Monday, 19 February 2007

InclusiveChurch and others respond

PRESS RELEASE
THE PRIMATESMEETING OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION
from Inclusive Church, Changing Attitude England,
and Changing Attitude Nigeria

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
19 February 2007

Inclusive Church and Changing Attitude give a cautious welcome to the communiqué issued today by the Primates of the Anglican Communion meeting in Dar Es Salaam. We commend the work that the primates have done to further the mission of the church and to strengthen the bonds of the Anglican Communion. In particular we value the progress achieved on the listening process and the Anglican Covenant.

The standard of teaching on human sexuality set out in Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference of 1998 has never been one that Christian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people have accepted. It was drafted and agreed in our absence. The bishops who drafted the original version of the Resolution refused to meet us and hear our testimony. It is not possible for us to be bound by teaching drafted by a largely male, heterosexual body of bishops. The Anglican Communion can never come to an integrated teaching on human sexuality until it has listened with open mind and heart to our experience and Christian testimony. We subscribe to a high Christian sexual and relational ethic. We object outright to the idea that it is possible to divide our innate sexual identity as lesbian and gay people from what the church insists on calling ‘genital activity’. Like heterosexuals we believe the love between two mature adults should be expressed in a faithful, life-long partnership in which sexual expression is integral.

The Primates request that the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church ‘make an unequivocal common covenant with the bishops that they will not authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention’. The request not to authorise any Rite of Blessing in the Episcopal Church will be an intolerable burden for LGBT Anglicans. The Episcopal Church is not alone in having many faithful lesbian and gay couples who seek God’s blessing on their relationship. We know that in England, the USA and Canada as well as other Provinces, priests will continue to find ways to bless such relationships. If the church can condone the blessing of so many inanimate objects, it is surely right to bless the love of two people of the same gender. We pray for the day when the church can support the authorisation of same-sex blessings.

The Primates also request that the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church ‘confirm that ‘a candidate for Episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent’. There is no prohibition on a single or celibate lesbian or gay priest receiving the necessary consent. Dioceses who wish to nominate a partnered lesbian or gay priest and such priests themselves are being asked to make a great personal sacrifice. In England, priests who are gay will also continue to be nominated and consecrated as bishops, as they will in other Provinces.

The Revd Giles Goddard, chair of Inclusive Church, said:

“The arguments over human sexuality have been dominating the life of the Anglican Communion for too long. We need, urgently, now to find a way to move on, so that the Gospel for all people can be freshly proclaimed in a changing world. The Primates meeting has begun to show us a way forward. We trust that the Lambeth Conference will be allowed to be a restatement of the heart of Christ’s message of love for the world.”

The Revd Scott Gunn, TEC representative to Inclusive Church, said:

“I am grateful that Bishop Katharine is recognised as the legitimate ecclesiastical authority in the United States. My hope is that the Anglican Communion can return to its focus on mission and evangelism. I hope they will shift the focus of attention away from a legalistic examination of the Episcopal Church towards a Gospel life of hope, reconciliation, justice and love.”

The Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England, said:

“I rejoice that the Primates are committed to the continuing unity of our world-wide Communion of churches. We LGBT Anglicans in Changing Attitude England and Nigeria are also faithfully committed to our church. We know the pilgrimage journey to our promised land of full inclusion is going to be long and hard. There are millions of Anglicans who have yet to learn about the deep faith of LGBT people in the Lord Jesus Christ and of our lives committed to prayer, worship, justice and evangelism. We are present in every Province and country of the Anglican Communion and we want to participate in the listening process in order that our stories of faithful obedience to God can be heard. We have been misrepresented for too long. Now is the time for people across the world to learn about LGBT Anglicans in Africa, Asia and South America.”

“I am saddened that our brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church have been asked to carry a burden on behalf of us all. With the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Church, we in England are also seeking honesty in the ordination of priests who are lesbian or gay priests and the consecration of bishops who are gay. We look forward to the day when we can include our lesbian sisters among those who will be consecrated as bishops in England.”

Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said:

“Our presence here in Dar Es Salaam at the Primates meeting demonstrates our loyalty to the Communion. We are committed to participating in the listening process and we want to be heard. We hope the Anglican Communion office and Canon Philip Groves, facilitator to the listening process help us communicate our experience directly to them if the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) refuses to participate.”

“My own Primate received me warmly the first time we met on Wednesday 14 February. I had hoped the next time we met we would have been able to develop our first meeting and have some conversation together but it didn’t happen. I hope we will meet again and he will be able to hear the voice of one of his own gay Nigerian members.”

STATEMENT ON THE PRIMATESMEETING OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

Full Inclusion
We celebrate the fact that the majority of Primates have modelled what it means to be an inclusive church this week, welcoming Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from the Episcopal Church of the USA. Bishop Katharine has brought hope to many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Anglicans across the world. She is committed to the full inclusion of all people in the Episcopal Church. Her voice will remind other primates that Gospel justice will not have been accomplished until the church is fully open to everyone, including LGBT people. Her presence has changed the Primates’ Meeting from being an exclusively male club. Another step has been taken towards the full inclusion of women in our church. We long for the day when all people are welcomed into the church, without regard to race, sexual orientation, economic means, gender, physical or mental challenge, or any other division.

Listening Process
We approve of the progress made by the Revd Canon Philip Groves as he develops his work on the listening process, inviting every province in the Communion to demonstrate how they are responding to the Lambeth 1.10 commitment to listen. We look forward to the development of his proposals for the Lambeth Conference 2008 and offer our full support to him in his work.

We hope that the Listening Process will be undertaken by every Province with the awareness that to listen properly means being open to the possibility of change by all involved. We trust the Holy Spirit, through this process and through our common Anglican life, to lead us into all truth.

The primates and the bishops who will gather at the Lambeth Conference 2008 have yet to hear directly from LGBT people. This remains a major challenge for the church. The listening process needs to be undertaken in every province and by every primate and bishop. We urge renewed emphasis on the listening process throughout the Communion.

Same-sex blessings
The cost of the decision not to authorise any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in the Episcopal Church is a serious means that LGBT people in America are being asked to carry an intolerable burden. As in England and other parts of the Communion which acknowledge that God blesses covenanted, faithful relationships, we know that priests with the courage of their own spiritual convictions will continue to welcome those who come for blessing.

Covenant
We welcome the framework of the draft covenant for the Anglican Communion. For 500 years Anglicanism has been a creedal, rather than a confessional church. We believe that the ancient creeds of the church are sufficient now, as they have been for over 1,600 years. We remain concerned about the increased tendency in Anglicanism to centralise authority.

In particular we welcome the commitment to ensure that ‘biblical texts are handled faithfully, respectfully, comprehensively and coherently’ [3(3)], to ‘nurture and respond to prophetic and faithful leadership and ministry to assist our Churches as courageous witnesses to the transformative power of the Gospel in the world’ [3(4)] and ‘to seek to transform unjust structures of society’ [4.1].

Theological Diversity

From its inception, the church has been diverse in its theological understanding. We believe that in our many diverse cultures it is to be expected that people will experience God and express their faith in a variety of ways appropriate to their own culture. In our conversations with Tanzanian Anglicans from local congregations, we have heard that while they may not agree with our own view of human sexuality, there is a high level of understanding and acceptance of diversity. They view the threat of schism as posing a great danger to local mission and evangelism, while they continue to hope for a global, diverse Anglican Communion.

As we work to build up the Kingdom of God, we urge sensitivity in our diverse cultures, that not all cultures people are prepared to welcome LGBT at this time.

Working together
Members of Inclusive Church, Integrity USA, and Changing Attitude Nigeria and England have worked together in harmony this week. We have prayed for the Primates. We have given many interviews to the press and media. We have built friendships with other Anglicans across our diversity of opinions. We have talked to many members of the Tanzanian press and helped them some of them begin to understand the experience of LGBT people. We have made contact with LGBT Anglicans from Tanzania and we hope to build on our new friendships. Those Primates who spoke with us encouraged us to work for the unity of the Anglican Communion and for the full inclusion of all, and especially LGBT people.

