Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Martyn Percy calls on Archbishop Welby to issue an apology

Modern Church has issued the following press release. To access the essay itself, go to this page, and follow the link provided.

AS THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND faces another scandal this week over same-sex marriage and its treatment of clergy in same sex relationships, a senior Anglican professor has called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to apologise for the Church’s mistakes in its response to homosexuality around the world.

The Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and a Vice President of Modern Church, has published an article petitioning Justin Welby in his role as head of the global Anglican Communion.

In an essay called Sex, Sense and Non-Sense for Anglicans, Prof Percy examines the Archbishop’s approach to the Anglican Communion’s tensions over homosexuality and same-sex marriage ahead of the meeting of Anglican Primates he has convened for 11-16 January 2016 in Canterbury. Prof Percy warns that if the Church of England maintains its current course in responding to conflicts around sexuality and same-sex marriage may lead to its disestablishment:

‘For any national church to turn its face away from those who are full and equal citizens, and have their unions and marriages recognised as such, effectively augments a process of de-nationalisation and privatisation. It is a route-march towards a tribal church.’

In the Anglican Communion, which represents an estimated 85 million people in 165 countries, the Archbishop of Canterbury also faces the challenge of how to respond to religious, cultural and legal homophobia. In 41 of the 53 countries of the British Commonwealth, homosexual conduct is still regarded as criminal. Prof Percy calls for the Archbishop to acknowledge that:

‘(the) legal stigmatisation of homosexuality was largely ‘made in England’ in the nineteenth century, and imposed on cultures and emerging countries and that had not been, hitherto, homophobic. This is one of England’s less wholesome exports. The Archbishop of Canterbury could begin the Primates’ meeting by accepting responsibility for the part the Church of England has played in perpetrating this discrimination and the subsequent injustices – and publicly repenting of them.’

Prof Percy critiques Archbishop Welby’s decision to invite Archbishop Foley Beach of the breakaway Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to attend the Primates’ meeting, without consulting the official Episcopal Churches in the USA and Canada, and suggests:

‘So the Archbishop of Canterbury could begin proceedings in January by offering an apology to American and Canadian Anglicans for his intemperate gestures towards ACNA, and his lack of consultation, which has undermined them. He should further apologise for dealing in territories and spheres of authority that are simply not his to meddle with.’

He also warns against using the widespread belief that the Anglican churches of the global south now form the majority and are the only ones growing numerically to cede ‘more moral ground…to African churches…than might be judicious’ in divisive debates over sexual ethics. He calls for greater recognition of inequality and imbalance of power in the current debate:

‘Those needing protection and care are still lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians… Conservatives are not oppressed or criminalised for their opposition to lesbian, gay and bisexual people – ever, anywhere.‘

He recognises that for some Conservative Christians who argue that relationships between the sexes are prescribed and proscribed in the Bible, the issue will continue to be non-negotiable,

‘But if equal rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual people seeking to have faithful and life-long blessing of their relationship recognised and blessed is seen as matter of justice and equality, then we have a different Christian perspective to contemplate.’

Prof Percy advises against affirming dissonant voices from the global south ‘to uphold an oppressive conservative coalition that is determined to denigrate those of a more liberal persuasion’, which has placed the Church of England in alliance with developing nations but out of kilter with the rest of the UK.

He argues that the recent employment tribunal for Jeremy Pemberton – a priest who has married his male partner – which ruled that the Church of England was allowed to discriminate against Pemberton, because the church had exempted itself from UK equality legislation, ‘gave the Church of England the worst kind of Pyrrhic victory.’

This is compounded by the decision to discriminate against those being considered for future high office in the church based on any statements the candidate has previously made on same-sex relations:

‘The Church of England is, in other words, not only enshrining, but also perpetuating its own discrimination, while statistical surveys of churchgoers repeatedly show that there is growing toleration for same-sex unions in congregations and amongst clergy.’

