There will be many who can speak more eloquently and faithfully about the issue and experience of colonialism and occupation. As a white privileged woman I cannot begin to imagine what this has been like for others to see country, culture, history, language and life taken over, claimed, owned and trashed by others, leaving those who are the real owners discarded and made invisible.
But as a woman, my own experience of gender discrimination and abuse of male privilege has shown me the world can still be unexpectedly unkind and cruel.
Recent moves by the breaking away church calling itself a new Church of Confessing Anglicans has spoken clearly into its own shadow and fears as it seeks to scapegoat and marginalise all LGBTQI individuals and those who accept and welcome them and who are seeking to persuade and change current social opinions about the blessing of same sex relationships.
This break away Church has taken the deeply regretted and adversarial step of becoming colonisers and occupiers in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Having commenced this practice in the Anglican Church of Australia, where they tested their capacity to go uninvited into other Anglican dioceses and not leave when asked, and not listen when spoken to; the leaders of this break away church continue to break Jesus’ own Gospel message of inclusion, by choosing to exclude and put up barriers, misusing the power of their break away church, their privilege and entitlement to claim what is not theirs to claim.
They have not learned the lessons of colonialism; and the blindness and arrogance of such privileging and entitlement is breathtaking. They have redefined themselves against the wishes of many in the Anglican Church in Australia, in New Zealand and worldwide and without permission, have assumed they have the right to trample over history, over people, culture and place to take for themselves language, names, history, processes and ideas and to refuse to accept new Gospel inspired ideas. Here is not humility, or justice or love. Here is not the Gospel of love, peace and inclusiveness.
History tells us repeatedly such reaches for power inevitably come unstuck. Aspirations of raw power, through empire and colonialism are never permanent. The damage they inflict is powerful and grievous. I look back in history and see social, cultural, gospel inspired actions underpinning the changes in slavery, education, women working in the public sphere as leaders and as priests, acceptance and awareness of the evils of racism and hate speech and yet there appear to be some lessons we have to learn all over again. I weep at the hate and fear inspiring and providing the excuse for this latest move to entrench power and maintain the status quo of a privileged group.
I recently read some writing about the God-placed wisdom flourishing outside of the Church, but still within God’s creation and perhaps it is once again time for us to learn and listen from other sisters and brothers and recognise perhaps not all the wisdom and best practice is in the Church. Why should we imagine that it is only in the church where the best and the wise and most beautiful can be found? God is in all things; God created all things, in love! So in the places where we least expect to find God, we can see the Gospel actively working. The blindness and fear driving this latest round of exclusion and rejection will not be the architects of our world and I will not accept them, self appointed, as such. Christ is our architect. Christ’s way is more open and inclusive than ever we have been able to imagine or achieve in God’s creation so far. It is time for a more humble and accepting dialogue; and, has been pointed out in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, recognise and accept they have been talking about these things for decades and have been listening and working together. They do not need to learn from the coloniser and occupier. We need to learn from them. Let us all continue to do God’s work in God’s way.