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Southern Africa Demurs

Adapted from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Provincial Synod voted Sept. 30 to reject a proposal to allow “prayers of blessing” for same-sex couples. The Diocese of Saldanha Bay, which stretches from the northern suburbs of Cape Town to the Namibian border, had proposed the blessings.

The initial motion also proposed that bishops could provide for clergy who identify as LGBTI and are in legal same-sex civil unions to be licensed to minister in parishes. The proposers withdrew this section before debate began.

Opposition to the proposal was strongest among bishops, 72 percent of whom voted against it (16-6). Sixty-two percent of lay representatives voted against it (41-25), as did 55 percent of clergy (42-34). The legislation required a two-thirds majority to pass.

The church includes Anglicans in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and island of St. Helena. South African civil law allows for same-sex marriage.

Before announcing the result, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba spoke of the “palpable pain” in the church.

“If one is pained and hurt it pains me too, and I have learned as a priest that there are no losers or winners in the kingdom of God,” the archbishop said. “The pain on both sides is palpable and tangible, and the image of a double-edged sword pierces me.”

He said the Provincial Synod may revisit the issue in 2019, and the Lambeth Conference could also discuss it in 2020.

After announcing the vote, Makgoba called for silence “as we bring before God the pain that this outcome will cause to some members of this synod, some members of our parishes, some members of our church.”

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