This is not a situation unique to the Church of England, though it is particularly acute for Justin Welby as he tries to hold the Anglican Communion together in its tensions over the issue of sexuality and marriage. Archbishop Justin’s task is to appease conservative voices in the developing south of the Communion, yet at the same time not lose a whole generation of young people to the Church of England:

‘The Primates need to grasp that lesbian, gay and bisexual Christians are now an inescapable part of the Anglican Communion. In many countries across the world, they enjoy full and equal citizenship under the law. So, the Primates need to turn their critical attention to those countries in which they have influence, where this is not yet so.’

Prof Percy believes Archbishop Justin has a real opportunity to succeed where Pope Francis has recently failed in his recent Synod on the Family:

‘Simply put, no matter what his fellow Archbishops think about the right way to talk about homosexuality, there is no case for oppressing lesbian, gay and bisexual people under criminal law. In any country, anywhere.’

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Comments

Blessings on Martyn Percy+!!! Finally, a moral leader in CoE. Hallelujah!

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 6:08pm GMT

Martyn's point about liberty of conscience is really important:

"Yet other churches have faced the divisive issue of sexuality with a bit more nuance. The Church of Scotland, for example, deemed that same-sex relationships were a ‘matter of liberty of conscience, guaranteed by the Church, on matters that do not enter into the substance of faith’. Here, the question of same-sex relationships was left to the liberty of conscience of individuals, congregations and their ministers."

"Thus, a few might say that they cannot support same-sex relationships, and never will. But a quieter majority of others might think otherwise, and therefore affirm such relationships. The liberty of conscience applied here is still a matter of beliefs and practice, but not one that ultimately divides members of the church, who are all mutually affirmed as still ascribing to the core substance of Christian faith."

As I was saying to Pete Broadbent in another thread here, our unity is only ever in Jesus Christ.

That is the core.

Under the umbrella of that unity in Christ, we should seek the grace to embrace unity in diversity... in a diversity of consciences... rather than trying to impose a monolithic uniformity on other people's consciences about human sexuality... when such uniformity of view clearly does not exist.

This liberty of conscience would also be more reasonable and comprehensible to the growing numbers (and majority) in the UK who at present feel alienated by the Church's perceived homophobia.

Unity in diversity would respect sincerely held belief of individuals, priests and parishes, and be an exercise of grace not schismatic dogmatism. As Martyn says, the problem of differing beliefs about human sexuality should not be: "one that ultimately divides members of the church, who are all mutually affirmed as still ascribing to the core substance of Christian faith."

Perhaps the real challenge of God is not dogmatic righteousness, but the challenge of opening to grace.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 7:18pm GMT

Good on the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, a cleric of far greater Church experience than the current ABC - who sums up very well the situation of the homophobic origins in the former Commonwealth Churches in this brilliant summation:

"‘(the) legal stigmatisation of homosexuality was largely ‘made in England’ in the nineteenth century, and imposed on cultures and emerging countries and that had not been, hitherto, homophobic. This is one of England’s less wholesome exports. The Archbishop of Canterbury could begin the Primates’ meeting by accepting responsibility for the part the Church of England has played in perpetrating this discrimination and the subsequent injustices – and publicly repenting of them.’ "

Now is the right time for the Head of the Church of England to put right the past history of its part in the continuing homophobia of the GAFCON Provinces and their Global South supporters.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 8:25pm GMT

This is spot on ! Very, very heartening to read.

Thank you to Martyn Percy.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 10:51pm GMT

A good day for Martyns. Comrade Percy is greatly to be lauded (once again) for his courageous use of influence and privilege to challenge the powerful. Perhaps he has been listening to the Mag.

