Comments: press reports on new CofE marriage document

What kind of managerialism talks about devising and providing "pastoral care accommodation''?

Posted by Tony Phelan at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:10am BST

What a dreadful document - not only patronising and offensive to gay people, but to children growing up in single parent families and adoptive families of varying kinds, it is full of meaningless and unverifiable assertions, it reads like a poor GCSE paper. Grim.

Posted by sjh at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:29am BST

The church's "immutable" definition of marriage? When, exactly, did the definition referred to in this report become "immutable"? When did the Church of England first define marriage? The first Prayer Book? Was the definition mutable before then? The answer is, "yes." The definition of marriage is mutable throughout the Bible and official marriage only applied to nobility and, later, landowners for the larger part of English history. Now, however, according to the luminaries who presented this report, the Church's definition of marriage is immutable.

Who needs a pope and a magisterium when a committee can declare a doctrine about a sacrament to be immutable? If I were an LGBTI member of the Church of England, I would not be able to stay after this. Of course, in that situation, most would have left before me. Why on earth do you tolerate this arrogance from your bishops? Not to mention how stupid it is to make declarations that most people with a little education know are utterly false. It is a tragedy that there is not a catholic Church in England that respects the dignity of LGBTI persons and our loving relationships.

Posted by karenmacqueen+ at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:47am BST

Slowly, so slowly the bishops are being forced to concede that gay marriage and blessings in Church of England churches should happen. This report is another inch along the way.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:59am BST

What are 'gay prayers?' Are they written in 'polari'? And look at the related stories underneath the Express article. Two of the three are about clergy sex abuse. Just showing the depth of ignorance and prejudice of that newspaper.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 10:00am BST

I usually pray in Polari - when going beyond Welsh and english.

How do these bishops manage it ? Further evidence in the direction of scrapping bishops as we have known them ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 10:53am BST

So Anglican same-sex couples will continue to have to go for a public civil partnership in a secular venue or in another denomination (URC, Quaker, Unitarian) because the most they'll get from the CofE is a clandestine, un-formalised "blessing" by a sympathetic vicar. And there's the awful language if the document that same-sex couples are in some kind of pastoral need to be accommodated for.

It's like a liturgical version of cottaging. A sad and shameful day for the Church of England.

Posted by Tim Moore at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:02am BST

Confusing indeed. What exactly is "pastoral care accommodation"? I'm all for compromise, but it would be nice if the Church of England could for once speak in plain English. What exactly do they intend to offer same-sex partners if not the gift the church has traditionally offered to all couples seeking the blessing and the ceremonies of the church? And how can the church justify offering the sacrament of marriage publicly to non-Christians, yet refuse even a public blessing to gay Anglicans?

Posted by rjb at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:26am BST

This is an appalling report and shows nothing of the love of God. Still it is there and we can use it to push back the barriers a bit further.

We CAN bless people but call it something else! God will not be fooled . Press on

Posted by Jean Mayland at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:36am BST

Thank you for the ever truthful comments of my brother priests. Jean we shall continue with Gods grace to show His love for all, in the way He directs us. Ooops time for mid day prayer.....the heart of the priest , gay or otherwise.

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:59am BST

Pastoral care accommodation is being incredibly compassionate to the victims of your prejudice.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:04pm BST

All the reports are correct because the CofE is now trying to face both ways at the same time.

It's an improvement on facing backwards, but not as good as facing forwards.

And the Church still looks pretty silly, which is a problem, because it cannot bring people to God until it makes more rapid progress towards credibility.

Posted by badman at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:12pm BST

Fudge, fudge; Nudge, nudge; Wink, wink! When will the Church come to understand that the public are not fooled by doubler-mindedness on the part of its doctrinal commissions.

While one might be tempted to rejoice at this obvious turn-around on Same-Sex relationships, the Church can hardly escape the charge of hypocrisy.

