Thinking Anglicans

Rebuilding Communion

In last week’s Church Times Bishop Kenneth Stevenson reviewed the book to which I contributed a chapter, Rebuilding Communion: Who pays the price? From the Lambeth Conference 1988 to the Lambeth Conference 2008 and beyond Peter Francis, editor.

The review was published under the headline Telling it like it is.

Read more about the book here.

Bishop Stevenson writes:

IT MUST be hard to be gay and Anglican at the moment. After a largely hidden history, Anglican gays now find themselves the subject of open discussion, caused partly by a greater general readiness to talk about issues of sexuality, and partly by activists in the gay community speaking up for their rights. Sadly, the majority of them feel excluded from this discussion, and some of them even echo what some Jews used to say in Nazi Germany — “Don’t champion us, because it will only make things more difficult for us.”

A turning-point in England was the General Synod in February last year, when gay members fearlessly spoke up for themselves in a chamber that had not hitherto heard from them in that way.

This timely little book opens with an essay by Simon Sarmiento chronicling events, resolutions, and decisions about homosexuality in the Anglican Communion over the past decade. His personal views are clear, but the facts he describes are indisputable. There is a hardening of the line in many places, with some obvious exceptions.

There follow six essays from different continents, telling personal stories about what it is like to be gay and Anglican — the African perspective is particularly significant. And a third section is made up of six further short contributions, including one from Martyn Percy on Anglican history and attitudes, and one from Michael Ingham, arguing in favour of something that is still too far for many sympathisers: the same-sex blessing.

This book needs to be read far beyond the confines of the gay community. In some ways, it provides a worldwide Anglican counterpoint to those speeches at last year’s Synod. Those who are deaf, or over-ready to condemn, need at least to recognise the historic pain that this increasingly vocal minority brings to the discussion table. Whatever our views, we should all be ready to condemn homophobia, as Cardinal Hume used to remind us.

I voted for Lambeth 1.10 on that desultory Wednesday afternoon in 1998, and I have regretted it ever since. As these essays show, it has become far too blunt an instrument; moreover, the “listening process” for which it calls should have been well under way by the time Archbishop Rowan Williams arrived at Canterbury.

Here’s hoping that we can be helped to locate exactly where our disagreements lie, and to find an authentically Anglican way through them.

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Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Don’t champion us, because it will only make things more difficult for us” – This quotation from the Gay Community by the episcopal reviewer, who admits his own mistake in voting for the prohibition against gays at the 1998 Lambeth Conference – is a very pertinent statement in the present circumstances of the gathering of bishops at Lambeth. This is the legacy of generations of unwitting (and unwilling) hypocrisy on the part of the Church, with regard to the presence of gay priests in active ministry. What has happened in the American Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Church of… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Bishop Kenneth Stevenson: “something that is still too far for many sympathisers: the same-sex blessing”

I *get* that. It’s a weird-looking phrase—for what, exactly?

…which is why I’m for a (far more conservative) alternative: simply opening up ***good ol’ marriage*** to EVERY faithful Christian couple, regardless of plumbing or chromosomes.

I swear, one of these days, we’ll wonder that the Church agonized for one *second* over doing anything else!

Counterlight
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“Don’t champion us, because it will only make things more difficult for us.”

I’d just like to say how very grateful I am to all of those who have voluntarily made our cause, their cause. It is your shining example that keeps me with this church, especially in times of despair.

Thank you all!

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

This book (and the conference) grew out of conversations and joint work done by Peter and Richard Kirker, LGCM’s retiring Chief Exec. It’s great to see such a positive review of the essays from Kenneth Stevenson along with his honest reflections of his own part in this sorry tale. I also have pleasure in having commissioned the seminal piece from Simon that forms the core of this work. Simon has a special way of telling the story. LGCM has made a huge investment by sending this book to all the Lambeth bishops – nearly all the gay bishops there keep… Read more »

Treebeard
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Treebeard

Well, yes the book is welcome. The support of Kenneth stevenson & his repentence is very welcome. (It undermines that damnable resolution further.) The support of straight people for lgbt people (long overdue)is welcome too. But it is all too little — far too late. (How many lives have been ruined since 1998 ?) But you have not succeeded in winning over the strident and too vocal homophobes who have been ‘tearing the fabric’ of gay hearts and lives and anglicans churches of late. And what of those bishops who signed a minority letter of dissent from’1.10′, and of apology… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Treebeard “But you have not succeeded in winning over the strident and too vocal homophobes who have been ‘tearing the fabric’ of gay hearts and lives and anglicans churches of late.” You never will. The real conversation isn’t with them at all. The real conversation is with those who have not yet made up their minds, and with those who are simply listening to the conversation and have hearts and minds changed by it. I personally know at least 3 priests who have changed their views about homosexuality because of the appalling way conservatives have argued their position. Sadly, those… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Erika speaks wisely.

Treebeard a good idea, we must get one of the remaining principle leaders behind the letter to organise the others ……

His name …… Rowan Williams.

Cheryl Va.
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“The real conversation is with those who have not yet made up their minds, and with those who are simply listening to the conversation…” Yes, in part. The real outcome is with those who would create societies where all are safe and all are offered justice. The “evil” secular state that protects gays from bashings, removes children from unsafe homes, and protects parishioners from molesting priests. The real healing is demonstrating what has been happening and asking each and every Christian and witness if they approve of such conduct. Are they for or against tyranny, repression, greed, abuse and deception?… Read more »