Thinking Anglicans

Assistant Bishop of Bangor announced

News from the Church in Wales

Assistant Bishop of Bangor announced

One of the first women to become a priest in the Church in Wales will be consecrated as a bishop next month.

Mary Stallard, who has served as Archdeacon of Bangor for the past four years, has been nominated as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Bangor. She will share the leadership of the diocese while the Bishop of Bangor, Andrew John, serves as Archbishop of Wales.

Mary will be consecrated as a bishop at Bangor Cathedral on February 26. The new Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Lomas, will also be consecrated at that service…

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Bishop of Plymouth to retire

The Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel, is to retire in August 2022. Plymouth is a suffragan see in the Diocese of Exeter.

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Bishop of Maidstone to retire

The Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas, has announced his intention to retire on 2 October 2022 – see here (scroll down).

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Appointment of Bishop of Salisbury

Press release from the Prime Minister’s Office – there is more on the Diocese of Salisbury’s website.

Appointment of Bishop of Salisbury: 13 January 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Salisbury.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 13 January 2022

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester, for election as Bishop of Salisbury, in succession to The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam following his retirement.

Background

Stephen trained for ministry at Chichester Theological College. He served his title at Sherborne Abbey with Castleton and Lillington in the Diocese of Salisbury and was ordained Priest in 1989.

He became Vicar of Branksome St Aldhelm from 1992 and was additionally appointed Rural Dean of Poole in 2000. In 2001, Stephen was appointed Sub Dean of St Albans, and took up his current role as Dean of Gloucester in 2011.

Stephen is a Church Commissioner and Lead Dean for Safeguarding. He is married to Carol and they have three adult children.

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Third Church Estates Commissioner

News from the Church of England

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced the appointment of the Rev’d Canon Dr Flora Winfield as Third Church Estates Commissioner
11/01/2022

Canon Winfield was ordained deacon in 1989 and priest in 1994. She has worked in parish and cathedral ministry, university and military chaplaincy, ecumenical and Anglican Communion relations, and humanitarian diplomacy, representing the Anglican Communion at the United Nations. Canon Winfield is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Advisor on Reconciliation.

As Third Church Estates Commissioner, Canon Winfield will join the Church Commissioners for England’s Board of Governors and will chair the Mission, Pastoral and Church Property Committee and the Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee.

Welcoming the appointment, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “Flora has an exceptional record of service to the Church and will be a valuable addition to the Church Commissioners’ leadership.

“I am very pleased that Flora is joining the Church Commissioners, bringing to this role her breadth of ministerial experience, her extensive leadership and theological expertise and her service as a senior member of staff at Lambeth Palace.”

Commenting on her appointment, Canon Winfield said:” I welcome the opportunity to make this contribution to the life and work of the Church of England in a time of change, development and possibility, as we respond to Christ’s call to grow as disciples, building on our historic inheritance and looking forward together with confidence and hope.”

The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, deputy chair of the Church Commissioners, said: “Flora’s deep faith, experience with the Church at a local and international level and passion for furthering the Kingdom of God makes her an ideal Third Church Estates Commissioner. I am very much looking forward to working with her in this role.”

Canon Winfield has taught ecclesiology and church history and has published books and articles in the field of ecumenical theology. In 2010, she was awarded a DD by Virginia Theological Seminary for her 20 years of service to the Communion as a theologian.

Canon Winfield has been a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London since 2010, is a Director of the Anglican Alliance, is a member of Chapter at Bradford Cathedral, and a Trustee of the Community of St Andrew. She assumes the role of Third Estates Commissioner on 1 February.

Further information:

Particular priorities for the new Third Commissioner will be:

  • A review of the church legislation which establishes the Commissioners’ role for oversight of change at parish, deanery and diocesan level (Mission and Pastoral Measure review – read it here).
  • The establishment of the co-regulation of cathedrals by the Commissioners in an important new partnership with the Charity Commission.
  • Reaching the Church of England’s carbon net zero targets for 2030.
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Stephen Knott to be new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments

It has been announced from Lambeth Palace that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have appointed Stephen Knott as the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments, who plays a key role in the nomination of bishops and cathedral deans. He will take up the role at the end of January 2022.

The Lambeth Palace press release is copied below, and there is further information at the Church Times.