Posted by: DBD on Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 11:34pm GMT

In the conclusion to his beautifully crafted and well argued essay the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford calls for the need for episcopal poets and the employment of the language of poetry from our bishops as opposed to the dull verbiage of prose. Alas R S Thomas is no longer with us but mercifully his poems remain to enlighten many a sermon from our Anglican pulpits. We also have the deep poems of Rowan Williams but he no longer is Archbishop of Canterbury and I suspect is much happier exercising an academic ministry.
Canon Percy's essay invites Rowan's non-poetic successor to seek repentance and to apologise for the exportation via the British Empire and the Anglican Communion of homophobia.
Perhaps it is becoming increasingly obvious that Justin also needs to exercise a degree of penance and sorrow for inflicting so many Evangelical Managers (both male and female) upon the episcopate of the Church of England, rather than introducing one or two poets and academics onto the bench. Alas, the long held balance between Catholic and Evangelical bishops within the Established Church has in recent times under the two current Evangelical Archbishops been tilted too far in one direction.
I was pleased to read in the essay the quotation from Canon William Vanstone (another Anglican poet no longer with us) about all the noise in the swimming pool coming from the shallow end - a most poetic image. One of my own personal badges of honour is to have been selected by him, an Anglican Saint, for the ordained ministry as one of the Selectors on my ACCM Selection Conference at Chester so many years ago now.
So, hearty congratulations are due to Canon Percy for his most perceptive essay. It looks like being an interesting conference of the Primates of the Anglican Communion next month. I am only sorry that I won't be able to follow the proceedings as the dates of the January Conference sadly clash with my post-Christmas break when I shall DV be cruising around the Canary Isles.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 4:57am GMT

Welby's stiff neck won't even bend enough to acknowledge Percy's critiques, let alone repent. In a real sense, he has completed what Williams began - except in terms of personal, anecdotal loyalty, the Anglican Communion (or at least Canterbury) has lost The Episcopal Church. While the hierarchy may be willing to endure personal insult and denigration, the hierarchy are not in exclusive control of TEC. To be so publicly reviled by atheists or people of a different religion or even denomination is acceptable to Episcopalians, we tend to get a little "shirty" about it when we are patronized and belittled by our siblings!

His new friends in ACNA, et al, are more to Welby's liking - top-down model, same mindset on the same issues, the same manipulative, crazy-making behavior in regards to those they regard as in their control. I think he may find that these new friends will give him everything he wants, including money (the conservatives tend to be wealthy, in the U. S.), but only as long as the Anglican Communion follows their dictates. Unfortunately, money, and the power it buys, are more addictive than heroin. Even if the heroic stance is taken, and the CofE resists, the conservative Anglicans in the U. S. won't show TEC's restraint about founding a completely different branch of Anglicanism by establishing missions in Britain and the rest of the Communion.

Someone - Broadbent, I think - said that unity in diversity comes only if you have a central unifier. How 'bout serving God in Christ, through our own best lights? It seems that bishops, worship style, political views, priests are rather idolatrous (sorry, only word I can think of for it) point of unity. It never ceases to amaze me that physicists, who can disagree profoundly over the shape of the Universe, the motion of particles, the nature of quarks, the existence of bosons, still can be unified in recognizing one another as serving science and knowledge, without anathemas and excommunications (mostly, lol), but we, who speak from faith, who embrace our existence as dependent upon and resultant from the love of Another, cannot, cannot, cannot allow difference without casting one another out and salting the ground upon which the other had built.

And, to paraphrase what we're trying to learn in the U. S., "Prayer isn't fixing this."

Want to know why the mainstream religions are dying? This. This right here.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 5:43am GMT

Read the conservative blogs and they think that Doctor Welby is compromised and wishy washy, and has conceded too much on ss marriage. He can't win can he?

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 6:32am GMT

So any church that is not an established church is a 'privatized', 'tribal church'?

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 8:10am GMT

Many thanks dear Very Revd Prof Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, you speak my mind and that of the many isolated LGBT people from the Global South.

I hope those in the Anglican leadership will take your advice seriously.

Our Lord Jesus Christ has never in anytime dignified oppressors, those Primates from the Global South who promotes and support criminalizing homosexuals in their province are a disgrace to Christianity.

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 9:38am GMT

An inspiring read. Thank goodness there are a few genuinely Anglican theologians left. I hope that the Archbishop will read and not simply respond, as he did at General Synod in July: "yes, I heard the words, but I don't understand the question".