Until the Church 'comes clean' about the reality of homosexuality as part and parcel of the human condition, and therefore needing to be properly accommodated by Church and society, there will always be this unfortunate tendency to practise equivocation and legerdemain in this area of ordinary people's lives.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:13pm BST

What a superb exercise in prevarication. There's only a couple of small paragraphs about civil partnerships in the document and no one in the press knows whether the CofE has moved slightly to the right or to the left. Meanwhile the bulk of the document is a clumsy pile of complementarian cum theology-of-the-body offerings and no one bats an eyelid. Do straight couple have to believe this now to enter marriage in the CofE, that it is a quasi-sacrament instituted by God in paradise? that it has a clear biblical foundation despite what article 25 asserts? and what the heck is 'progressive mutual completion offering healing and growth.'

Posted by Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:59pm BST

Isn't it time that liberal clergy finally started resigning?

When the conservatives lost on women's ordination 300 or so went over to the RCs or Orthodox (ok 20 came back later). But only one Liberal has ever resigned over the CofE's rejection of gay relationships.

That makes liberals seem lack the courage of their convictions.. taking its money is, in practice, condoning the CofE's stance!

Posted by RevDave at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 1:00pm BST

For some years I have held firm to a line that it is `being in communion with the See of Canterbury' that defines a church as member of the Anglican communion - as distinct from allegiance to some kind of doctrinal, moral, regulatory or other code.

It's kinda hard to feel bothered when I see the CoE bending over forwards to make itself increasingly irrelevant to society - first women not-bishops, now this reiteration. What use is a wheel if the axle has rotted away?

Posted by Tim at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 2:12pm BST

I like to think that I have a large degree of "inoffendability", but the noughties was an odd decade in which I attended several CofE weddings of atheist friends yet could have my civil partnership only "prayed about", and that privately.

My feelings aside, what - of value or love - does this publication say to the infertile couple? To families with one active parent? To the newly-widowed mother or father? To those who have grown up within the pain of an abusive or otherwise difficult traditional family environment, in which some other pattern would have been far preferable and healthier? What does it say to any common and unique human experience that does not fit the "better standard" of "man, wife, children"?

There are, I think, many family circumstances beyond the "immutable norm" which the Church could gaze upon and choose to say "here is good, and we bless it". For its own sake, i wish that it would.

I withdrew from the communion of the Church of England last year. There are harder and better responses, I am sure, but it felt too peculiar to continue to support it with my resources and association. Nevertheless, I'm gladder today that I did.

Posted by Jonathan Bell at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:02pm BST

Oh, I get it! (bang my head against a cement wall for greater clairty) Let's us talk turkey (or for Americans ¨gobbledygook¨)...marriage is only for the most illustrious member of humanity who has a penis or vagina but only loves and/or is ONLY intimate with those who don't have them?

Let us do a more thorough background check...that's right, take them togs off, let us see thy penis and thy vagina!(tell us how you intend to use them, or not use them)

Once again I stand on the sidelines of a lifetime of high-brow-doubletalkers, talking deceit. I watch as frightened and excusefilled heterosexuals(?) scurry around pretending that God loves them in a spiritually healthier way than God will, or could, ever love a Gay me.

The Silly Geese have done it again. Thanks, but no thank, for tossing me a few scraps of vague meaning from your gilded communion rail of blame, fear, discrimination and shame.

Please know, if you care to listen, that the God of my Anglican/Episcopalian understanding will take good care of me, and those whom I love, as God always a regular Christian and not a religious defective.

The powerless and self-serving religiouslike quakery of demonizing LGBT people is fading into the sunset like a destructive storm that has finally cleared and moved away.

You, yes you, will not kill the wholesome spirit of LGBT Anglicans/Episcopalians with slanderous words of difference and cowardly/punishing deceit.

Time to face reality.

Leonard Clark/Leonardo Ricardo

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:04pm BST

All I can say is it is known to be one of the attributes of the very Devil - all that is against the love of God - to confuse. I am becoming increasingly ashamed to call myself a CofE Anglican when their various statements afford no clear loving dignity to over half their members, not to mention all those we are called to serve.

