Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Liverpool speaks about blessing civil partnerships

From the Diocese of Liverpool press release: Bishop James Presidential Address March 2013:

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones has said that it maybe time for the church to ask the question about the blessing of civil partnerships. In his Presidential Address to the Diocese of Liverpool Synod the Bishop said “if the Church now recognises Civil Partnerships to be a just response to the needs of gay people then surely the Church now has to ask the question whether or not it can deny the blessing of God to that which is just”…

The full text of his address is available here (PDF).

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Erika Baker
Erika Baker
8 years ago

“I believe that there is a difference between heterosexual union and same gender intimacy and that it is appropriate to maintain that difference in the language we use.” Only, it is not up to him, or to any individual, to insist on how language should be used. Language changes organically, not because a bishop allows it to or agrees with it. In popular parlance gay people have been getting married ever since the first civil partnership. That, precisely, is the driver behind the Government moves to introduce same sex marriage – to most of us, there is no difference any… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
8 years ago

Yes, very well done Bishop.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9934686/Senior-Church-of-England-bishop-calls-for-gay-union-blessing-services.html

As Justin ewlby and others are so very, very keen on Civil Partnerships, this is the only logical, honest and BS-free (relatively) option.

Over to YOU Archbishop.

john
john
8 years ago

James Jones doesn’t go as far as some of us want, but he’s thoroughly decent.

Kelvin Holdsworth
8 years ago

Too little. Too late. Too half-hearted.

Cynthia
Cynthia
8 years ago

It’s a beautiful letter in many ways. I love the bit about “God hates nothing he [s/he] has made.” I know this is a huge step forward for a CoE bishop, advocating to bless Civil Partnerships. However, it is unfortunate that he would still withhold the Sacrament of Marriage from LGBT Christians, and oppose legal marriage equality. He’s right on in many ways and just can’t take that last step, even though he brilliantly observed that prejudice is an original sin. The example he used of Jesus rebuking men for trying to stop a woman from ministering to him is… Read more »

Jean Mayland
Jean Mayland
8 years ago

He is a good man who has changed and developed his ideas during his ministry and is quite capable of moving further. I would like him to have been Archbishop for five years and put off his retirement until 70.He would have sorted out a lot of things

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
8 years ago

Cynthia, I’m not even understanding how this is a huge step forward. Of those who participated in the Government Consultation process on same sex marriage and who were currently civil partnered, 87% said they would convert their CPs into marriage, 6% said they would not and 8% did not know. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/about-us/consultations/equal-civil-marriage/consultation-response?view=Binary (Page 43) I would assume that Christians with their sacramental understanding of marriage would be highly likely to convert their CPs the minute they are allowed to. So the church is about to set out a new policy on a type of relationship that will have all but disappeared… Read more »

Rosie Bates
8 years ago

‘Too little. Too late. Too half-hearted.’ Kelvin, This is sincere from the Bishop of Liverpool, after much thought and some significant interaction from one of his past Chaplain’s and others. A well publicised story. We are all searching for truth in God’s good time and it doesn’t help to have our heads in progressive Kairos time without allowing others to to catch up. All supposing we are in Kingdom time at any point – which is always open to debate. We should try not murder other’s positive thoughts before they have had a chance to surface and be widely read… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Craig Nelson
8 years ago

The Church of England is caught in a contradiction.

It has been banging on about how supportive of civil partnerships they are. Yet now a bishop about to retire makes a statement supporting civil partnerships and it creates a stir. The two simply don’t add up on any level.

Pepper Marts
Pepper Marts
8 years ago

“… if the Church now recognises Civil Partnerships to be a just response to the needs of gay people then surely the Church now has to ask the question whether or not it can deny the blessing of God to that which is just…” Jesus described for us the reign of God. We chose the Church instead. Since before the end of the 2nd Century that body has claimed for its clerics authority in a great many areas, frequently ignoring Dominical injunctions. I would suggest that the Church has not the power to “deny the blessing of God.” God will… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
8 years ago

Rosie, I have no doubt that the Bishop of Liverpool is sincere. So is Justin Welby. I’m very pleased for them as they make their personal journey towards understanding what equality for all is about. And I’m pleased for the church if it, as an institution, is also taking another step on that path. But I’m not grateful or about to dance in the aisles. It’s a great step forward for them, it’s not a great step forward for me. They are still not seeing me as truly equal, they are still not welcoming us on the same terms as… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
Concerned Anglican
8 years ago

Remarkable and courageous.

