LGBTQ Ordination (a follow up to my Te Kaea interview)

Five Minutes of Fame.

Well, it seems my all too brief and not very illustrious career as a commentator on Church issues has hit its first speed bump!

With General Synod underway in Fiji and issues around our LGBTQ whanau having some prominence, it was only natural that the media would pick it up as a story, and so the lot fell to me to be interviewed. In an attempt to ensure 100% clarity I elected to be interviewed in English for the Māori language news, Te Kaea. The interview went well and I was pleased with the overall experience, until I saw the subtitles.

In the interview I was asked if I thought there was a barrier to the ordination of LGBTQ people to which I responded in the negative. I went onto say that there is, in my opinion no theological or tikanaga reason why LGBTQ people who are living in a loving relationship or are celibate cannot be ordained. This is not a view I apply uniquely to our LGBTQ whanau, but one I apply to any ordained person, or indeed candidate for ordination. The subtitle, however said “…I don’t see why any celibate gay man or lesbian woman cannot be ordained.”

Whanau, I believe that sexuality in its entirety and the physical manifestation of that sexuality between two people who love each other is one of the great gifts of God. It alarmed me therefore to see that the subtitle indicated or inferred anything other than that position. To demand anyone, LGBTQ or otherwise to exist in a state of celibacy as a prerequisite for ordination when they are involved in a loving relationship not only denies the couple perhaps the most intimate manifestation of love available to humans, but also denies the fullness of the candidate’s identity to be lived out. Of course there are some who choose to live a celibate life, and I support them 100% in that calling. I, however draw the line at demanding celibacy as an enforced way of life.

Whanau, although this post largely takes the form of an explanation, it is also a statement of support and solidarity from myself to our LGBTQ and Takataapui whanau everywhere, not only those in the Church.

Arohanui.

Please note that this isn’t an attack on Maori TV, Te Kaea or the reporter. Sometimes these things just happen.

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Cold Feet?

Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tai Tokerau.

Cold feet. It is a feeling mostly associated with blushing brides on their wedding days, not young men about to realize the calling of a lifetime, but in a way, I think this may be the most apt description for how I am feeling now, just a week out from my ordination to the diaconate.

If you were to ask me at the beginning of the year how I felt about my calling to ordained ministry, my answer would have been as quick as a bullet and I would have been 100% confident, now just 7 days away from ordination I am not so quick to answer. From the first time I felt a calling to ordained ministry I have always felt a sense of calm and relaxation in the call, perhaps it was because I was so young, or perhaps it was because it was still over 5 years before there was even the possibility of being ordained (in this province no one under the age of 23 can be ordained.) now, just a week before ordination and a mere few days before I join with the other 3 ordinands and go into retreat, I find my mind and heart reflecting, and indeed fluttering at the thought of what is to take place on the 11th of December.

Reflecting back on the last few years and the journey both Sharlene and I have taken in the church I feel humbled and amazed at both the people we have been privileged enough to work with and the experiences we have both had, together and on our own. From holding a Kuia’s (elderly lady) hand as we said prayers by her bedside, and returning the following week to bury her. To trips to Fiji and to Pine Ridge and the people of RedShirt, South Dakota, these experiences and everything in between have impacted on me hugely and have gone a long way to shape me, my ministry and my outlook, and it is to these experiences and the huge amount of people that my mind now turns to, one week away from ordination.

Although come 1pm on the 11th it will be my head upon which the bishop lays his hands, and it will be my voice responding to his questions I know that none of this would have been possible without the help, inspiration, mentoring and friendship of a whole host of people, not to mention the various experiences I have been lucky enough to have. It is because of that that I am able to respond to the calling to serve God in ordained ministry and it is because of that that come the 11th, my heart and mind, while still fluttering, will be secure and relaxed in the calling I have received, the calling I often talk about, the calling to love and to serve, only now I will serving as a Deacon in the Church of God.

For those of you who live locally, I extend a warm invitation to share with the church, the ordinands and our families this Sunday, the 11th of December at 1pm at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Khyber Pass Road as Brendon Wilkinson, Wayne and Jody Ashby and myself are ordained to the Diaconate.

Kia koa, Kia hari. –Rejoice, and be glad.

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