I suppose Priests may conduct services of blessing at will - given that the guidelines are so obscure. The powers that be may have a hard time challenging this. It remains sad that this could be seen as an act of rebellion rather than a God given grace. William Law is the Saint of the day and I discovered this which for me really speaks to the heart of the matter:-

'[App-1-127] You deceive yourself with fancied notions of the goodness of God; you imagine, that so perfect a being cannot damn you for so small a matter, as choosing a religion according to your own notions, or for not joining yourself with this, or that religious society.
[App-1-128] But all this is great ignorance of God, and nature, and religion. God has appointed a religion, by which salvation is to be had according to the possibility of nature, where no creature will be saved, or lost, but as it works with, or contrary to nature. For as the God of nature cannot himself act contrary to nature, because nature is the manifestation of himself, so every creature having its life in, and from nature, can have only such a life, or such a death as is according to the possibility of nature: and therefore, no creature will be saved, by an arbitrary goodness of God, but because of its conformity to nature, nor any creature lost by a want of compassion in God, but because of its salvation being impossible, according to the whole state of nature.'

Other posters need not reply trying to quote other writings of his to the contrary because I won't be persuaded otherwise! God's love and compassion for his unique image in every human being will never be gainsayed by any religion.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:36pm BST

'It's like a liturgical version of cottaging.'

Posted by: Tim Moore on Wednesday, 10 April 2

No, it isn't. 'It' makes no sense at all !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:59pm BST

'Isn't it time that liberal clergy finally started resigning?

When the conservatives lost on women's ordination 300 or so went over to the RCs or Orthodox (ok 20 came back later). But only one Liberal has ever resigned over the CofE's rejection of gay relationships.

That makes liberals seem lack the courage of their convictions.. taking its money is, in practice, condoning the CofE's stance!'

Rev Dave, Please don't call for resignations and don't assume that only one liberal minded priest has ever resigned over this issue. I am heterosexual and my Bishop knew exactly why I resigned and could no longer be in the pay of the CofE having witnessed terrible abuses. I nevertheless pray it will not be the call of others and firmly believe it is important for supportive LGTB clergy to remain in post. We note that the Holy Spirit is giving great wisdom and insight to those who speak in favour of equality and now is the acceptable time for their voices to be heard. We hope for more of this, especially from Bishops.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 7:29pm BST

When an institution advocates for hypocrisy, it's difficult to know exactly what it's "really saying".

June Butler

Posted by Grandmère Mimi at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 8:19pm BST

The options have become clearer. Anglican same-sex couples, even if civilly married, would not be allowed public recognition for their families--no matter how many years they have been together. Their options are civil partnership (eventually civil marriage at register offices)or civil partnership/marriage at religious venues which permit. The C of E remains in the closet.

I would choose the register office without religion rather than accept stigmatization from an uptight religious institution.

But I could be missing something. I married in Montreal seven years ago and have been with my husband for thirty years. I may not understand that there may be glimmers of hope in this overtly dismal report. One learns to get along without the religious institutions.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:01pm BST

'Isn't it time that liberal clergy finally started resigning?

I know 3 who have done so over the last few years.
They go quietly and with a heavy heart.
They don't make a big song and dance about it like the opponents of women priests did.
But maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if they did.
It's about time the church realised how damaging its policies are to so many people.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:29pm BST

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You. We post those signs all over town. For a long time it didn't mean us, us as women, or us as LGBT persons. But finally, it does mean us, all of us.

I pray that CoE can make that journey. As far as I can tell, the only thing in the way are your moronic bishops on the Faith Commission, regarding LGBT, and a General Synod that does not accurately represent the majority view on WBs. Your people are so awesome and I pray that you either overcome the politics or let your awesomeness shine through so brightly that it can't be ignored.

Some on TEC blogs are pretty incensed and no longer attached to the idea of being in communion with a leadership that is so rotten. But I think we should pray for one another, support one another, and speak truth to every power we can collar.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:58pm BST

Perhaps it is instructive to compare today's report with two paragraphs of an interview with Archbishop Welby.

JW: I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that. I think that where there is… I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way… you know that the love that there is is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say. And civil partnership is a pretty… I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage…

JW: We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life. And it’s such a radical change to change that I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.

