Comments: Participants reflect on the Shared Conversations

From a great distance - in ACANZP - I found the reflection of both Rose Grigg and Erika Baker to be hopeful of something concrete coming out of the 'Shared Conversations' in the Church of England.

Obviously, the time limitation - 3 days - might not have given enough scope for in depth group exploration, but one can see where the process is, at least, helping very diverse opinions to be aired and listened to

One would hope for a theologian on each side of the arguments to be able to give substantive input into the Biblical arguments, but this may prove difficult to find for each venue. It seems that the hermeneutical questions need to be more closely addressed - in the light of modern understandings of biology and societal learnings on the issues.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 3 May 2015 at 10:29am BST

I have always had hope, plenty of hope, even in the face, up-close, of the murder, outcasting and demonization of lgbti people like me. Trusting in the God is completely reassuring and has been for seven+ decades. After youthful active alcoholism, at 35, I didn't drink anymore. I found God wanted me to be the authentic person God created me to be...no shame, no defame, no weaving and dadging or self-pity and NOT even much explaining. Where else would I go if not to God?

I find that I still feel quite angry when discussing ¨people like me¨ with others who may have ¨people like me¨ wrapped up in defective/dirtyminded little packages covered with or without prayer. You, Erika Baker deserve an award for remaining calm and focused and fairminded during this 3 day ¨conversation.¨ Your willingness, in itself, is noble offering to those who exclude/harm others at The Anglican Communion/beyond. I am way past explaining myself to anyone but God (and that almost never has anything to do with my sexuality but more to do with my unwillingness to listen to ¨others¨ who whine about the ¨pain¨ they feel while strolling leisurely/safetly in and around the everyday lives of LGBTI Christians/others.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Sunday, 3 May 2015 at 2:22pm BST

I completely understand the various reasons why some feel they cannot be totally affirming of non-celibate gay relationships. And I'm glad that neither Rose nor Erika label such people 'homophobic'.

I understand the following person:

'and one who felt they would have to leave the church if it ever became affirming'.

But I think they are completely wrong and the church should not be influenced in the slightest by them. However, I'm also pretty sure it will be.

Posted by John at Sunday, 3 May 2015 at 3:25pm BST

Much gratitude to all the LGBT people putting themselves in the (verbal) CROSShairs here. "The LORD who sees in secret, will reward you."

Posted by JCF at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 3:48am BST

I have read both accounts and thank you from someone who is going into the conversations on 11th may. I really like what Rose said; 'What it showed me was not a clever political resolution, but the heart of the church: a commitment to listening to, respecting and loving every view and every person in this tangled, messy, conflicted, wounded family.' Your account showed much tenderness and love which is truly what Jesus intended for us to be. I do hope that I will be able to bring a contemporary biological and social science perspective to the conversations. Thank you, Clairejxx PhD.

Posted by clairejxx at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 5:33am BST

On Coronation Street tonight ( 8.30PM episode) gay vicar Billie lies to the Bishop about his relationship. 12 million Britons will now see the double standards of the "liberal" Church of England.

Surely this will change more opinions than this blog or polite conversations?

Posted by robert ian Williams at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 8:30am BST

wow, I am glad my very own Erika Baker was there and can give a very good account of what took place but you, Rose, just made my day with this comment " I suspect, for example, the my Bishop put me forward with a vague idea that I was evangelical and therefore more likely to be conservative. It’s not his fault I happen to be one of the only evangelicals in Cornwall who is also a flag-waving, rainbow-wearing lesbian."

Posted by Davis Mac-Iyalla at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 9:03am BST

Thank you for your commnet, clairejxx. You will at least offer something contemporaneously scientific to the next bout of 'Conversations'. This must surely have some effect on the exclusively sola scriptura presentations that will be made.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 9:55am BST

I'm just looking through the Dates and Regions for the Conversations and I noticed for the first time that some of the rounds take place in groups of 5 Dioceses (50 participants), some in groups of 3 (30 participants) and some in groups of 2 (20 participants).

It will be interesting to hear whether the number of participants impacts on the dynamics of the Conversations and how the participants experience them.

