Wednesday, 30 November 2011

more about the Church of Ireland and civil partnerships

See earlier reports via this link.

The four evangelical organisations, Church of Ireland Evangelical Fellowship, Evangelical Fellowship of Irish Clergy, New Wine Ireland and Reform Ireland have issued another letter.

Dear Archbishops and Bishops,

Thank you for your most recent Pastoral Letter to clergy of the Church of Ireland. We welcome its publication and thank you for the time spent with one another wrestling with the issues involved. Further, we look forward to the planned Spring conference of 2012 and wish to assure you of our prayers throughout this process.

The Pastoral letter states that the purpose of the Conference will be threefold. First, to discuss the content of the letter itself. Second, to assist the church in becoming more fully informed. Third, to explore wider issues in relation to human sexuality. Further, the letter commends study in biblical, theological and legal issues before and after the Conference, confirms that members of Synod and ‘some others’ will be invited to attend, and envisages that the Conference will not be an end in itself. We wish to assist this process by addressing each of these areas in as constructive a manner as possible, making observations, suggestions, and raising some questions…

Read the full letter: Joint Evangelical response to Bishops’ Letter.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 9:30am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of Ireland

The implied criticism of the desire to 'up-date' the understanding of human sexuality, in the light of modern scientific and social discovery (contained in the pastoral letter) - under the supposition that 'nothing changes', is indeed very troubling for the future of the Church of Ireland. One hopes that a little more 'forward thinking' might help to restore the Church's credibility in the modern world.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 10:03am GMT

"and thank you for the time spent with one another wrestling"

That's one to add to the list that includes "Stand Firm" and Charles Raven's "SPREAD". These Evangelical Freudian slips are priceless.

Posted by: Laurence C. on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 11:22am GMT

That's right, welcome the conference but then make it quite clear that nothing said or done there will make a blind bit of difference.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 12:49pm GMT

It comes down to the politics of homophobia and disenfranchisement of the glbt members of the Church of Ireland. Shameful and Un-Christian in every way under the guise of "nothing changes". It's about hatred.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 3:00pm GMT

The writers of this letter plead that the matter be settled early in 2013( presumably according to their wishes) so that the Church can conentrate on mission , unity and service. Do they not realise that the mission of the Church can never progress until we are seen to value and uphold those with of different sexual persuasions as fellow Christians who have a right to love and companionship. Our unity cannot be uniformity and our service must be to the whole of humanity and not just the part we choose?

Posted by: Jean MAYLAND on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 6:09pm GMT

I guess maintaining the unity of the Church means "Don't do anything that will p**s us off or we're out-a-here."

And it also looks like since they feel they are absolutely correct, there is no need for them to be more well-informed.

Can everyone here say "co-dependence?"

Posted by: Deacon Charlie Perrin on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 6:40pm GMT

"We would reject any implication, explicit or implied, by default or by design, that somehow those who hold to and affirm the teaching and doctrine of [oppressing the Imago Dei made LGBT] are somehow ‘less informed’ or have a ‘less developed understanding’."

But ya are, Blanche, ya are!

Kyrie eleison...

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 30 November 2011 at 9:34pm GMT

For a further example of the uncharitableness of another part of Christendom, have a look at the comments on Fr Ray's blog following the recent remarks on Equality by the Archbishop of Westminster. Not much love shown there either.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 9:03am GMT

Given the tenets of Evangelical biblical theology, can any reasonable person expect any other position from the Church of Ireland? The strength of the C of I lies in Northern Ireland; it is becoming yearly less significant in the Republic. From my limited experience of this body, it is a model of middle-class respectability and the majority of members would be at sea with homosexuality, even more with its orchestrated British political wing. I have only come across one homosexual clergyman of the C of I and he was run out and now works in England. The problems seems to be less pressing there than elsewhere.

Posted by: John Bowles on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 10:24am GMT

I wish I hadn't followed your link, Richard Ashby.

What dreadful displays of alleged humanity.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 10:27am GMT

At least the Reverend Ray Balke does give this dislaimer on his blog thingie referenced by Richard Ashby (Thanks) :

'Comments may or may not be published. The choice is made on the spur of the moment and is purely arbitary'

I must say Vincent Nichols has come out trumps. Truly in the spirit of Basil Hume.

I found the comments about RC laymen living together chastely and even in civil partnerships, triggered the wicked thought -- so unlike so many RC clergy and religious. Yet hear we we barely a word of that true perplexity and scandal.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 11:55am GMT

@ John Bowles: The letter from the evangelical groups certainly represents one point of view in the CofI, but it is not the only one, not even in Ulster. While numbers are indeed greater in the North, the level of attachment and indeed financial commitment of the smaller population in the Republic is not to be underestimated. The public visibility of the CofI is possibly greater now than it was 50 years ago, when keeping the head down was the policy. While many of us are (I suppose) middleclass and respectable the church contains a wide spectrum of people, and even we have met homosexuals, both lay and clerical, and have not run them all off... The LBGT community has become much more widely visible recently, so I guess these "problems" will be just as pressing here. Even more pressing perhaps will be the desire of many of us not to allow the fundamentalists to hijack the church..

Posted by: David Oxley on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 12:20pm GMT

"I have only come across one homosexual clergyman of the C of I"

That I doubt.
You may only have come across one who was open about himself.
The percentage of gay people in society doesn't change because of human made country border. What changes is the culture and whether gay people can live openly or have to hide in fear.

I do wish that anti-gay people would at least recognise what terribly cost they heap on gay people. It's one thing to say that God doesn't like gay sex, it's quite another to dehumanise gay people and not to recognise what this does to them.
But it's really ostrich-behaviour to pretend they don't even exist!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 12:50pm GMT

John Bowles: "I have only come across one homosexual clergyman of the C of I and he was run out..."

And you think that is a Christian way of behaviour?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 1:14pm GMT

I imagine conservative evangelicalism is stronger in the north than the there much cons evangelicalism in the south at all? I rather got the impression that in the south the C of I was rather pre-Tractarian high church in its ethos, and was enjoying some numerical expansion thanks to immigration and the influx of some disgruntled RC's. Is this true? How strong are the groups that have written this letter? Are we talking of ,say, 20% of the clergy? more? less?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 1:27pm GMT


You said - about the C of I - "From my limited experience of this body, it is a model of middle-class respectability and the majority of members would be at sea with homosexuality,"

From my own fairly limited experience of the same body, gained through talking to Irish gay Christian friends, members of the C of I are entirely comfortable with the many homosexual fellow members of the church that they know. Mainly because the gay Christian men (also models of middle class respectability) tend to remain in the closet whilst at church.


Posted by: Simon Dawson on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 5:48pm GMT

At least ostriches are known only for burying their heads in the sand ! ...

A Queer Bible Commentary (SCM) will be found to shed much light on the scriptures. And many evangelical scholars and pastors from around the world, including memebers of the Metropolitan Community Church - with whom the C of E will have to take cognisance-- sooner or later.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 1 December 2011 at 7:43pm GMT
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