I detect two different messages.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 10:37pm BST

I agree, Cynthia. "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" finally means what it says. I feel so glad to be an Episcopalian. But I'm afraid that I'm among those who have ceased to care as much about the Communion as I used to. British society won't wait for the CofE to catch up.

Posted by Old Father William at Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:02pm BST

Rosie, I respect you for your decision to resign over the CofE's repeated rejection of same-sex relationships as not equal to marriage.

Erika, isn't it a bit sad that only 3 liberal clergy have had enough conviction to resign? (plus, maybe, another I knew of in Oxford about 10 years ago, plus now Rosie - so maybe that's 5).

Still falls far short of the several hundred conservatives ca. 1992, plus those who went over to the Orthodox in the 1980s in a quieter fashion.

Posted by RevDave at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 12:39am BST

The Episcopal Church in the United States is not uniformly liberal. Diocesan bishops can prevent parishes from blessing same-sex couples. And while nine states and the District of Columbia now allow civil marriage equality, the denomination has begun to prepare blessings for same-sex couples. But these are not to be marriage. Same-sex couples are prohibited from using the rite in the Book of Common Prayer.

Women may become bishops but many of the big parishes still hire men for top leadership posts is what I have heard. I hope I am wrong.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 4:42am BST

"A report from the Church’s doctrine watchdog urged priests to devise “pastoral accommodations” for gay couples” and to be “flexible”. It said the aim was to enable them to enjoy a “closer approximation” to marriage."

Mrs Parks, why so upset? We're "flexibly" "accomodating" you w/ this perfectly functional BACK-of-the-bus---acknowledging your "close approximation" to being human!

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 7:05am BST

you credit me with an omniscience I do not have. I personally know 3 liberal clergy who have resigned. I thought that was actually a shockingly high figure if you consider that I am tucked away in a small rural village and don't go out much!
Because these are not people I know "of" or whom I have come across on the Internet but actual people I know personally.

If that is a pattern elsewhere, then the flight of liberals from the church should be deeply troubling for everyone who still values depth and diversity.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 7:54am BST

We liberals do not resign. We stay in the Church and fight for change


Posted by Jean Mayland at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 11:00am BST

Jean, but will people believe you are really committed to liberal beliefs if you aren't prepared to act on them in a way that costs you (like some liberals have, but many more conservatives, in the UK and US)?

Posted by RevDave at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 12:55pm BST

believe us that staying in the church as it is is hugely costly!
I can see that it would be lovely for you if we all left, but costly witness can take people out of the church as well as keep them hanging in there in the faint hope that God might use them as an agent for change.

Don't be quite so quick to judge!

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 1:33pm BST

Rev Dave Be careful not to confuse 'hissy fit' resignations of many who were not happy being Anglicans in the first place. Some may have left their stipendiary posts over this issue but have not laid aside their orders. The bullying culture and personal sensibilities in particular situations were complex factors some years ago and led to some sad situations as Erika is aware. In my small corner I know of others. I remain an ordained priest. Jean is right and ten years on has brought much enlightenment and hope.

Is it a good time to organise a well thought through statement signed by those of us who are not in accord? It stikes me it would not be short of signatures, especially as many Anglicans have doubtless helped to fund this pernicious document - unwillingly and definitely unwittingly.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 1:57pm BST

Revdave said: "When the conservatives lost on women's ordination 300 or so went over to the RCs or Orthodox (ok 20 came back later). But only one Liberal has ever resigned over the CofE's rejection of gay relationships."

Those 300 or so were given generous compensation packages, (which those who came back were not required to repay). Not only did this make it possible for those people to leave without too much hardship, it also meant that numbers were recorded. No compensation package has ever been offered, or even suggested, for women priests who decide they can no longer stomach working in a church which can't make up its mind whether it wants them or not, or for male colleagues who no longer feel they can work in the church, or LGBT clergy who have watched the stance against them hardening in recent years.
I am quite sure there have been many liberals (and others) who have left - I know several myself - but as there is no mechanism for counting them, they are invisible, as are the many lay people who stop coming to church, or never join because they see an institution which discriminates against women and LGBT people.