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 10:00am GMT

First rate - as an exercise in preaching to the choir. Martyn Percy usually gives us food for thought to supporters and critics alike, but this is pretty much the 'same old, same old'. Disappointing.

The essay's main focus is on the wider Anglican Communion, I know, but can an essay of this type carry much weight when it doesn't even acknowledge the existence of the Pilling report and the ongoing Shared conversations taking place in dioceses and coming up in General Synod next Summer?

Posted by: Peter K+ on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 10:14am GMT

To be fair, Fr David, 'the long held balance between Catholic and Evangelical bishops' has led us absolutely nowhere. I wish the new evangelical bishops all the best in dealing with the current unpleasantness.

Posted by: Lorenzo on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 11:01am GMT

What we need: to get on with Christian life and service in our communities.

What is being achieved: divisiveness on human sexuality, alienation and incomprehension in the wider community.

The Church is log-jammed by the issue of human sexuality, where there is a division down the middle of its membership. Most people in good conscience now affirm and accept gay and lesbian sex. Many other people, also in good conscience, do not.

So what's for the best, so the Church and its Christian communities can focus again on service and not repeatedly, again and again, stumble and conflict over the issue of sexuality?

The answer, surely: grace and love.

Grace and love are far more important than uniform dogma and claims of moral rectitude.

Grace and love and service.

I am a nurse. Do you suppose it matters more, to a dying patient, that you show dogma, or that you show grace and love?

The lonely old man who lives near you? Does he need your moral rectitude, or does he need grace and love, and hand holding hand, and kindness, and time?

We need UNITY IN DIVERSITY, based on union in Jesus Christ - the only true unity. We need grace and respect for the diversity of consciences, and forebearance, and patience, and generosity of spirit.

We need grace.

That is the challenge I believe God is presenting us with? Not who is right. But opening our hearts to grace and love.

The person with a diametrically opposite view on human sexuality to me... they may have more grace and love in their lives... be more truly Christian than me.

Does the atheist you know, actually, show grace and love? Then it is that, not their dogmatic rectitude, that will meet someone's desperate need, and make them - whether they identify or not - more truly Christ-like.

If we want unity in the Church of England, then we need a core unity we find in Christ alone. And an opening to Christ's grace and love. Love, the greatest commandment.

And within that unity, can we not accept the diversity of one another's consciences, and still see the good in them, the love and grace in them, the loved-by-God in them, the serving-my-neighbour in them?

And can we not get on with serving the people around us, loving our neighbours, and demonstrating to the wider pubic... actually... we have diverse views in our church on human sexuality... but there is a place for everyone... there is a place for you.

Our unity, our grace, our lives, our love, our service... doesn't come from our own moral rectitude... it comes from God.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit."

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with us all.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 11:14am GMT

Well done, Martyn Percy.

Of course it carries weight. It reminds the ABC that his first and primary care is England.

I will never understand why a succession of Archbishops has worked so hard to keep Global South hierarchs happy.

If 41 nations in the Commonwealth criminalised going to synagogue on Saturdays, would Welby go along?

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 11:24am GMT

Thank you, Martyn Percy, a point very well made.

Posted by: David Beadle on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 12:39pm GMT

Blessings on Martyn Percy. On a lighter? note... Every time I see the name of the ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, I am reminded that the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina has a locally popular tourist destination by the name of Folly Beach. In fact, every time I see the good Archbishop's name, I read Folly Beach. Might be a message there for Canterbury.

Posted by: Susan in Georgia on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 1:42pm GMT

The idea of unity requiring a 'central unifier' is interesting but not specifically relevant to issues relating to human sexuality. The Church established its 'central unifiers' some time ago: the 'Catholic creeds,' and 'the sacraments,' both of which leave room for variations in interpretation. What is clear, at least to me, is that all talk of affirmation and inclusion of LGBTI Christians is meaningless in the absence of liturgical rites; liturgy (and ergo the absence of liturgy) is doctrine enacted.

