Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
Press release from the Church of England:
Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
12 July 2016
Over the last 2 days members of General Synod have met in an informal setting in which they have listened and been heard as they have reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality.
Throughout these conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. The Shared Conversations over the last two years now come to a conclusion with over 1300 members of the church directly involved. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.
In comments to members of Synod at the end of the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“At the heart of it is to come back to the fact that together we seek to serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and in whom there is never despair, there is never defeat; there is always hope, there is always overcoming; there is always eventual triumph, holiness, goodness and grace.
That is for me what I always come back to when it all seems overwhelming.
Thank you so much for your participation. Let us go in confidence. Confident in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”
Posted by Peter Owen on
Tuesday, 12 July 2016 at 6:38pm BST
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Church of England
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Good to know that Archbishop Justin is "confident" that "the God who raised Jesus from the dead" will allow the Church of England to rest in peace.
C of E official line:
"the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements..."
You mean like sanctioning those you disagree with?
One is still left wondering what will be the practical outcome of this intensive 48-hours of deep conversation. In other words: "Quo Vadis"
My that was depressing...thanks for suffocating the subject of "shared Conversations " Archbishop Justin of Canterbury. Let's ALL go off now and have another snooze until REALITY and OUR version of the Holy Spirit agree. Do not disturb.
After all the talking is done - what happens next?
Where now after all the blood sweat and tears? Only God knows.
I thought this was a very brave and creative thing to do - certainly unique in the midst of the usual Synod way of working. So I am grateful for the initiative and those who led it. Perhaps if we do not know what is next it means the future is genuinely open.
What does I stand for on the end of LGBT?
I stands for intersex. There's a bit of disagreement about who is within T and who is within I (long story including obscure case law) but the simplest is to see T and I as a spectrum. At one end of T are transvestites like Grayson Perry and at the other end in I are people for instance born with both male and female genitals.
You may also see Q which stands for Questioning rather than queer. There are also people who identify as polygender or ungendered which is why it is all often abbreviated to LGBT+, LGBTI* or similar.
As a participator, I would urge TA readers to avoid caricature and pre-conceptions of outcomes. I - and I think many - recognised the complexity of the issue and most of us valued the opportuntity to engage in a different, but genuinely synodical way, with those we disagree with. We heard varied international voices reminding us that the enormous cultural differences that exist around the communion have led to different outcomes. We heard LGBTI voices that expressed ways of living together with difference and integrity. And we all know the painful cost of failure if we cannot find a way of living together across difference. As a gay priest in the Church of England, I want to remain part of a church that allows such difference to exist. The outcomes are not win/lose.
I agree with Simon Butler that it isn't. or shouldn't be, win/lose. As I have said before, in my view the main issue is not to win the "Who is right?" argument, because that argument is unwinnable and there will continue to be others who in honest and sincere conscience believe their version is right.
No, to me, what surely matters more is love and grace. The way we treat each other. I do indeed want a church that allows difference to exist, but my conviction is that God's test in these matters is probably not 'Who is right?'... but 'Will you open your hearts to my love and my grace, and seek the other person's prosperity and flourishing, in faith, even if his views are different to my own.
That in my opinion is the basis of 'good disagreement'.
Of course, this view also implies disappointment if church leaders try to impose a uniformity on a Church (or priests) that do not have uniform views, and that has been the general direction of recent Pastoral Letters and Primates' Meetings.
Unity in diversity - 'a church that allows such difference to exist' as Simon puts it - implies remaining in communion in Christ, and even if we express faith in a multiplicity of ways, we still need to find the love and grace that is the very nature of God, and desire to live in community and service, not in a dominion of one another.
"The outcomes are not win/lose."
I appreciate your perspective Simon. But please don't lose sight of the real losers, vulnerable LGBTQI people. The rhetoric that God hates fags, or that we are definitely disordered, or second class children of God, not loved quite as much, exposes us to a lot of abuse. For CoE to be a healing force, it has to affirm, love, and included LGBTQI people. How to be the Good News while still holding those who insist on being the bad news is surely a significant task, but I urge CoE to be the Good News on this.
The discussions feel to me, from the outside, like a polite talk amongst well-heeled people, where no one is going to lose too much. But there are people who for whom the Good News is a matter of life or death, and I wonder if they have a place at the table? I doubt it.