Posted by Anne at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 5:12pm BST

Is it a good time to organise a well thought through statement signed by those of us who are not in accord? It stikes me it would not be short of signatures, especially as many Anglicans have doubtless helped to fund this pernicious document - unwillingly and definitely unwittingly.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 1:57pm

This is a very good idea, Rosie, it seems to me.


Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 5:18pm BST

"as are the many lay people who stop coming to church, or never join because they see an institution which discriminates against women and LGBT people."

And there, of course, is the crux of the matter. Making sure that women and gays stay at the back of the bus is an obsession of elderly conservatives, no-one else. As endless American writers are pointing out in relation to the loss of young people from American conservative churches as soon as they are out of their parents' control, few people under forty are willing to align themselves with perceived homophobes. "Living in sin" is not even worth discussing. And sexist assumptions about a woman's place (whether dressed up as "complementarity" or "polarity", or rather more blatantly as "headship") sound like your grandmother's dinner table conversation.

So churches are stuck on the horns of a dilemma. Either they can attempt to behave respectfully and sensibly towards women and gays, which might upset a few elderly and/or conservative and noisy members. Or they can continue to keep those people happy, at the expense of making themselves irrelevant to anyone born after 1970. It's a fairly simple choice, and the CofE has made it pretty clear in the voting at the last Synod and the document under discussion that it's happy to alienate prospective members of the future so long as it keeps people who are, realistically, a dying generation happy.

Which means extinction.

Posted by Interested Observer at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 9:47pm BST

Laurence - I detect that there has been a lot of silencing and suffering in silence. I tend to search for purpose in this. 'She would wouldn't she'! I am drawn to Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch's new book about Silence and Christian History and have just ordered it as he has suffered enough to be a pretty good prophet in these searching times. What interests me is how many pro equality folks are popping up right now and using clear plain speaking that is actually touching hearts and minds – in very fresh and creative ways - unlike a lot of the official rubbish we are reading. Those who are making the most impact are honest about their personal histories and courageous concerning their own vulnerability in this power struggle. For those of us who are not LGTB it is a minefield as even supporters get lambasted for not getting terminology or deeper understandings sensitively phrased. It is difficult for us to get under this skin if you get my meaning. I can appreciate some of the suffering just by virtue of the hatred I experienced after delivering fairly gentle sermons. What is genuinely troubling me to screaming point is the CofE continuing to dish out stuff without any formal input from LGTB Christians. How do we find a way of ending this nonsense sooner rather than later would seem to me to be important right now – and I really do believe NOW. CofE voices gathered together rather than being stuck on a kind of 'naughty step' in isolation.

There are plenty of skilled and experienced Anglicans on this forum who may like to consider how to construct a response. I tend to respond best to soundings that contain elements of story as well as the academic historical social/science stance and it is important to recognise the limited knowledge of some lay people who are being led up this garden path. We should learn lessons from November. Simple truths do not indicate stupidity. As long as ignorance is allowed to prevail we will only have ourselves to blame for the outcome. Silence is no longer golden and is the cancer at work in the Cof E at present. Judith Maltby may have a view on this. Over to better minds than mine and I will carry on praying.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 11:15pm BST

Gary Paul Gilbert:

In point of fact there are American dioceses where clergy are now permitted to officiate at Marriage liturgies in those states where the laws have approved gay marriage. The Blessing rites approved by General Convention are no longer the only rites operable in those situations. BCP marriage rites sometimes with alterations, sometimes without, are in use.

As of October 2012, the Bishop of the Diocese of New York authorized his clergy to officiate at gay marriages, given the state's recognition of same. Thereby, the priest celebrant functioned in the same manner as has always been the case for heterosexual marriages: namely, as the civil agent of the marriage.

Since then the Bishop of Washington DC has allowed the same provisions and I believe that the Diocese of Maryland is considering or has approved similar provisions.

Gay marriages in churches, presided over by Episcopal priests, duly recognized by the state as licensed to officiate at Marriages, is now in fact occuring.