Posted by: Andrew Lightbown on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 3:47pm GMT

"I will never understand why a succession of Archbishops has worked so hard to keep Global South hierarchs happy"

Post-colonial guilt, combined with the racism of low expectations ("see their colourful robes and their simple but wholehearted expressions of childlike faith which although lacking the nuance which we might apply still show their essential kind-heartedness and natural sense of rhythm"). It's the politics of the 1950s which is, roughly, where large parts of the CofE either still live or would like to live: an exaggerated deference towards former colonies, for fear of being thought racist, which in fact ends up being far more racist than treating those countries as having moral agency.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 5:09pm GMT

This blog is so predictable. I think those who greatly appreciate e.g. the ministry of Archbishop Welby, who support traditional marriage, who welcome the hand stretched out to the various Churches of the ACNA, tend to be silenced or just give up contributing to what should be a courteous conversation - not least when so often labelled as "homophobic" etc. Admittedly, I am a licensed priest of Sydney Diocese, culturally conservative (e.g. a Prayer Book Society enthusiast, Mothers' Union supporter, constitutional monarchist, a continuing ex-services chaplain etc, etc )- though also a liberal, indeed agnostic, unitarian Christian, whose main concerns are the really big issues of today that I can do just a little about (and the many small issues of the many patients I will encounter on my hospital rounds today and tomorrow - as a long-time honorary hospital chaplain in my 80th year) - while acknowledging the great dangers and traumas so many of homosexual orientation - and many, many other people for other reasons such as war, widespread religious persecution, and famine etc - face still in far too many countries.

Posted by: John Bunyan on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 8:45pm GMT

Lorenzo, if we go as far back as the 1950s we see a healthy balance between Catholic and Evangelical members of the historic episcopate and numerically we were in much better shape then than we are now. In the 1960s with the publication of Honest to God we seemed to lose Faith in the product and since then the decline has been dramatic. With his background in the world of business the present Primate of All England seems to be rather like an Ecclesiastical Lord Sugar who is hell bent on introducing a whole host of purple shirted Evangelical business managers onto the Bench who are "missional" minded and have some experience in the field of Church Growth. A little more variety in the episcopate would surely be most welcome - let us have at least a few Catholics, Prophets, Poets, Scholars and yes, Eccentrics to add a little colour and rainbow brightness to the House of Bishops.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 16 December 2015 at 11:04pm GMT

Well John Bunyan, the problem is this: what is courteous conversation in this context?

Keeping it in the "First World".
The rhetoric of exclusion contributes mightily to LGBTQ teen suicide and homelessness, and depression for adults. Discrimination in the work place lessens ones economic well being.

Personally, the rhetoric that I'm not created in the Image of God, that my marriage isn't valid etc., is hurtful, indeed soul crushing.

In what way is it courteous to tell someone, and whole populations of people, that they are inferior to you and and inferior, if not an abomination, in the eyes of God?

There isn't courteous language for that. It doesn't exist. Every syllable that denies a persons being is an attack on our well being. Think of the arrogance of it. God created me. Who are you or anyone else to say that God has made a mistake and that certain humans have to rectify that mistake by ostracizing us?

There isn't courteous language for that. It's like racism. Or misogyny. Or antisemitism. It is the sin of not loving ALL of our neighbors.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 12:25am GMT

An interesting parallel with the question of the Church of England's attitude towards divorcees who have re-married (among them, some bishops!) is this seeming stand-off against the inclusion of Same-Sex partnered clergy.

The 'traditional' canon of marriage remains; but divorced and re-married clergy are acceptable, but same-sex married clergy are not! Such inconsistency!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 2:42am GMT

Strange how the conversation has to be courteous when it's toward conservatives, but any amount of insult, denigration and degradation are perfectly acceptable when aimed *by* conservatives *at* liberals, particularly gay and lesbian liberals. I continue to hear that this is because of their "deep convictions" and "passionate sincerity" - which, of course, is something of which no liberal, certainly no gay or lesbian person, could be capable.