"but my conviction is that God's test in these matters is probably not 'Who is right?'... but 'Will you open your hearts to my love and my grace, and seek the other person's prosperity and flourishing, in faith, even if his views are different to my own. "
These convoluted words should have read:
"but my conviction is that God's test in these matters is probably not 'Who is right?'... but 'Will you open your hearts to my love and my grace, and seek the other person's prosperity and flourishing, in faith, even if his views are different to YOUR own.' "
In reply to Cynthia, that is a very acute point: very probably, although I suspect many of us here have faced hostility, abuse, marginalisation... at the same time most of us probably also enjoy degrees of privilege compared to the really vulnerable and socially isolated...
...and if we think of Jesus's nature and approach, almost certainly these were the people He offered a place at the table. Would that our Church would become the same, so that even if people feel reviled and looked down upon, at the Church they may experience community, respect, worth, inclusion and love.
Seriously asked question:
Can you really believe that the question of LGBTI lives and loves is really on a par with, say, prayer book reform, or questions of Real Presence?
I ask because I can see living with people who deny my understanding on the latter, can live with the oft-tragic-and-graceless stabs at the former, but I need to be clear that I can't share so intimate a space as my family (which is what church is) with those who refuse to accept an intrinsic part of my *selfhood*.
I echo Fr David's question: what now?
"The outcomes are not win/lose."
I think either seeing liberals/conservatives as winners/losers or feeling a compromise is possible, are both inherently liberal views.
Reading the views of those who attended shared conversations, most liberals, I believe, see this as about two factions in the church so can talk about the notions of conscience and compromise. For conservatives though it is about being faithful to the teaching of Jesus (as they see that teaching) and they see the issue as about truth, not conscience, about objective right and wrong (and see compromise as equivalent to wrong). It is for them about the truth either winning out or losing.
Put more simply, liberals think this is about people and conservatives think this is about ideas.
Walking together, I suggest means conservatives need to become more sympathetic to people but liberals need to engage with the idea that there is an +objective+ right and wrong rather than individual conscience and that compromise is not a desirable outcome.
I don't see that as the distinction. The allowance for compromise is not a belief that there is no right or wrong, it's a recognition that people of good will can arrive at different conclusions about what is right and wrong.
In any case there are plenty on the "liberal" side (and I often in my heart find myself among them) who see this as a justice issue and feel about compromise the same way they'd feel about compromise with anti-miscegenationists. There's a big part of me that tends towards the view that God's love can't be compromised and that injustice cannot be tolerated in the name of unity.
"Walking together, I suggest means conservatives need to become more sympathetic to people but liberals need to engage with the idea that there is an +objective+ right and wrong rather than individual conscience and that compromise is not a desirable outcome."
Kate, this is an eloquent statement of the divide, and I think you are correct. Liberals are often adept at holding to "epistemic humility" and uncertainty, while for others the issue is limned out in high relief of good/bad right/wrong.
There is a wonderful passage in the judicious Richard Hooker on "the need for some authority" -- that is, about who and how such conflicts and disagreements come to be settled. The classical Anglican solution has been nicknamed "fudge" and probably rightly so, as it involves crafting rules and policies that are sufficiently ambiguous to embrace a range of opinions. (The Elizabethan BCP is a classic example.) So, on the basis of your schema, Anglicanism is, at base, "liberal" in the sense of "comprehension rather than compromise," or what some like to call "the big tent."
This was not satisfactory to some, including those dubbed "Puritan" who held to a more exclusivist view. Hooker's argument is that such matters reach a settlement when the legitimate synod makes its decision; even if that decision is not to decide. Of course, questions can return to the synod for review and revision; but in the interim, life goes on, and living peaceably is a witness to the power of Christ-with-us.
I can't help feeling that the real conversation happened after the sharing as delegates more used to expressing themselves via the great vanity projects (where 'good disagreement' is an alien concept) led by Facebook and Twitter did more realistic 'sharing' with friends and acquaintances. I don't suppose the outcome of this expensive exercise - if there is one - will filter down to the Faithful most of whom welcome one and all without prejudice and are wondering why a portion of their weekly giving is being squandered by the holy fools who manage the Church of England.