Diocese of Sydney declares ‘breaking communion’ with Australian Church

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THE Synod of the Diocese of Sydney has passed several motions calling for changes in the way the Diocese interacts with the Anglican Church of Australia.

It follows that the Australian General Synod did not pass a formal resolution of the diocese declaring that the blessings of same-sex marriage and same-sex marriage were contrary “to the teaching of Christ and to the faith, ritual, ceremonial and /or to the discipline of this Church”. (News, May 13). Although Sydney’s declaration drew support from both the clergy and laity houses, it failed by two votes in the bishops’ house.

A motion passed at the Diocesan Synod of Sydney noted “with pious sorrow the deep rupture of communion in the Anglican Church of Australia exposed to the eighteenth session of the General Synod on questions of doctrine and human sexuality”. He asked the Synod Standing Committee to “review our future approach as a diocese for General Synod meetings.”

He also pledged to “pray for the repentance of bishops who did not vote for biblical marriage” at the General Synod, and to “support in prayer[ing] Orthodox Anglicans both within the Anglican Church of Australia and within the new Southern Cross Diocese”.

The Southern Cross Diocese was established by Gafcon Australia in August (News, August 19). The Australian Primate and Archbishop of Adelaide, The Very Reverend Geoffrey Smith, described the diocese as “effectively a new denomination” with “no formal or informal relationship or connection with the Anglican Church of Australia” (News, August 26) .

Another resolution noted “that accordingly the Archbishop of Sydney, as well as assistant bishops, may choose to withdraw from fellowship in particular national or provincial ecclesial contexts”, and recommended that they “engage other bishops Orthodox” on how they might act together. “in response to broken communion”.

Another resolution was to raise up Christian leaders across the country “who can clearly proclaim the gospel and are ready to go on missions”, and to establish and sustain “churches which faithfully proclaim the gospel and uphold the truth of the word of God”. The resolution reflected a call from the former Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, that Sydney Anglicans “continue to populate the country with laity and clergy”.

Speaking at a pre-synod dinner, Dr Davies, who is the first bishop of the Southern Cross Diocese, said that while the Diocese of Sydney really cared about Australia, the “best clergy ” and the laity should be sent to the dioceses where there were “welcoming bishops”. It was also necessary to support, through the diocese of Gafcon, “the injured Anglicans” in the dioceses led by “revisionist bishops”.

He also called for a commitment to a strategy of “structural change in the Anglican Church of Australia”, putting “the best people in the best places to bring about change that will further the gospel”. This strategy was already in place in the General Synod, he said, in which the Diocese of Sydney, together with others, had influenced the composition of the Standing Committee.

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