It also seems that "courtesy" changes, when applied to one, or the other. For instance, the liberal must be constantly attuned to every nuance of tone or expression, each and every possible reading of their words, and accompany any statement or debate with constant reassurances of the rightness, the goodness, and the excellent goodwill of the conservative. On the other hand, giving an answer to a gay person which translates - however skillfully and subtly phrased! - as "We love you, even though you are perverted, unworthy, outside of any possible definition of Christian, and possibly possessed, so be quiet until you are tortured or bullied into pretending to be heterosexual or asexual" is considered a perfectly kind and measured response to gay people by any conservative. Indeed, even more than we gays deserve, when accompanied by throwaway remarks about concern over the dangers faced by gays.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 6:24am GMT

John Bunyan,
it's a tricky question, isn't it! I personally think that TA is one of the most courteous forums, although, of course, we all passionately believe what we believe.
As Pete Broadbent pointed out in a different context, TA is about the only major liberal forum, so it's not surprising that conservatives can find themselves outnumbered.

Are we labelling people as homophobic? Yes, far too often and far too indiscriminately.
There is a difference in how the terms can be applied. To conservatives it means "fearful of gay people", and they see themselves falsely accused and labelled.
To many of us here it means "speaking and acting in a way that is detrimental to gay people", and then it applies to a larger group of people.

It’s a word less used in personal conversations where we know our friends and families better and can engage more carefully with where each individual is in their thinking.
On a forum where people gather who desperately want the church to change, the word becomes political and is used for “people who reject that change”.

And ultimately, we can do little about the many problems you are faced with in your role as hospital Chaplain. But we CAN do something about the status of gay people in the church. We CAN do something to help young people in conservative churches who often end up on your hospital wards after suicide attempts, episodes of self-harm etc.

And you will find that many people on TA will continue to do, each in our own way, what we can to effect that change. As a matter of urgency.

Interestingly, if you could look past the gay rights question, you would find many friends here. Whenever we discuss issues that are not about equality, the opinions represented are widely diverse. And many gay people share many of the concerns you have listed. We have among us staunch royalists, ex-service Chaplains and Mother’s Union supporters. They just also happen to favour gender and sexuality equality.

Just look at the women bishops debate in the TA post above this one, where people are already complaining that the women appointed so far are evangelical and possibly conservative.
Once we have lgbt equality, the same will happen.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 8:53am GMT

Martyn Percy is spot on. One of the things are being told here, is that The Primates are really "servants' , not "rulers" at all. (see link). That the agenda for the forthcoming meeting is also about global issues like poverty and climate.

I've been attempting to do my bit to draw attention to Percy's point of view.


http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/hiltz-primates-meeting-not-a-decision-making-body

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 3:23pm GMT

'With his background in the world of business the present Primate of All England seems to be rather like an Ecclesiastical Lord Sugar who is hell bent on introducing a whole host of purple shirted Evangelical business managers onto the Bench who are "missional" minded and have some experience in the field of Church Growth'

The world of business creates the jobs that enable people to give to support our salaries, Father David. Yes, it has its own particular idolatries, but as the rector of a church full of business people who are trying to follow Jesus faithfully, I'd like to protest against this sort of contemptuous language.

One gift of people who are trying to run successful businesses is that when the business suffers, they know they have to address it. And with the current shrinkage in almost all churches in the western world, wise leaders who want to be faithful to the call of Jesus to be the church and spread the gospel will try to find ways to address the problem. It's not rocket science. Good people have been writing about it for decades now.

And if we ordain bishops in the 'apostolic succession', what on earth is wrong with them being 'missional'? Isn't that what an 'apostle' is - one who is sent, a missionary?

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 5:45pm GMT

'I personally think that TA is one of the most courteous forums'

Erika, take a look at the context in which the word 'evangelical' is used on this forum. We are the 'unthinking Anglicans', you know! (and that's one of the milder statements about us!).

