Anglican Consultative Council gets challenging welcome

Mary Frances Schjonberg reports from Aotearoa New Zealand for Episcopal News Service (ENS) writes of the welcome to the Anglican Consultative Council members:

Young New Zealanders challenged the Anglican Consultative Council before the members even set foot in the doors of the Telstra Event Center Oct. 27 (local time) when three young Maori Anglican men, hefting taiahas (spears), performed a series of stances, shouts and facial gestures meant to determine if the newcomers had come with ill intent.

As part of the wero (challenge), Kahutia Maxwell, one of the three, laid down a leafy branch in the space between him and his fellows, and the assembled council members. When Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams solemnly picked up the branch, it was clear that the council meant no harm so Maxwell, along with Cyprus Morunga and Pouoterangi Ngargopo, escorted the council members into the arena.

Once inside, the council was treated to karanga, a form of female oratory which uses imagery and expression to welcome visitors to the powhiri.

After the challenges laid down by the province’s leaders and the city’s political leader, the challenging welcome intensified when Williams, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anglican Church of Southern Africa Archbishop Thabo Makgoba faced questions during the powhiri about God, theology and the nature of faith posed to them by Anglican students from elementary to high school. The questions ranged from whether it was fun to be a bishop, to what kind of shoes God would wear if God wore shoes, to “How can you be so sure that God exists?” The students also asked the three to speak about women priests and bishops, and same-gender marriage.

Jefferts Schori told Sadie Summit, who asked what shoes God might wear, that God would wear dancing shoes because God delights in creation. Makgoba chose hunter boots because God walks with us and hunter boots would “enable us to go where we’d rather not go.” Williams said God would wear the kind of shoes that would be easy to take off and give away when God met someone who needed shoes.

Other question ranged from women and ordination to same sex blessings and marriage equality to how one can believe in God.

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