Prayers
We encourage all people to pray for the primates, bishops, clergy, and people of the Anglican Communion. We especially urge prayer for the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Primate of Nigeria Peter Akinola, and the Primate of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori. Each of these three Primates faces tremendous pressure of leadership, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide them.

Conclusion: Hope for living the Gospel
We look forward to a time when our conversations will be dominated by concerns of mission, evangelism, and service rather than by threats of discrimination, persecution, and schism.

We read the Gospels as commending radical inclusion. Jesus again and again shared meals with outcasts, treasured those whom the culture rejected, and taught that religious practice must be loving. St. Paul urged the earliest Christian communities to be people of Gospel love and hope, rather than people enslaved to the Law. We firmly believe that LGBT Christians belong at the centre of our common life in Christ, not at the margins.

We hope that the church will live this vision. In short, we seek a church that embraces all people as God’s precious children. We want an inclusive church.

END

MEDIA CONTACTS:

The Revd Colin Coward
Director of Changing Attitude England
+44 7770 844302
Email colin@changingattitude.org

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
+234 8025866133
Email davis@nigeria.changingattitude.org

The Revd Scott A Gunn
ECUSA representative to Inclusive Church
+255 762 400949 (in Tanzania until 2 p.m. GMT Wednesday 21 February)
+1 508 720 1500 (in the US any time)
sgunn@swingspan.com

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 19 February 2007 at 11:44pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | InclusiveChurch
Comments

But its clear that the Anglican Church is not that sort of church.

So why are you all wasting your time kidding yourselves?

Get out, start something new, and leave institutional homophobia behind for good. I did.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 12:05am GMT

Inclusive Church (et al) seems less angry than I am.

I can't help but notice, that the "Communique" resembles B033: rammed through at the last minute, just when it seemed like the gathering would end on an upnote (though of course, the Communique's provisions are WORSE than B033's)

As I asked on the first Communique thread below: just HOW, does TEC say "Thanks but no thanks" {*cough*Hell No!*cough*} to this? ++KJS? Executive Council? (Emergency?) meeting of the HofB?

As far as *I'm* concerned, this is STILL the purview of GC, and that's not meeting again till '09 (nevermind this ridiculous *artificial* 9/30/07 deadline)

"Jaw-jaw is better than war-war", as Churchill famously said. We'll see how that works, when TEC, God-willing, arrives for Lambeth WITHOUT kowtowing to these *damnable* demands...

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 1:16am GMT

Yep, Merseymike, I've hung on for long enough. I'm joining you on the outside.

Good luck to those who stay,

Posted by: matthew hunt on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 2:41am GMT

I am deeply humbled by the faith of those who have responded above. In the midst of gret vilification by some they have continued in the way of Jesus by loving their enemies and blessing those who persecute them, and keeping the larger picture of the reconciliation of all people in Christ at the center.

I personally find myself frustrated by the failure of many in our communion to even listen. I am encouraged though that we on the progressive end of the Episcopal Church might find a way to work with like minded people to share the gifts of GLBT Christians with others who have not expereinced them. There is no doubt we must be more intentional and assertive than we have been in the past.

It will be interesting to see if that kind of listening will happen at Lambeth. Until then I am grateful for those willing to sacrifice for the hope that we might actually find a way forward as a communion together.

Posted by: Thomas on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 3:36am GMT

JCF, I think the point is that TEC cannot say 'thanks but no thanks' without having to actually stand up and say it. In the past TEC has been known to be a bit unclear from time to time which has allosed it (her/him?) to give verbal assent with 'its' fingers crossed behind its back. One might site the various unanimous primatial statements signed by ++Griswold.

This communique does not allow that, whether because other primates have caught on to this game, or because the new ++ is simply someone given to clearer speach. I think that that is a good quality in her, and a good quality in this statement.

Posted by: James Crocker on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 9:08am GMT

I am unclear how this press release can claim to represent all "LGBT Anglicans" as if they are monolithic and entirely uniform group who all think and want the same things in this situation! There are plenty of Anglicans who experience same-sex attraction who do accept Lambeth 1.10 and who are fully included in the church because they do not express their attractions in sexual activity!

