Cape Town diocese requests pastoral guidelines for gay members

SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town diocese requests pastoral guidelines for gay members

August 24, 2009

[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] The Anglican Diocese of Cape Town, meeting in synod August 22, supported a resolution asking the bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to provide pastoral guidelines for gay and lesbian members living in "covenanted partnerships," whilst "taking due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion."

The synod also resolved to ask Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to appoint a working group, representing church members of varying perspectives, to engage in a "process of dialogue and listening" on issues of human sexuality.

The synod was held at St. Cyprian’s Church in Retreat, Cape Town.

The resolution on pastoral guidelines was proposed by the Rev. Terry Lester, sub dean of St. George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, who said the parish had come to be seen as "a safe space, a sort of liberated space" for gay and lesbian Christians in Cape Town. He said the cathedral needed guidelines for its pastoral care to gay and lesbian members in "faithful, committed" same-sex partnerships.

The original text of the resolution included language which some members of the synod said would lead to the blessings of same-sex unions. This, said the Rev. Dr James Harris, "will bring us into conflict with the wider Anglican Communion." The language was later dropped.

The Rev. Sarah Rowland Jones successfully proposed an amendment which provided that the pastoral guidelines should take "due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion."

The full text of the resolution on gay and lesbians in committed partnerships reads:

This Synod,

Affirming a pastoral response to same-sex partnerships of faithful commitment in our parish families;

Gives thanks to God for:

The leadership of our Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and his witness in seeking to handle these issues in a loving and caring manner; and

The Bishops of our Province for their commitment to the unity of our Communion and Province, working together seeking God’s way of truth and reconciliation;

Notes the positive statements of previous Provincial Synods that gay and lesbian members of our church share in full membership as baptized members of the Body of Christ, and are affirmed and welcomed as such;

Affirms our commitment to prayerful and respectful dialogue around these issues, mindful of the exhortations of previous Lambeth Conferences to engage with those most affected;

Asks the Archbishop to request the Synod of Bishops to provide pastoral guidelines for those of our members who are in covenanted partnerships, taking due regard of the mind of the Anglican Communion.

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