Posted by Bob McCloskey at Friday, 12 April 2013 at 2:10am BST

Hear, Hear, Rosie!

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 12 April 2013 at 4:24am BST

wouldn't it make sense for those who want to change the church NOW to talk to some of the groups who have been active in this for a long time? I'm thinking of Changing Attitude, LGCM, Inclusive Church, for example. It might make more sense to strengthen the voice these still relatively small groups have and to use some of the communication channels, their stories, their accumulated theology and structures they have already established than to start up another new group.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 12 April 2013 at 7:32am BST

Erica et al here are some of my musings - Yes this would be a great start and is exactly what I would envisage and I am sure would be welcomed. I imagine this needs someone to make contact who already has personal rather than simply on line connections. Perhaps find a comfortable venue for face to face presentations and discussions and space for listeners and observers. I would also suggest mostly CofE participants or we risk being diverted, however valuable other Provinces experiences??? Discuss! Colin Coward and Jeffrey John both seem to me to present their truths calmly and simply in public and they too would certainly know of those who would make good representations. Giles Fraser has pretty wide worldwide experience I think. Some input could be in the form of recorded interviews if planning quickly is problematic.

I can think of three CofE Bishops who would be great and who are good at keeping conflict at bay in order to bring out measured views rather than sensationalist ones. They all have a sense of humour which helps whilst remaining seriously pro-active. There are some senior women who could be approached. The groups you suggest are bound to have LGTB members with heartwarming, sorrowful and courageous stories. These academic dogma laden experts really do need to know who and what they are drawing up spurious plans for. They need to learn rather more about Love than they are prepared for at present. It is just not good enough for our ABC to describe relationships as 'Stunning'. Umm, so stunning that they can be knocked out and dismissed with a caution. Cont...

Posted by Rosie Bates at Friday, 12 April 2013 at 1:05pm BST

Thanks so much , Rosie. I see. I can appreciate the difficulties and pitfalls to some extent, but probably with insufficient empathy or wisdom.

I think your kind of approach, getting people together, forming concensus and offering encouragment to all - straight and lgbt in this endeavour makes good sense.

I too, feel lacking in necessary abilities - I may have had and now lost some. But I have been as honest and open as I could (or even more than I could really) all my ordained ministry and most of my life. So I hope it helped someone and fed into greater acceptance and love of lgbtq.

Most of the Churches are, of course, maddening and especially the C of E and RCC ! But I rejoice in the developments in many societies around the world, towards LesGay Liberation and all forms of human sexual and spiritual-cultural flourishiing- tempted to call it the spirit at work -in my more pietistic / unguarded / optimistic moments ! Not that my rationalisations of the phenomenon really matters much.

Hoping I have made sense- and thank you for your inspiring, honest, kind and encouraging posts on TA.


Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 12 April 2013 at 6:59pm BST

Gary said: The Episcopal Church in the United States is not uniformly liberal... Women may become bishops but many of the big parishes still hire men for top leadership posts is what I have heard. I hope I am wrong.

Gary is partly right. The same independence that allowed New Hampshire to elect a gay bishop has the capacity to indulge bias toward men, or women. The trend is overwhelmingly toward inclusion, but I don't know if we are at full equality, probably not. We do have a female Presiding Bishop and she was a first in the Anglican Communion. The election process is quite broad, so it is an indicator of the "mind of the church."

The inequalities happen at a more local level. The optimistic view is that it gives people time to move, or not, at their own pace.

My diocese seems overwhelmingly female, both rectors and deacons. My parish does Same Sex Blessings, but not all do. Our diocese is a bit behind in that, but my parish is OK.

Chances are that the bigger and richer parishes are also more conservative. In general, but not always. That would cause women to note the "stained glass ceiling" and also account for disparities in pay.

I don't believe it's important to be uniformly liberal. However, the national policies must be affirming and just. The implementation can take God's good time, and it's moving fast in the liberal direction in many places. What's important is that each diocese has enough variety to nurture people where they are.