Posted by: Sean Doherty on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 9:54am GMT

For God's sake: I am a gay Anglican, I am partnered, I have no interest in getting married, blessed, or anything else. I do not feel in the least bit persecuted by the fact the Church won't marry me, in fact, I wonder if maybe sacramental Church marriage might only be meant for straight people, like motherhood is only for women. But I do NOT "experience same sex attraction"! This is a profoundly insulting display of ignorance. I am gay. I am not diseased, I am not under attack by the Evil One, I am not some poor afflicted soul who needs your, or anyone's, pity because I do not "experience opposite sex attraction". My life is not an experience, it is my life. If you cannot even admit that what I am is what I am, not what I experience, not what I suffer with, but what I am as a person, broken by the Fall, redeemed through Grace, and trying to live my life as best I can, then what's the point? That you, and God knows how many more, can say this kind of thing shows the depth of your ignorance about gay people and why it is so infuriating that Conservatives can mouth pious platitudes about something they not only know nothing about but are afraid to even learn about, perhaps because the very air coming out of our mouths is tainted. Conservatives claim to have no need to listen, then describe my life as "same sex experience" and cite biased bigoted "science" to support their oh so pious prejudices. Admitting I'm a human being doesn't mean denying your faith, or it shouldn't. If it does, then your faith is false. Sorry to come out so strongly, and to someone who I don't remember posting here very often, and if I'm being unfair, I apologize. But in the last few months I have read Conservatives on this board actively support and justify oppression, make false claims about gay people to support their own prejudice, even enlist the word "science" in their cause, deny that there is any such thing as violence against gay people or that the Church has had a hand in it, and on and on. I am sick of it. If you want to judge what I am, then fine, but the fact that you are more willing to judge what you think I am than bother to find out what I actually am leads me to say "careful, your Christianity is showing."

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 11:56am GMT

Sean Doherty, playing the glad-game, writes: "There are plenty of Anglicans who experience same-sex attraction who do accept Lambeth 1.10 and who are fully included in the church because they do not express their attractions in sexual activity!"

Where Sean sees happy, included, celibate homosexuals cheerfully refraining from the expression of their disordered desires, I see a deplorable web of hypocrisy, half-truths, and institutional deceit. While Sean no doubt knows "plenty" of celibate Anglicans, I see only fellow members of the Church who are desperate and despairing because they belong to a body that insistantly and repeatedly rejects them in the cruellest terms. Perhaps Sean is correct in his estimation, but as Gwendolen tells Cecily, "it is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different."

Posted by: Alex on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 2:11pm GMT

Ford,

I recogize where you're coming from, but in evangelizing younger gay folk, your argument won't fly with regard to having some kind of pastoral and ritual response to their relationships. It does become a matter of naming God's grace in lives thus lived, and younger folk get that. I've on more than one occassion been told thanks but no thanks when they learned TEC or even my dioceses doesn't have some kind of rite to provide pre-counseling, vows exchanged, in a public manner that name how God is working in their lives (blessing). It becomes an evangelism matter. So while there are certainly ways around the law and present moves to disallow such rites altogether make being honest more important to my mind that, sharing the Good News, but not necessarily pointing one to TEC. What we need is lay and gay folk willing to provide rites and blessings regardless of what the priests and bishops do or say. Hearing a word about God's grace in one's life, making public vows, are part of a stabilizing pattern of shifting gay culture, and it is Christianity that has actually helped this along in some aspects. I must say that in the midst of having my person and life abstracted, issuized, et al by left, right, and center, to hear a word of God's love and blessing has made a powerful difference and strengthened our relationship.

Posted by: *Christopher on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 3:13pm GMT

There is an inconsistancy in the Inclusive Church position of urging on others the Lambeth 1.10 commitment to listen, while at the same time rejecting its standard of teaching on human sexuality.
It is also fair to say that people can agree in wanting an inclusive church but disagree on sexual ethics. If churches welcome sinners, surely identifying certain actions as sinful is no barrier to inclusion.

