THINKING ANGLICANS

Reactions to the Bishops' Reflection Group on Human Sexuality

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have issued a joint statement:

Statement from Changing Attitude and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement on the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality.

Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
James 1.21-25

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group under the leadership of Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich. Whilst expressing disappointment that a group tasked with reflecting on issues of human sexuality does not appear to include any openly gay people, we recognise that this simply reflects the reality within the church’s leadership – that LGBT people are invisible, our voices often silenced, and our experiences unheard. We welcome the opportunities which have arisen as part of the Shared Conversations to included the lived experience, deep conviction and prophetic witness of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and we recognise the enormously costly nature of the contribution many people have made to that process.

The Reflection Group must now consider the Church’s steps into the future. In doing so, they will be called to listen carefully to all they have heard during the Shared Conversations. We call upon them to lead the House of Bishops towards a future that celebrates the gifts of all God’s people including the LGBTI members of the Church of England and embodies the radical equality to which we are called in Christ.

Our prayer is that, strengthened by the Spirit, the members of the group will be enabled to listen, reflect and discern, and that as they undertake their work they will be granted moral courage and prophetic vision. For we are all alike called to be not only hearers of the Word, but doers too; our actions must match our words in seeking God’s justice, compassion and truth.

We continue to look forward to a future where LGBT people are no longer seen as a problem to be solved, but as gifted members of the Body of Christ, equal partners in prayer, service and mission. Anything less than that falls short of the Good News that God’s abundant love is for all humankind and that although LGBT people may struggle to find their place inside the church at the moment, God will travel with them when they choose the path of life, wherever that takes them.

GAFCON UK has issued this statement:

GAFCON UK Statement following the appointment of a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality

18th September 2016

GAFCON UK is puzzled as to why the Church of England needs a ‘Bishops’ Reflection Group’ on homosexuality. Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference is clear, and the Bible is universally clear. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are same-sex attracted, and faithfully living according to God’s revealed plan for human flourishing. As pastors, teachers, friends, and neighbours we can have no other response. The Church of England needs to have the courage of its foundational convictions, return to them, and move on to its mission of calling the nation to turn to Christ as the only Saviour and Lord.

Comments from various people have been reported in the media:

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DBD
Guest

“[LGCM] and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group” Pathetic. We should be saying loudly and clearly that this is not an acceptable next move. It’s not even a move. A little less conversation, a little more action, please! Bishops and LGBT groups both.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Justin calls for “charity and love.” However, it is not charitable to discriminate against LGBT people. It is not loving to treat us as “a problem to be solved,” rather than “as gifted members of the Body of Christ, equal partners in prayer, service and mission.”

So essentially, he is requiring LGBT people to bear the heavy burden of injustice and indignity for the sake of the comfortable status quo. Again…

GAFCON hardly requires a response. Lambeth 1.10 is not Scripture, nor is it in any way binding on anyone.

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

Never mind the absence of any lesbian or gay voice (or bi etc) it’s the absence of anyone who’s even hinted at dissent from the trad line that is dispiriting.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I totally agree with DVD. A truly pathetic response. The press release should have bluntly said that the group lacks credibility and the archbishops have betrayed their Christian ideals by excluding LGBTI voices. And yes, it should have been put that strongly. The archbishops could easily have co-opted someone like Jayne Ozanne who, left out, has properly caught the mood with words like “dismay” and “demeaning”.

David Beadle
Guest
David Beadle

There could easily be representatives of LGBTI groups on the support staff. This is most definitely, and most unnecessarily about us but without us.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

This joint statement from LGCM and Changing Attitude is completely on message, in sharp contrast to much else that has so far been said (and no doubt will continue to be said) by others. The House of Bishops, and the Presidents ++Welby and ++Sentamu, have the awesome task of leading the Church of England forward on this most vexed issue. For the moment, it is their task alone, with the added benefit of input from other members of the College of Bishops, to report to the General Synod in February 2017. To enable that to happen a working group had… Read more »

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Lorenzo – we can’t be surprised, can we? For years, the obvious weight out on numbers in Africa etc means that the result is always WAIT….lie…hide…wait. Why? Why bother? New, free, Internet age, LIBERAL Anglican movements don’t need this waste of time institutionalised masochism. Why stay for more dishonesty????

Kate
Guest
Kate

“But it is unthinkable that more than a tiny minority believe that the status quo can prevail.” The status quo has already prevailed. They are talking about us without us and openly LGBTI voices are not considered valuable enough to be in the room. The composition of this group is pastorally damaging to LGBTI people and obviously so, yet none of the bishops has bothered to make a pastoral address to help with the distress. And politically how can you even take the view that nobody believes the status quo can prevail? It is possible to read Welby’s tweets as… Read more »

Lorenzo
Guest
Lorenzo

With a lot of love, Anthony, for I admire your optimism and hope, you wrote ‘and six other members who may be expected to hold, to a greater or lesser extent, more progressive views,’ but how do you know this? None of them have done so much have emitting a little squeak of support or approval. Those who vehemently oppose will be reined in by those who do not eve have the backbone to voice any kind of public support. I cannot be hopeful.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Anthony, I fully agree with everything you have said, with one exception. Yes, the groups has been appointed from within. But the women bishops debate only finally got there after 6 women were invited to join the Bishops. The situation is slightly different in that there isn’t yet such a solid support for lgbt equality in the church as there had been for women bishops. It would still have been possible to have added at least a couple of lgbt voices. That there will be change is not in doubt. The question is what change that will be. Without lgbt… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

If Rod Thomas is included in this team of Bishops, why not include someone who actually knows what is involved in being Gay – the Bishop of Grntham?