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 5:48pm GMT

I thought it was quite a good essay, and I agree with much of what he wrote. However, I think that the Anglican Communion should be a much looser organization, as well as a much broader one. The Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church are the historic Anglican bodies in English-speaking North America. Both provinces were instrumental from the 1820s onward in forming the Anglican Communion in 1867. Any move to replace them with Continuing Anglican denominations, such as ACNA, must be firmly resisted.

However, we should recognize the fact that there are more than 30 Anglican denominations in North America. I, for one, would have no objection to granting them all associate member status if they would agree to support Table Fellowship among all Anglicans. TEC already allows any baptized member of these groups to receive the Blessed Sacrament at our altars, and some of these Continuing Anglican formations reciprocate. As part of the bargain, we could also give them each a voice and a consultative vote in the Anglican Communion, while retaining our own voice and decisive vote in any Communion proceedings.

Frankly I’m really surprised at the lack of self-awareness and self-reflection on the part of the GAFCON provinces. The most pugnacious of them have their own fracture lines, but they appear to believe that they can only be actors on the stage of the West, and that they cannot be acted upon in their own home territories. Even now they may be setting the stages for their own schisms somewhere down the road. Those schisms may not be that far off, either. Thus far, the historic North American Anglican Churches have practiced restraint—as befitting senior founders of the Anglican Communion. We will see what happens this coming January, however. Things could get very interesting very fast for some Anglo Evangelical leaders in the Third World…

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Posted by: Kurt Hill on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 8:06pm GMT

Tim, I couldn't agree more. And it really frustrates me how the word evangelical is becoming almost synonymous with unthinking, shallow and homophobic.
It stems from the time when the whole lgbt debate was framed in the context of liberals vs evangelicals. It's damaging to lgbt people too because the debate is now firmly in the evangelical camp and we're on the whole not very good at including pro gay evangelicals and LGBT evangelicals.

But it cuts both ways, and the way some people dismiss everything liberal here out of hand isn't helpful either.

Constructive criticism together with constructive, well argued comments are the best way forward for all sides.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 10:47pm GMT

May I just add that I for one have never described a homosexually orientated person as "perverted", or "inferior", or an "abomination" nor said that God has made a mistake. (That is not my idea of "God" in any case!) I strongly support parliamentary provision of formal,legal,responsible civil unions for those of whatever sexual orientation - yet to come in Australia. And many people CAN do something about hospital problems - by visiting the sick and joining pastoral care teams - but at least in my hospital where the great majority still identify as Christian and there are a significant number of Muslims, there are very, very few who do so. In my 18 years here as hon.C.of E. chaplain, not one Anglican priest or lay-person has ever joined our mainly Christian but inter-faith team. Mine is a hospital appointment. No official support or recognition has ever come from my Diocese of Sydney in which, though holding the Archbishop's general licence since finishing 20 years as a Rector of working-class parish, for the last 10 years I have been barred from even taking up the collection at my local historic, lovely Georgian, but now madly fundamentalist parish church (banned for publicly criticising bullying in the church, but really for not believing in what is "the Gospel" here - penal substitutionary atonement). So I know just a tiny little about adverse discrimation even if it is far, far less than that suffered by men and women of homosexual orientation in too many parts of the world. None of this changes my belief in marriage as commonly understood in at least recent centuries- and in the teaching of Jesus about marriage. But my thanks to those who thoughtfully contribute to this debate and to whom I do try to listen with an open ear !

Posted by: John Bunyan on Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 11:08pm GMT

John,

I didn't say any "said" those things, but people have to take responsibility for what they imply or what may be inferred, as well. Look at Tim's comment to Erika, above. Nor do I believe I singled you out - I see relatively little from you, as opposed to our professional prophets and martyrs, Julian and Benedict.