Posted by: Erasmus on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 3:13pm GMT

Hi Ford - thanks for your honest and challenging comments. I certainly don't think you're coming on too strong and I apologise if my post was patronising.

I tend to use the term "experience SSA" because of my past involvement in the Bridges Across community which uses that language in an attempt at neutrality and respect for the integrity of different perceptions of the same phenomenon i.e. it attempts to respect the fact that there are people whom nearly everyone would describe as gay but who for various reasons do not identify themselves as such. I wasn't aware that it came across in such an insulting way outside of that forum so thank you for alerting me to that. I am certainly not "ignorant about gay people", and I am totally convinced of the genuine need to listen to Scripture and the experience of all with an honest openness to changing one's views in the light of what one hears. In the listening I have been privileged to be a part of so far that has not yet happened but one can hardly say in advance that it never will!

Alex: thanks for the wry smile the Wilde quote gave me. What you see certainly exists as well: clearly there is a great deal of hypocrisy too. I do think my point stands that there are gay people who do not agree with and are therefore not represented by Inclusive Church, but in retrospect I do recognise my comment was rather pedantic and trivial so sorry about that.

Posted by: Sean Doherty on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 5:07pm GMT

Christopher,
But this is my point. They prefer to sit in judgement on what they think we are rather than find out the truth, and, when we reject their ignorant judgement, they can consider us horrible perverts who God has obviously abandoned to our sin. They judge us based on pure ignorance and don't wish to have that ignorance dispelled, to the point of promoting scientific dishonesty, and I'm sick of it.

And, honestly, how much is it that gay people see the Church unwilling to acknowledge how God is working in our lives? Or how much of it is about validation, or punishing a Church that has wronged us in the past, or "sticking it to the Man" in some sense? I don't know. I do believe all these things are there, though. God is working in my life, I am convinced, but I couldn't care less if some power hungry Pseudo-Pentecostal half a world away, or down the street, acknowledges that or not. God hears my prayers, so does His Mother! There, that should give 'em a stroke!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 5:20pm GMT

Merseymike wrote: "So why are you all wasting your time kidding yourselves? Get out, start something new, and leave institutional homophobia behind for good."

Dear MM, I think that many "liberals" hang on when they really should leave because they don't have anywhere else to go.. Unlike the many conservatives who have felt forced to leave TEC out of conviction, liberals don't have a clear vision, or a real conviction, that motivates them to pay the price..

Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 1:46am GMT

'Yep, Merseymike, I've hung on for long enough. I'm joining you on the outside.
Good luck to those who stay,' matthew

Yes, its not half bad out here ! i o w "pretty good!".

You could do worse than give Quakers a go !
(Might see you there!)

Posted by: Laurence J Roberts on Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 2:32pm GMT

There is an inconsistancy in the Inclusive Church position of urging on others the Lambeth 1.10 commitment to listen, while at the same time rejecting its standard of teaching on human sexuality.
It is also fair to say that people can agree in wanting an inclusive church but disagree on sexual ethics. If churches welcome sinners, surely identifying certain actions as sinful is no barrier to inclusion.
Posted by: Erasmus on Tuesday, 20 February 2007.

Please don't make me laugh. 'Standard of teaching' ? It is BS.
It was imposed on the Lambeth Conference, by Carey's thuggery, after the work of Bishop Ndungane's working party had been ambushed by Carey and not even tabled for consideration. L1.10 as it was to become was viciously imposed, by Carey, whose own family don't even live up to his 'Standard'.

146 bishops wrote in shame, disgust and anguish disassociating themselves from it. One was Rowan. And another, the then Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, likened the proceedings, and the atmosphere of anti-gay hate, to aNurenberg Rally !

Such an immoral and deliberate misreading of Scripture, imposed in this draconian manner, does not command the respect of Christian people.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 2:48pm GMT

Ford, Alex,Sean and others modelling a listening process here. A joy to see, and deeply encouraging.

Thank you guys...

Also a Wildean word does all our hearts good !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 2:51pm GMT

Cheers Laurence, I think that's where I'm heading. Bless you.

Posted by: matthew hunt on Wednesday, 21 February 2007 at 6:05pm GMT
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