Does anyone know if there was a particular reason why, for example, London and Chelmsford could not have had their Conversations together with St Albans and Oxford?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 10:29am BST

I found both these articles interesting and encouraging. The ‘shared conversations’ (a gay friend asked how we could ever have conversations which weren’t shared) seem to have been really well prepared.
What comes across to me as the faultline is the absolute given of personal experience up against the absolute given of biblical texts. There is a long tradition of describing nature and scripture as God’s two books – I think John Chrysostom said it first. If this is the case, what now needs more attention is God. If God is responsible for our sexuality, and also for the Bible, and they contradict each other, what does that say about God? I doubt whether many Christians believe in a self-contradicting God. So there are two options. Either Augustine was right after all and our sexuality is an evil element, not of God, to be suppressed; or we have got the Bible wrong – either its meaning or its authority, or both.
Leonardo, I was intrigued by your comment ‘I am way past explaining myself to anyone but God’. I spend a lot of time asking God to explain myself to me.

Posted by Jonathan Clatworthy at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 12:05pm BST

Jonathan Clatworthy,
it's not even so much the faultline of the absolute given of personal experience up against the absolute given of biblical texts.

People from both sides of the debate were well aware that their experience and their reasoning shaped how they read Scripture.
And those from very conservative churches who were fully affirming were so because of their reading of Scripture.

It was really important to recognise that both sides take Scripture very seriously and see an absolute given way of assessing same sex relationships.

It was very encouraging to realise that not many used Scripture as a trump card and implicitly dismissed those who read it differently as being unscriptural.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 4:13pm BST

In reply to Erica's remark about the size of the conversations. London, Chelmsford, Oxford and St Albans are all fairly large population wise. I wonder if they are putting forward more conversationalists than other dioceses. Perhaps if Pete Broadbent is reading this, he may know something. At least what may be happening with regard to London and Chelmsford.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 10:00pm BST

I'm not Bishop Pete but my understanding is that the original model was designed for four dioceses at a time. If the number of dioceses in a grouping is larger or smaller, then the number of participants from each diocese is increased or decreased accordingly.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 4 May 2015 at 11:36pm BST

Robert Ian Williams makes a good point with regard to the Gay Vicar in Corrie. It is rather a shame that we didn't actually witness the encounter on screen between him and his bishop, then we might have been better informed as to what what said and what actually took place. All we heard was an account of the encounter relating this to his boyfriend at the back of the Rovers Return. They have had Royalty on Coronation Street before but I don't recall ever seeing a bishop on the programme (not that I watch it, of course!). Also there have been plenty of disastrous church weddings with various clergy in attendance. Then way back in the early black and white days, the formidable Ena Sharples used to play the harmonium at the Glad Tidings Mission. The only regular church goer is the aptly named Emily Bishop (nee Nugent).
Anyway, who is the bishop of the diocese which includes Coronation Street and Weatherfield? Is it not David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester? Surely, he would show more understanding and compassion towards his Gay clergy? But Mr. Williams is correct in assuming that this particular Soap Opera with its 12 million viewers is far more influential in forming people's opinions towards the Church of England than a few "polite conversations".

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 5:01am BST

As a little Corrie post script - how many remember Minnie Caldwell, Ena Sharples and Martha Longhurst sitting around the table in the Snug of the Rovers? That particular trio and the way in which they were positioned, almost inviting the viewer to join them, reminded me of nothing more than the Rublev Trinity.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 8:07am BST

The question about the Dioceses goes beyond the total number of participants.

We had some people who were well-known in their Dioceses and who felt less constrained in groups that did not include people from that Diocese.

If you only have representatives from two Dioceses the dynamics of the conversations could change quite considerably.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 8:49am BST

To my knowledge the only episcopal connection with Corrie is the Bishop of Jarrow who kisses the very cobbles, papal-style. He is the 'official' Church of England blogger for the Street.
https://twitter.com/corostreetblog/status/503871320820809728

Posted by FrDavidH at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 9:39am BST

In reply to Erica's remark about the size of the conversations. London, Chelmsford, Oxford and St Albans are all fairly large population wise. I wonder if they are putting forward more conversationalists than other dioceses. Perhaps if Pete Briadbent is reading tthis, he may know something. At least what may be happening with regard to London and Chelmsford.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Tuesday, 5 May 2015 at 4:16pm BST
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