Thinking Anglicans

'I stay because I love God'

Stephen Bates wrote in The Guardian yesterday (although it was only published online today):

‘I stay because I love God’

With some leading Anglicans calling for gay people to be killed (and the archbishop staying quiet), we visited one congregation to see if they’re still proud to be CofE.

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Davis d'AmblySimon Robert DawsonFather Ron SmithTimFr Mark Recent comment authors
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Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

Remarkably clear and thoughtful. Thank you for posting it.

Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

Remarkably clear and thoughtful. Thank you for posting it.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

‘One senior London cleric, himself in a gay partnership, says: “We are asked to make sascrifices of relationships, of part of our lives, that are unimaginable to our heterosexual colleagues, which they would never be asked to make. There is a failure to stand up for honesty, against prejudice, that is quite horrible. I stay because I love God and love the church, but it is like being in an abusive relationship.” – Stephen Bates, Guardian article – This is a reality for any gay person ministering in the Church of England today. Stephen Bates’ article in The Guardian should… Read more »

neil
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neil

And what of women? They now provide between a quarter and a third of the church’s clergy, though many give their services unpaid, but, 15 years after they were first ordained, they still can’t become bishops, because a handful of male clergy insist they could not accept their authority or abide their episcopal touch. Do remember that the same ‘handful’ who have doubts about that sure episcopal touch you refer to, have a consistent view as well regarding the validity of any sort of female ordination. They simply disagree with you, dear Mr Bates – even 15 years on…however contemptuous… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

I find it hard to understand how anyone could ‘love’ the church when it doesn’t accept and affirm them with regard to something so basic.

I grew to detest and despise it and although I sometimes miss the aesthetics and transcendence I just couldn’t feel any affection for something so institutionally homophobic

stephen bates
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stephen bates

Nothing to do with me, Neil. It’s never been my church.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

It would be interesting to know if anyone in Lambeth reads articles like the excellent one above. My guess is that somebody does, and then feeds bits and pieces to the resident gutless wonder [oops! I fell off the Rowan wagon].

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

Although the C of E is mired in controversy and controlled by powerful, wealthy elites, the solution to the current crisis is actually very simple: A populist Act of Parliament – overriding Synods – amending the Marriage Act to include same sex couples, and removing bishops from the House of Lords; bishops elected by transparent, democratic processes with the consent of the whole diocese, using the Episcopal Church as model. Or better still: abolish the vainglorious episcopacy entirely, as probably the main stumbling block to effective mission amongst the general population – especially the young – and a wholly inappropriate… Read more »

Fr John E. Harris-White
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Fr John E. Harris-White

Amen, I STAY AND BELONG, AS DOES MY PARTNER, BECAUSE WE KNOW GOD LOVES US, HAS CALLED US TOGETHER, AS HE HAS CALLED ME TO BE A PRIEST.

In the words of an Archbishop of Canterbury to a priest friend of mine, you are a better priest because of your partners love and support.

May God Bless us all, his family this Christ Mass

Fr John

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Merseymike. That is the paradox which so many of us find so difficult. The local gathered church is so often a place of positive inclusiveness where there is love, acceptance, toleration along with the aesthetics and transcendence which are so important. In complete contrast is the Church, as institutionally homophobic as it is mysoginistic. Its message of love is completely belied by the actions and pronouncement of bishops and others who want to turn us into clones of their intollerant selves.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

PS How does one Evangelical parish get three representatives onto a panel of six advising on the selection of the new Bishop of Rochester? Surely either mal-administration or procedural shenanigans.

drdanfee
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drdanfee

As Anglican pilgrims, the constant tasks of discernment and change never quite settle down, nor leave us completely finalized on earth, static, done. Both society and church life are weighed in the balances, found wanting in this respect where surprise changes are bubbling away, and found dearly beloved in that respect since people who change for the better as citizens and as believers are nourished to do so both in society and in church life. How deeply odd that Anglicans – who used to have the clearest long-term grip on citizenship and believers changing for the better, nearly unceasingly –… Read more »

Simon Robert Dawson
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Simon Robert Dawson

