Archbishop Thabo Makgoba
The head of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has pleaded for lesbians and gays to be patient in the wake of last week’s discouraging vote against same-sex unions.
On Friday, the church’s Provincial Synod, its top legislative body, rejected a proposal that would have allowed blessings for same-sex couples entering into civil unions.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba admitted in a statement that he was disappointed by the outcome of the vote. “I was glad I wear glasses or the Synod would have seen the tears. I wanted to be anywhere but in the Synod hall – I wished I was at home quietly in Makgoba’s Kloof,” he said.
Makgoba explained that while the results of the vote have to be accepted, “the debate is not over”.
He said that, “it was notable that a number of opponents of the motion did not reject it out of hand, but suggested instead that opinion in our Church was not yet ready for such a move.
“This was the first time this issue has been seriously debated by our Church, and representatives are free to raise it again at future synods,” he added.
Addressing lesbian and gay people directly, he insisted: “You are loved by God and all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ.”
He pleaded for the community “to stick with us to play your full part in the deliberations to come”.
At least one Anglican priest in South Africa has declared that he will not abide by the decision of the Synod. Rev Canon Chris Ahrends, rector of the parish of St Margaret in Parow, told the Weekend Argus that “the church has let Cape Town and the world down”.
He went on to say: “If a married couple, who happen to be the same sex, come to me and ask me to bless their marriage, I will do so.
“So if that means going against the church’s rules, then that is exactly what I am prepared to do because this is a matter of justice.”
In May, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s daughter, the Rev. Mpho Tutu-Van Furth, resigned as an Anglican minister in response to threats from the church to fire her over her lesbian marriage.
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa represents Anglicans in Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and on the island of St. Helena. Same-sex marriage is allowed only under South African civil law.