Partnered gay man ordained in Dunedin, New Zealand

A partnered gay man, Juan Kinnear, is one of three people being ordained deacon on Saturday 4 November in St Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin. The Bishop of Dunedin, the Rt Rev George Connor, will ordain the three people, including Juan Kinnear, as deacons of the church, despite pressure from conservatives who say it could split the church.

Bishop Connor issued a statement that acknowledged the ordination was expected to be controversial. The statement described Mr Kinnear as being in a “committed same-sex relationship” and said the bishop and the Dunedin diocesan council were satisfied the ordination was consistent with the rules of the church and with the past practice of the diocese.

“The bishop and diocesan council are aware that divergent views are held in the church about such ordinations, and that people of good will and deeply reasoned faith stand on both sides of the argument.” Issues of sexuality evoked deep responses and were “currently a matter of debate in the worldwide Anglican communion and in this country and diocese”, the statement said. “Bishop Connor and the Dunedin diocesan council rejoice at the beginning of these new ministries and pray that the new deacons be supported in their ministry,” it said. However, the statement also acknowledged “the pain of those who cannot agree with this decision”.

Mr Kinnear is an academic administrator at Dunedin’s Knox College. He holds a bachelor of theology degree as well as masters qualifications from the universities of Natal and Waikato. The college website describes him as having research interests in Anglican ecclesiology and canon law.

The Rev Malcolm Falloon, of Christchurch, a member of the conservative grouping Anglican Mainstream, issued a statement saying the ordination could split the church. The group had written to the archbishops of the church in New Zealand “appealing to them to stop or postpone the ordination of a man who is understood to be in an 18-year same-sex relationship”, he said in the statement.

Mainstream chairman, the Rev Max Scott, of Auckland, said it believed the ordination should be postponed to allow proper consultation and debate on a “deeply divisive issue”. The statement also claims the vicars of “New Zealand’s 10 largest Anglican churches have also expressed their own protest at the proposed ordination”.

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