12 OCTOBER 2015

Greetings everyone
In less than a month's time we'll be meeting in Tauranga for the Baptist Annual Hui. Here among other things we will discuss the Working Party report concerning same sex marriage and autonomy.
This report was circulated back in July and has been well received by the majority of our churches. The report was done with plenty of input from our Baptist churches and individuals. For this reason we can be confident that it reflects the majority NZ Baptist heart and mind concerning autonomy and same sex marriage.
During August and September I held 23 meetings around the country for church leaders to discuss the Working Party report and the two subsequent resolutions suggested by the Assembly Council. The 8 resolutions suggested by the South Waikato churches were also discussed. These meetings were engaging, informative and at times quite lively but always helpful.
Quite quickly it emerged that there was a request from our church leaders for a third resolution. The third resolution being suggested reflected the suggestion made by the Working Party report that would see consequences for the pastor if they were to take a same sex wedding ceremony. So during my meetings I tested this and it became apparent that the churches were keen to see this added.  This was subsequently discussed and agreed upon at a recent Assembly Council meeting. So the Assembly Council will now also bring a third resolution to this year's Hui which reflects this suggestion by our churches. The resolutions for Hui 2015 will be as follows.
  1. In light of the Working Party paper dated June 2015, Assembly Council moves: The Baptist Union of NZ Assembly 2015 continues to uphold the sanctity of the biblical understanding of marriage understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman.
  2. Therefore, The Baptist Union of NZ Assembly 2015 agrees together that we will not conduct same sex marriages or allow our buildings to be used for same. 
  3. If a Baptist celebrant conducts a same sex marriage ceremony, the marriage celebrant, in the first instance, will no longer be nominated to the Registrar of Marriages by the Baptist Union of New Zealand.
When bringing any resolution to a Baptist Annual Hui the goal of the Assembly Council is to accurately reflect the heart and mind of our churches on the matter being discussed, for within this annual meeting we gather together to hear the mind of the Lord. Therefore the Assembly Council believes that these resolutions do reflect the high majority of our churches.
Furthermore in recent conversations held with the South Waikato pastors they have decided to withdraw the eight resolutions that they circulated to the churches in August.
We all know that this subject carries a diversity of opinion accompanied by a high level of feeling on both sides of this debate. It's my prayer that when we meet to process these resolutions we will do so with respect for each other and with high levels of Christian integrity. I look forward to being with you in November.
Yours in Christ

Craig Vernall
National Leader


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