Bishops are elected and some dioceses are more conservative than others. In a way, this serves the majority of the locals, but of course, it can leave some feeling unaffirmed - this works both ways. I've been on both sides of this. This is not as flexible as a parish, you don't usually move to another state to go to a more liberal/conservative church!

Even so, this can work out. I was in the very conservative Diocese of Southern Colorado, but I could go to a wildly liberal parish with an amazing woman priest.

This is a messy picture.The people who've left could not tolerate the tolerance of others. But I think many parishes can and have stayed the same as ever...

It's unfortunate for those who are stuck. I feel their pain. "Trending well" doesn't help those without work and feel under valued.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 12 April 2013 at 7:57pm BST

Part 2

I sense a need for a considered response before June because who knows what is in store in July. We know Anglican Mainstream are busy. Transparency about aims and objectives would be key. Right now we have no idea of the scale of support but I am happily convinced the Holy Spirit does.

Is it important to prioritise the most urgent issues that might come to pass more speedily? Full permission for Blessings in churches with PCC approval for instance? The Marriage discussion is still exploratory and does need to be addressed.

I do seriously fear that the powers that be have a notion that LGBT members are a small group in a kind of ghetto like manner - or this is what some would hope for and try to police. The big question is - is this what we are actually perpetuating and even creating ourselves? I reflect that I have in my small corner had vast experience of worship and discussion with LGTB members for over thirty years. This so called minority affects every aspect of our worship and daily lives and for the most part I have been enriched in my understanding of lively community under God. I also realise many of us have gained insight by our mistakes and misunderstandings which is also valuable. Working together is the way ahead. Jesus gathers all the fragments. I am a little fearful that the devil is enjoying the springing up of new groups which in the case of both Women Bishops and LGTB may have a somewhat diluting and delaying effect with perhaps a little too much space for personal ambition rather than the common good - this has always been a weakness in any church where good groups can soon become factions.

There are a number of us on this forum alone who seem to desire to be drawn together more cohesively.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 12:19am BST


I like your proposal about talking. The issues are just too abstract for most people, since CoE doesn't seem to listen to LGBT persons or groups. If it's any help, I'll be in the UK in July and early August. I can't represent the whole TEC, but I've been a member of our LGBT group, Integrity and can Witness personally. Better than that, I could try to find a far better representative. I know a couple of really dynamite people who have worked on this for years in TEC. Truly holy people.

Just let me know. Any number of excellent people would likely jump at the excuse to visit England. Dialogue would be such a breath of fresh air after Rowan...

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 6:02pm BST

Cynthia, I am not in a position to organise anything as I am retired and stuck in a backwoods part of Diocese of Europe - whole Diocese signed up to 'the backwards in doubt' Forward in Faith!

Church Times telling Anglicans to ignore statement is one thing but delaying a joined-up response to what lies behind seems foolish.

What about an 'Open Letter' to ABC with LGBT and heterosexual input? I spent time in three Cat A Prisons as well as parish and I am convinced that after in depth work with paedophiles and their victims that the Original Sin is not allowing people to own their sexuality in the first place. Added to this is the complex problem of institutional psychopathy and the bullying and silencing. I have witnessed awful experiences of this in both CofE and RC hierarchy who did their best to silence me in high profile cases. I won and so did the victims but it was costly and painful to the extent of physical violence against me. I don't say this to blow my own trumpet - it is Christ's trumpet and does he wish us to blow it is the question to put before God.

It would need someone to set the process up with good computer facilities which I don't have. Do you know Colin Coward personally?

Apart from Inclusive churches and some Cathedrals there are huge areas of the country where deadness and empty pews prevail. My children and grandchildren can't cope with the prevailing atmosphere. They think we are damaging as do many other youngsters and adults.

Without naming names I could write a paragraph.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 9:13pm BST

Cynthia, My previous post doesn't mean I don't accord with your idea of July/August get together. Seems good to me and the Holy Spirit. Go for it!