However, if another prominent evangelical, namely the new Archbishop of Canterbury, can describe the election of the new Pope as ‘amazing’, I’m afraid that James Jones will remain something of a lone voice.

Cynthia
Cynthia
8 years ago

Erika, I was trying to be generous, for once. My understanding, which could be flawed, was that the CoE originally opposed Civil Partnerships. So this recent support would be progress. Perhaps I’m mistaken? Much of this played out in TEC a decade ago, but we’re still not totally agreed on the Sacrament of Marriage (some Dioceses are doing it where there is legal marriage). Even though Same Sex Blessings are resolved at the national level, they are not necessarily settled in every diocese. If our Supreme Court rules in favor of federal marriage equality, then TEC is going to be… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
8 years ago

I think that Bishop James Jones has gone “just about as far as he can go” – as the old song has it- considering the circumstances. Within the strictures of the Church of England, we are still ‘stuck’ with the idea of heterosexual-only Marriage: Until, and unless, that is changed by General Synod, I guess not too many bishops (or even potential bishops) are going to be willing to put their heads above the parapet. Government has promised that it will not try to force the C. of e. to change its doctrinal status. Therefore, we are in a situation… Read more »

JCF
JCF
8 years ago

Anyone else notice the pattern? With each step toward full equality, the Church 1) fights the new step and 2) declares the *previous* step (which they had fought, when it was new) to now be acceptable—and sufficient.

It’s a pattern which relies on the observing world’s amnesia.

And, in its maudlin muddling, it does not boldly proclaim the Gospel.

Rosie Bates
8 years ago

Erica, I’m grateful, but I’ll sit the dancing bit out with you any day of the week until the rest enlarge their vision.

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
8 years ago

I suppose I have heard the “you’re welcome here but only on our terms” message for so long that I cannot help but hear it still. And I’m in no frame of mind to accept that any longer. I’m an adult Christian and I do not need a bishop to decide, on my behalf, what kind of relationship he may or may not allow me to have or what he personally may or may not approve of. I’ll be glad for them if they are taking their first steps towards full acceptance. I will be glad for myself once they’ve… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Rosemary Hannah
8 years ago

I think Erica has nailed it – good for them, personally. Nothing for justice.

Cynthia
Cynthia
8 years ago

“I will be glad for myself once they’ve completed their journey.” This reminds of the choir director of a black Episcopal parish who’d been asked one time too many if she could bring the church choir to some larger church event so that blacks and “black music” could be represented. She said: A. They can learn to sing the songs themselves; and B. racism is a white problem, they need to work it out themselves. While I clearly believe in the power of Witness, both Erika and this choir director are on to something in saying that “they need to… Read more »

Kelvin Holdsworth
8 years ago

I’d be interested in hearing from any gay clergy or readers in relationships or Civil Partnerships from the diocese of Liverpool who might tell us how things have changed in that diocese in recent years.

Presumably they feel more supported by their bishop now. Yes?

Craig Nelson
Craig Nelson
8 years ago

By asking the question he puts the onus onto others to say why the church cannot bless civil partnerships when it supports them. Hence come up with the arguments why not if you have any. I actually think this is a very potent way of putting it (after some reflection). On a more personal note I have no doubt Bishop Jones is a person of deep integrity who has both changed his position and spoken out about it. I don’t feel grateful to him for it (it is after all only half the journey, though probably the most important half)… Read more »

Robert Ellis
Robert Ellis
8 years ago

Come on give the poor man a chance….he can’t win. Not everybody moves at the same speed and we don’t always get it right…..but he is slowly getting there.
Anyway haven’t some of us already been blessing Civil Partnerships for quite a while? It’s surprising how much you can make it look like a Marriage with a bit of imagination….exchange of gifts (rings) and solemn vows and a public announcement. Can thoroughly recommend “The Service of my Love” by Jim Cotter for anyone wanting to bite the bullet and start doing Civil Partnership blessings.

MarkBrunson
8 years ago

I frequently hear “not everyone moves at the same speed,” but, in the case of churches worldwide and across the denominational spectrum, what it reminds me of is *Futurama* with Dr. Zoidberg telling Leela, “Go on! Leave me! Save yourself!” and it pulls back to show him clinging to her ankle to be dragged along and saying, “Save yourself quicker!”

Not moving at the same speed is one thing – expecting everyone else to stay behind and hold your hand, another.

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