Anglican church meeting a 'watershed moment'

10:01 am on 11 January 2016

The Anglican church of New Zealand says a meeting of church leaders that starts in the United Kingdom today could be a defining moment for the church.

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Photo: AFP

The leaders of 38 national and regional churches, representing the world-wide Anglican community, will gather in UK's Canterbury Cathedral from today for the week-long Primates' Meeting.

The meeting was called by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to discuss the future of the worldwide Anglican community, or Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Communion is made up of 38 autonomous national and regional churches, involving around about 85 million people in 165 countries.

Archbishop Philip Richardson and Archbishop Winston Halapua are representing New Zealand and Polynesia at the meeting.

New Zealand Anglican church spokesperson Reverend Jayson Rhodes said there were tensions and differences of opinions within the church on a number of issues, such as attitudes towards homosexuality and women.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had called the representatives to the meeting in the hope of finding a way of keeping the Anglican Communion together.

"Some are saying this is the watershed moment," said Mr Rhodes.

"Others are saying this is a moment where there may be hope. There is hope because they are at the table, but there is also speculation and rumour that some people will walk.

"So it is definitely a determining moment in what was the Church of England, and what has become the Anglican Church."

Issues such as sexuality have started to dominate church discussion and the meeting would consider whether the divisions could be resolved.

"If you look at some of the African countries where same gender relationships are illegal and the church there sees them as a criminal act - then you look at other parts of the Anglican Communion such as North America where it's part of life and its part of the Anglican church."