Hugh of Lincoln said “Although the C of E is mired in controversy and controlled by powerful, wealthy elites, the solution to the current crisis is actually very simple:” I agree with Hugh. The solution, at least for the gay issue, is very simple. All takes is for all the closeted priests in the C of E, many of whom post and complain on this blog. to be honest and come out. Over the past twenty of so years profession after profession has taken that step – teaching, police, armed forces, fire brigade. The list is long. There is a… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Richard
I think it’s actually “only” two reps from St Nicolas Sevenoaks.
The process is an election from and by the members of the Vacancy in See Committee. Most of whom were in turn elected by the members of diocesan synod.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“So to every gay priest on this blog who moans about the C of E’s attitude to gays, I would say the answer is in your hands, not your Bishop’s or Rowan William’s. Take responsibility for yourself. Come out publicly and honestly to everyone, and persuade all of your friends to do the same. It is a proven method. It works.” – – Simon Robert Dawson, on Monday – Simon, if only it were as easy as you suggest! I’m sure that if the Bishops in the House of Lords were not actively seeking to discriminate against gay clergy, then… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

Yes, Simon Dawson, it puzzles me why more gay priests can’t be open. But that really isn’t the issue, and I guess they have their own pensions to consider just as much as the bishops do. Best not to rock the boat even when it might benefit huge swathes of society. No, the real crime scene was the bishops’ collusion with civil partnerships – a progressive step provided you are not religious – but which denies couples any religious expression. This strikes me as being antithetical to the Faith, when the Church should be acknowledging committed relationships with ceremonies incorporating… Read more »

Tim
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Hugh of Lincoln scripsit: abolish the vainglorious episcopacy entirely, as probably the main stumbling block to effective mission amongst the general population

I don’t know about vainglorious, but up here if mission were left to just the churches themselves without bishops to organize things at diocesan (and higher) levels, even more church doors would be shut through can’t-be-arsed-itis.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

I wish every gay priest who participated in Rowan’s silly secret Mass would come out – and I wish every gay C of E bishop come out – statistically, there must be some. And if they don’t, then their gay clergy should out them. I know none of this will likely happen.

Simon Robert Dawson
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Simon Robert Dawson

Father Ron Smith says “Simon, if only it were as easy as you suggest! I’m sure that if the Bishops in the House of Lords were not actively seeking to discriminate against gay clergy, then your plan might work. Yes, the police the fire brigade and the military have allowed their gay membership the freedom to reveal themselves without prejudice” How easily we forget. The members of the police and others now have that freedom because they fought for it, in the Armed Forces case fighting all the way to the European Court. It was not a freedom given unasked.… Read more »

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

I and my partner have been out for decades, but I’m not sure it has done much good overall, as the Church of England has gone backwards. It’s better for those who come out of course, as long as you can live with or survive all the institutional consequences….

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Yes – I can testify to Laurie Roberts’ honesty.

He was very open 35 years ago, and I think his reflection is of value.

Of course Rowan welcomed openly gay couples ….. but that seems a lifetime away now …….

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Laurie, The point still has to be that the more of us live openly and normally as out gay people or gay couples, the more those around us will begin to see us as just like them, and the less the hate rethoric will affect them. There are still far too many people who truly believe they don’t know a gay person, and the one thing that has personally surprised me is the number of people who have said to me that my simply living here as a member of a normal family in the village has changed their minds.… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Guest

Rev L Roberts said “I and my partner have been out for decades, but I’m not sure it has done much good overall, as the Church of England has gone backwards”.

Laurie,

I hear what you say and well done for that. But I think it needs a critical mass of people to come out to have an effect, and we are nowhere near that critical mass yet.

Simon Dawson

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Simon Dawson: on clergy coming out, it’s not that simple. Bishops can be great abusers of power. I moved to a new diocese as an NSM (I teach for a living), and was out about being gay and living with my partner. I was asked to help out (unpaid) some distance away from where we lived during an interregnum, which I did for three months. Then the diocesan bishop (himself not a married man) insisted on visiting us at (actually my partner’s) home, where he spoke right across my partner and asked me directly if we were in a “physical… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Thank you, Father Mark, for your contribution to this thread. The fact is, that almost anywhere in the Anglican Communion – except perhaps in the USA and Canada, any admission by a clergy-person as to their being gay, could immediately put their professional employment (or even their honorary status as clergy) in jeopardy. Bishops do actually have the power, as you have said, to refuse or withdraw a licence to minister in his/her diocese. Many people may not realise that, at the moment, in the Church of England – unless the Equality of Employment measure goes through Parliament – with… Read more »

