NEWCASTLE Anglicans will debate same-sex marriage next week as the Australian church splits on the issue following a fiery call to arms by Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies.
The diocese will discuss two bills at a synod at Christchurch Cathedral on October 26 seeking to allow for gay married couples to seek church blessings, and gay married priests to remain as priests without church sanction.
The historic debate occurs less than two weeks after Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies stunned some Anglicans in a speech in which he proposed that dioceses that wavered from the current church marriage doctrine should be denied funds.
Dr Davies called for those who disagreed with the doctrine of marriage being between a man and a woman should "please leave us".
"They should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views - but do not ruin the Anglican Church," he said.
"Please leave us. We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world."
Sydney was "in a state of impaired fellowship" with any diocese, bishop or minister allowing or blessing same-sex marriage, the diocese said in a draft doctrine presented at a Sydney diocese synod this week.
There is already a formal church appeal against moves by Wangaratta diocese to bless gay married couples in church after a secular wedding.
Newcastle Anglicans next Saturday will debate amending the diocese's clergy disciplinary ordinance so that the "legal marriage of a member of the clergy to a person of the same sex" is not grounds for a disciplinary charge that could lead to the withdrawal of a priest's holy orders.
The proposal notes that the amended ordinance will only come into effect if a majority of synod supports it, and with the written support of Bishop Stuart. It also carries a 12-month delay until a final vote at the 2020 synod.
A second proposal will allow a church blessing of gay couples married under Australian law following the historic passing of the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act on December 7, 2017 that prompted wild cheering and rejoicing in Federal Parliament and across the country.
The Newcastle Anglican amendment, if passed, will allow for ministers to be conscientious objectors on same-sex marriage.
"No minister will be compelled to assent to conducting such a service if to do so would offend their conscience," the proposed bill for a church blessing of couples married in secular services said.
"Where a minister has a conscientious objection to conducting such a service, that minister may refer the couple seeking such a blessing to a minister who is willing and able to conduct the service."
The proposed bill could require participating parishes to record the details of same-sex marriage blessings in the Parish Delegated Authority Register.
Archbishop Davies was accused of trying to force a historic split in the church over same-sex marriage after his diocese controversially contributed $1 million to the "No" campaign during the same-sex marriage postal vote survey in November, 2017.
Rector of Sydney's St James' Church, Andrew Sempell, said there was a "degree of madness" about the split in the church, with Sydney archdiocese proposing an Anglican "divorce" on a debate to preserve marriage.
This week Wangaratta vicar-general Clarence Bester said it was "not for any one branch of the church to claim that there is no space for other branches".
In a letter to the diocese about the proposals Bishop Peter Stuart said there was no doubt the Private Members' Bills "will cause anguish to some in the diocesan community as well as being a cause of celebration for others".
Bishop Stuart said he would "expect and welcome" that if the proposals passed they would be referred to the Australian Anglican Church Appellate Tribunal by Archbishop Davies.
Bishop Stuart assured the diocese of his "commitment to exercise episcopal ministry across the breadth of the comprehensive expression of Anglicanism we have in this diocese".
In a formal "summons" for the synod Bishop Stuart outlined the "expectations of behaviour in our church community" following the teachings of Christ to "love one another as he loves us".
"Our experience of being together can be difficult, particularly when there are differences. So it is important to be clear about how we will behave towards each other," Bishop Stuart said.
The diocese will discuss the 2020 budget on Friday with the marriage debates from 11am on Saturday.