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

“They” talked about women for years without women present. That didn’t stop change happening, but it took a very long time. Likewise the revision of the Alternative Service Book of 1980 was delayed by ten years from the original intention. The tricky thing about reading the runes on change is distinguishing institutional inertia from inaction/lack of will and purpose. The tricky thing for campaigners is maintaining morale and focus whilst nudging the institution in what they see as “the right direction” at the pace which can be achieved in the real world.

David Runcorn
Guest

Anthony – thank you for this well expressed mix of insight, realism and genuine hope. I agree with you. There no way back and I think things are actually changing wth some speed.

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

I also doubt the status quo cannot prevail. Is this in doubt?

The real question is what the arrangement for moving forward will look like.

Marriage remains untouched–pastoral response OK–denunciations of homophobia, etc.

The question is whether this really resolves anything or is widely seen as acceptable. I doubt it.

Lister Tonge
Guest
Lister Tonge

Thank you, Anthony, for a post deserving of the title, ‘Thinking’.

I’m posting during a visit to the States. It is great to see how things have moved on here. I’ve no doubt at all that they are moving in the same direction in the UK. I’m sorry it takes 15-20 years for us to catch up but I’m not going to fling insult and venom at my bishops while I wait.

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“If Rod Thomas is included in this team of Bishops, why not include someone who actually knows what is involved in being Gay – the Bishop of Grntham?”

Bp Grantham, understandably, might not relish the prospect of being the token gay. Or indeed having to hear bishops such as Maidstone or Blackburn dismiss his God-given orientation as an unbiblical disease to be controlled by episcopally-imposed celibacy. I wouldn’t.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Marriage remains untouched–pastoral response OK–denunciations of homophobia, etc.

The question is whether this really resolves anything or is widely seen as acceptable. I doubt it.”

I suspect most people not in the Bishops Reflection Group doubt it too.

NJW
Guest
NJW

If one puts oneself in the place of a current bishop (who will inevitably be conforming with the Church’s guidance on sexuality) who is minded to push reform then it is possible to see why there are no public signs of change – but why there may be hope for a desire to change. As one of the key roles of the bishop is to uphold the current teaching of the Church they immediately become open to discipline if they depart from that teaching or are seen to support contrary teaching. Thus, until the teaching changes every bishop has to… Read more »

Pam
Guest
Pam

Anthony Archer has expressed hope and trust in this reflection group. I know how difficult it can be to extend hope and trust. But it’s the only way forward.

Kate
Guest
Kate

NJW – a patient reasoned argument which would have been more credible if the Bishop of Grantham had been included, but which misses the point. The church has, yet again, shown that people who are known to be LGBTI are not considered valuable enough to be part of such a discussion. Quite apart from the eventual outcome there is the impact on self-worth and feeling included and valued by the church and it those regards, the composition of the group is highly damaging and the press release should have called on the archbishops to address those issues by making changes… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

I’m surprised at the sanctimonious tone of those who urge patience to wait and see what scraps the Bishops might offer. I understand the argument yes. But time ran out quite a while ago. We’ve already waited years since equal marriage came in the UK. Extreme and sacrificial patience has already been exercised on the part of those who want progress. I disagree with Anthony Archer about the tone of what is now required. More urgency. Not bile and venom against establishment bishops who are usually harmless and inoffensive (they have to be agreeable sorts to get appointed) but robust… Read more »

Nigel
Guest

I find myself rather less concerned about the make-up of this group of bishops, although I am deeply aware of the pain that is caused by setting up such a group without any LGBT people on it. A process of facilitated conversations was set up that culminated in further such discussions in General Synod in July. It was always the case that this would then go back to the bishops, who need to produce a statement about where we go from here. The bishops have not passed on responsibility for their response to yet another group. They themselves have until… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

More long grass.

Nothing will change until English parishes rebel in significant numbers, allied with substantial majorities in houses of clergy and laity. Until then, it’s just talk, and the bishops will delay indefinitely.

S Cooper
Guest
S Cooper

Kate – any real sense of self worth would lead to leaving now. But, too many like their nice jobs, dresses & pensions. Some speak bravely when retiring. No real change possible while pleasing Rome & the GS matters so much to bishops. Time to move on. Waiting to be told to wait more is pointless.

Susannah Clark
Guest

The jury is out until the Bishops produce a position statement, but if there is no breakthrough, then I think James Byron is right: “Nothing will change until English parishes rebel in significant numbers.” We are not prisoners of the bishops. They cannot veto our consciences. In the end, if 100 parishes did a UDI on blessing LGBT marriages and relationships, what could the bishops realistically do. Send in police to evict ordinary parishioners? And with regard to priests, if they were banned, could anyone really stop parish communities carrying on recognising them, week by week, in sacrament, in worship,… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

One other thing: a view is aired that bishops cannot disagree with Church teaching (and so Jeffrey John was denied preferment) yet Rowan described Nick Holtam’s challenge to Church teaching on the subject of gay marriage as something he, Rowan, felt was valuable for the Church. The difference was that the Bishop of Salisbury was not, himself, in a gay relationship (though Jeffrey John’s relationship met the parameters supposedly acceptable to the Church). Nevertheless, Nick’s challenging of church teaching (acceptance of ‘marriage’ as a term to describe what gay partners can have together) got favourable treatment from Rowan, and he… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“nothing about us without us.”

That’s been a theme in TEC for decades. Pretty strange to have an all straight and/or closeted group discussing the well-being of LBGT people.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Pretty strange to have an all straight and/or closeted group discussing the well-being of LBGT people.”

Pretty strange that some LGBTI people and allies find it acceptable.