Church vicar resigns over same-sex marriage decision

St Paul's Anglican Church in Papanui.

A second Christchurch vicar has resigned following the Anglican synod’s decision to allow same-sex marriages to be blessed in their churches.

St Paul’s Anglican Church vicar Andy Carley told parishioners at a service last week he would step down from his role in November.

It comes after vicar Jay Behan of St Stephen’s Shirley announced his resignation in May.

The Anglican synod voted in May on Motion 29 to allow the blessing of same-sex unions in churches across the country.

Four Christchurch congregations have so far disaffiliated from the synod in response to the decision.

St Paul’s parishioner and Papanui-Innes Community Board member John Stringer told The Star Rev Carley announced last week that he would leave the church and set up his own congregation.

“Like-minded” parishioners members were free to follow him or stay at St Paul’s and allow same-sex marriage blessings,’’ said Mr Stringer.

Rev Carley declined to comment when approached by The Star.

Mr Stringer said the majority of parishioners were conservative. But there would likely be a number who stayed at St Paul’s.

“For most of us, it’s actually about the authority of biblical scripture and whether it is a faithful communiqué on the will of God,” he said.

“Many feel the Anglican Church is now openly supporting something they believe is wrong, and telling everyone it is okay and that God ‘blesses’ it. They feel betrayed and let down.”

The congregation would decide on Sunday whether to follow Rev Carley in leaving.

Bishop-elect of Christchurch Peter Carrell has been visiting churches across the city to discuss the issue.

Personally, he would not bless same-sex marriages, but he believed each church had the right to decide if they wanted to do so.

“I’m quite happy as Bishop-elect to authorise priests to perform those blessings, provided that the parishes are united behind that,” he told The Star.

Four out of the 60 ministry units had so far voted to disaffiliate from the diocese. He was unsure how many more would follow.

“It’s difficult to measure . . . it’s certainly causing people to make the decision to disaffiliate,” he said.

“Most of our parishes are comfortable with the decision
. . . we are really sad that some parishes are going, and we wish they weren’t going, but they do have the right to disagree with the position of the General Synod. But we do want to be careful and considerate about our continuing relationship with those who are part of our church family.”

He said he did not believe there would be an impact on funding for the rebuild of the Christ Church Cathedral at this stage.

Rev Behan said yesterday his congregation had disaffiliated with the synod “with great sadness.”

“There is a lot of sadness from both sides that we haven’t been able to come to an arrangement where, in good conscience, we can move forward together,” he said.

“We’re determined to try and keep good relationships, we’re not wanting things to get worse or to become more difficult relationally.”