Posted by Rosie Bates at Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 9:20pm BST

Bob McCloskey, that there are dioceses which currently allow priests to serve as agents of the state to preside at the civil weddings of same-sex couples shows progress in the Episcopal Church, but even relatively liberal dioceses, such as New York, have dragged their feet. Bishop Mark Sisk waited until 2012 to allow priests of the Diocese of New York to serve as agents of the agent for same-sex couples, whereas the nearby dioceses of Long Island, generally moderate, and Newark had already done so. Sisk waited for General Convention to give him more coverage. The Bishop of Rochester was far more open-minded and pro-active.

It is very wounding for gay people not to be guaranteed equal treatment from diocese to diocese. And when we won civil marriage equality in New York, it seemed to me some of the bishops were more interested in how to discipline their priests living with same-sex spouses as in raising the question of whether they should be made to get civil marriages. And then the Diocese of Albany won't allow anything.

I don't think straight people would put up with an institution which is this inconsistent toward it. The blessings being developed by the national church are not to be called marriage and one may not use the Book of Commmon Prayer.

I admire those who have the patience to try to reform this sort of institution but in general I have begun to think that doing without the institution makes more sense for many people.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 4:03am BST

I hear you Gary. The best I can say is that things have moved very far very fast. So perhaps the church wide justice that you seek will be there soon.

One thing that keeps me deeply involved in the church, despite the injustices, is the love and support that I receive in my parish. And the work we do to be a healing force in our neighborhood and the world. Together, our little parish has an impact, and we're growing rapidly with people who also yearn for justice - especially young families who do not want to raise their kids in a bigoted environment. These people are our future and it looks bright.

For me, the draw to be in community is stronger than the anger and hurt over the very real injustices. I hope that you have strong and loving community.

Just a little note. In the short time I've been living in and out of the UK, the local CoE church was also full of loving and accepting people. Accepting me and my partner. The body of Christ is so much more than the, er, um, jerky leaders.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 15 April 2013 at 4:33am BST

Thank you, Cynthia. I find the parish community more important than priests and bishops. I also am moving away from sacraments. If there is a sacrament it is the people gathered.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Tuesday, 16 April 2013 at 8:46am BST


Thank you for your recent reply to my prior response to you. I stand duly corrected on the chronology of events surrounding the celebration of gay marriages in TEC. Thank you also for citing the dioceses which pre-empted NY in this matter, including my former diocese of Long Island, where at one time I was Chair of the Liturgical Commission! I do appreciate your frustration with institutional gridlock concerning the title of the proposed marriage rite[s] in future BCPs. Personally, Long Island's commended form for marriage of gay couples is very close to the current BCP as I read it and contains the type of linguistic alterations which I would and have used.

Your frustration with the institutional church is well-founded on these points and probably a lot of other issues which I share with you. Retirement has put an increased severity on my feelings about it. Having had hosts of gay couples and dear friends in my former parish and several gay/lesbian clergy colleagues I truly do grasp your feelings and share them. 'At the end of the day' you are correct: community is the primary raison d/etre for the church as other respondents have noted.

Having lived part-time in the UK for two decades and assisted in C of E parishes, I know that that is the only thing providing consolation and sustenance for many of my clergy and lay friends there - especially in the outrageous mess of the past couple of weeks. Godspeed and prayers in your continuing struggle to find personal meaning and place through these issues. You are not alone.
Pax, Bob McCloskey

Posted by Bob McCloskey at Tuesday, 16 April 2013 at 9:06pm BST

Thanks for this:

"BCP marriage rites sometimes with alterations, sometimes without, are in use."

Yes, after all the effort at GC to assure themselves that these rites are not BCP rites nor marriage rites, of course they would end up being both! So much for rubrics and for canon law. It is every person doing what is right in their own eyes, in the refrain of Judges. Why does GC even bother convening? It costs a lot of money and there is no point in believing anything like 'order' is the possible outcome anyway. Though we were instructed that in play were provisional, non-marriage rites (whatever that may be) that didn't last but a week or so.

Mark Harris's call for free association makes a lot of sense. All the way down.

Posted by cseitz at Tuesday, 16 April 2013 at 10:32pm BST

Thank you, Bob, for your response! I respect that you speak from considerable experience, which encourages me about the institution.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Wednesday, 17 April 2013 at 8:30am BST
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