In the case of conservatives, they are quite careful not to use those words, as that would undermine their position, but their meaning is clear, no matter how they try to backpedal! Welby's dancing around the subject is a very old ecclesiastic's trick, perfected by Jesuits long ago. Dakin's clinging to the altar of the word of the law doesn't inveigle the wider community. The protests from the CofE conservatives of the danger to people in the Global South is . . . disingenuous. I can come up with no more charitable term, sorry. The danger is neither lessened nor increased by TEC's views on homosexuality, and is palpably a license allowing both Muslims *and* Christians in the Global South to torment, torture and murder glbti's.

My point about the difference expected from conservatives in the way they treat, as opposed to how they are *treated* stands, sadly. I, even if alone in this, am not going to continue to play into the illusion that back-handed compliments and empty protests of "concern" by them is loving. I won't pretend that holding the shield of dogmatic theology eliminates any possibility of true bigotry. I cannot, and for others, *will* not pretend that words have no harm intended, when they carry baggage of centuries of harm. I won't pretend that telling others that they should be barred from the fullness of Christian calling is anything *other* than calling them inferior. I will not pretend that ignoring violence against gays and lesbians, while vigorously prosecuting action against them is loving in any way. I won't pretend that claims of "cultural difference" when applied to that violence, while calling for unity in hatred from TEC is anything other than hypocrisy. I won't pretend that any of that is "love."

You're right - courtesy is important. Some things override courtesy, because they are more important. Peoples sanity, lives and - perhaps - souls are being damaged and lost in this, so forgive me if I believe courtesy and polite pretense are neither applicable nor desirable.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 18 December 2015 at 5:02am GMT

John Bunyan, because I am in TEC, I am married to my partner of 24 years. We got married in our Episcopal parish with 175 joyous witnesses, awesome music, and a spirit filled liturgy. Our life together in covenant is blessed, our marriage is a sacrament, she is my best evidence of the Incarnation.

I really don't appreciate having my marriage disparaged, anymore than a straight person would.

If that's a problem for some people, well, people are entitled to their opinions. However, the minute there is discrimination, and rhetoric about not being equal, then that's an enormous problem. It is unjust, it exposes gay people to bullying and economic insecurity, it attacks our well being.

When gay people and our marriages are accepted and included, conservatives suffer no real harm. The opposite is not true. Which exposes the morality of the situation.

You can call for courteous conversation, but when the position is that my marriage is "wrong," that's deeply personal. And it's an attack.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 19 December 2015 at 7:15am GMT

Cynthia: "I am married to my partner of 24 years. We got married in our Episcopal parish with 175 joyous witnesses, awesome music, and a spirit filled liturgy. Our life together in covenant is blessed, our marriage is a sacrament."

Some of the most beautiful words I have ever read here.

And - like TEC itself - a beacon and a prophecy of what will come, over here in the Church of England... maybe not in all its churches, but in an increasing number of churches.

What you report, what you portray, is so precious and gracious, that I cannot 'not believe' that change will come.

In a world of separations, of hatred, of hurt... against all seeming odds... I believe, as in your personal life...

Love will win.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 20 December 2015 at 8:41am GMT

"Love will win."

Yes! Love will win. That is the meaning of this season of waiting for the Incarnation of Love who arrives on Friday.

Love will win. For LGBTQ people, for refugees, for the poor, and for you and me (although I am LGBTQ, I'm pretty white and fiscally secure). Love will win.

Love even wins beyond death (which we Greeks call the "reverse Incarnation"). Love wins.

It wins faster when we open our hearts.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 20 December 2015 at 8:34pm GMT

We were reminded on the BBC News website on Saturday last that Civil Partnerships have been with us for ten years. Ten years....and still the bishops of the C of E can't bring themselves to approve a form of blessing. What is so wounding is to see our leaders repeatedly throwing away one of the greatest opportunities for pastoral outreach they have had in decades, and all to placate fundamentalists who wish to dress-up prejudice as principle.

Posted by: Barry on Monday, 21 December 2015 at 10:43am GMT

"Ten years....and still the bishops of the C of E can't bring themselves to approve a form of blessing."

Let us hope against hope that the January primates' meeting will at last give the C of E some moral clarity.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 29 December 2015 at 9:12pm GMT
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