church because he could not get married within his own denomination.
The news comes as the Sydney diocese held its own synod in which it passed a statement on gender identity that blamed gender dysphoria on the original sin of mankind and dissuaded people from undergoing gender transitioning.