Simon Robert Dawson
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Simon Robert Dawson

Fr Mark, Thankyou for your comment. I agree with everything you say, but I think you miss the point of my original question. In the management trade it is called benchmarking; comparing your own organisation against others. And if you compare the priesthood as a profession, against other professions, it compares badly in the equality area, especially in the area of homosexuality and the way that priests in the UK have been able to drive this issue forward and claim equality. I agree that certain Bishops may be abusers of power, but not uniquely so. Had you been in the… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Ron
The passage of the current UK Equality Bill is not likely to resolve this problem. The Government has no intention of rescinding the clause about “a requirement related to sexual orientation” and has no intention, despite all the rubbish being written about this point, of excluding clergy from the scope of the exemption. That is to say they wish to maintain the status quo for clergy.

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

“this right of a bishop to disenfranchise gay clergy” … ” for fear someone else in the House of bishops (+Winchester?) might *dob them in* to the Archbishop.” – Ron This is shocking. What you’re saying, Ron, is that no one in the C of E can defend a point of clear principle for fear of losing one’s livelihood. What happened to the defiant spirit of the Reformers: ‘Here I stand, I can do no other’? At least ‘Reform’ have guts, even if we disagree on some matters. It’s little wonder people lose faith in the Church if the priesthood… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Simon Dawson: yes, it’s a good question. When I think about how much schools have changed for the better for both their gay employees and gay pupils over the last 20 years, I’m not sure that the gay teachers themselves did anything to bring about the improvement. I think it was entirely the result of human rights legislation being pushed through that protected gay teachers so that they cannot be sacked for coming out; at the same time, a massive attitude change on the part of young people occurred. Is that not the same for the armed forces? The Government… Read more »

Simon Robert Dawson
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Simon Robert Dawson

Fr Mark,

Interesting comments, thank you. It reminded me of a Quaker presentation I went to recently on their adoption of a policy of marriage for same-sex couples. I was struck by how important the Quaker’s communication method’s were in creating this huge change. If you get the process right then the outcome will often be good.

With that background I agree with your comments that it is the CofE’s processes, especially outdated management processes, which would appear to be part of the problem.

Simon

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Simon, I’m sad to hear, on Christmas Day, that the Church still insists on the right to exclude any Christian who feels they have a vocation to the Sacred Ministry of the Church while admitting that they happen to be of a ‘different’ sexual orientation from the so-called ‘norm’. It seems, though, that if they don’t happen to mention their ‘peculiarity’ in this part of their being, they might be acceptable – all other things being ‘equal’. God help us all, the Church won’t Celibacy, though practised by Jesus, was never a requirement from him for ministry. Neither did Jesus… Read more »

Tim
Guest

Father Ron Smith: just a side note, we don’t actually know if Jesus was celibate. Or even straight. There is a whole can of debate-worthy worms lurking, but an argument from what Scripture does *not* say (least of all explicitly) is invalid. (It’s not unreasonable to think that, given the amount of editing of text that’s known to have happened, references to a wife or partner might have been suppressed as well.)

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

Well, Tim; even you must agree that the writers of Scripture (well, at least John Evangelist, who was bold enough to acknowledge that he, John, was “the disciples whom Jesus loved”) Laying one’s head on the breast of a friend is a wonderful sign of loving and being loved.

Myself, I do not try to manufacture scenarios in the life of Jesus that cannot be backed up by the scriptures; but, on the other hand, one can use one’s imagination about what may have been ‘left out’ – without being too fanciful.

Simon Robert Dawson
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Simon Robert Dawson

Father Ron. You said “Myself, I do not try to manufacture scenarios in the life of Jesus that cannot be backed up by the scriptures” Surely by asserting that Jesus was celibate you, yourself, have “manufactured” such a scenario. I am not aware of any scriptural evidence that mandates such celibacy. “but, on the other hand, one can use one’s imagination about what may have been ‘left out’ – without being too fanciful.” This is the problem with scriptural work. One person’s reasoned faith is another person’s “imagination”, and what is perfectly possible for one person is “too fanciful” for… Read more »