(more…)

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Dean of Bradford

The next Dean of Bradford in the diocese of Leeds will be the Revd Andy Bowerman. Here is the diocesan announcement.

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Bishop of Barking

The name of the next Area Bishop of Barking has been announced from 10 Downing Street. There is more information at the Diocese of Chelmsford website.

Appointment of Suffragan Bishop of Barking: 30 November 2021

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Lynne Cullens to the Suffragan See of Barking.

From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 30 November 2021

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Lynne Cullens, Rector of Stockport and Brinnington, in the Diocese of Chester, to the Suffragan See of Barking, in the Diocese of Chelmsford, in succession to The Right Reverend Peter Hill, following his retirement on 4th August 2021.

Background

Lynne was educated at Manchester University and trained for ministry at the Southern North West Training Partnership. She served her title at St Peter’s, St Stephen’s, St John the Evangelist and Holy Trinity, Congleton, in the Diocese of Chester and was ordained Priest in 2013.

In 2015, Lynne became a non-stipendiary minister at St John the Evangelist, Sandbach Heath, and was appointed Priest in Charge at St Andrew with St John the Baptist Church, Crewe in 2016.

In 2019, Lynne took up her current role as Rector of Stockport and Brinnington, also in the Diocese of Chester.

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Bishop of Willesden

The name of the next Area Bishop of Willesden has been announced from 10 Downing Street. There is more information at the Diocese of London website.

The Queen has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mission and Ministry Enabler, in the Diocese of Leicester, to the Suffragan See of Willesden, in the Diocese of London, in succession to The Right Reverend Peter Broadbent who resigned on 30th September 2021.

Background

Lusa was educated in Theology at the Faculté Universitaire de Théologie Protestante, Brussels and trained for ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He served his title at All Saints, Staplehurst, in the Diocese of Canterbury and was ordained Priest in 2009.

In 2012, Lusa was appointed Vicar at St Aidan, Gravesend, in the Diocese of Rochester and in 2017, he took up his current role as Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Mission and Ministry Enabler in the Diocese of Leicester.

He is married to Mirjam who works as Discipleship Officer at Leicester Cathedral. They have three young children.

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First Same-Sex Blessing in Church in Wales

The BBC reports that following recent approval by the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, the civil partnership of a priest in Llangollen and his partner was today blessed in a service led by the Bishop of St Asaph. It is believed to be the first such service in the Church in Wales. The Scottish Episcopal Church became the first Anglican church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages in 2017.

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News and comment on Church in Wales vote to bless same-sex marriages

News

Church Times Welsh agree to same-sex blessings in church

BBC Church in Wales to give blessings for same-sex marriages

The Telegraph The Church in Wales to bless gay marriages

The Guardian Church in Wales votes to bless same-sex marriages

Comment

Equal The Church in Wales will bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships

Charlie Bell Equal A fly on the wall

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British Methodists approve same-sex marriage in church

Here is the official Methodist press release: Conference confirms resolutions on marriage and relationships

Following prayerful consideration by the whole Church, the Methodist Conference has voted to confirm provisional resolutions on the principles or qualities of good relating, understanding of cohabitation and same sex marriages conducted on Methodist premises or by Methodist office-holders.

A report on marriage and relationships, ‘God in Love Unites Us’, was received by the Conference in 2019 and the local District Synods were asked to consider the provisional resolutions and report back to this year’s Conference which is being held this week in Birmingham.  The Conference received a report on the results of the local conferring which showed that 29 out of the 30 Synods confirmed support for the provisional resolutions.

The Revd Sonia Hicks, President of the Conference, prayed ahead of the main debate on Wednesday morning in Birmingham, asking that the Conference’s “words may be imbibed with your grace, with tenderness from on high.”

A range of views were expressed on the resolutions, in particular on cohabitation and same sex marriages. The Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, spoke to the Conference acknowledging the “depth of feeling, pain and anxiety that there is” with a commitment to work across the Connexion with District Chairs to heal divisions.

Speakers called for unity going ahead irrespective of the decision. Other speakers spoke of the acceptance of diversity that younger Church members have for each other with younger speakers relating their own lived experience as Christians from the LGBTQI+ community. Another representative asked that the Church does not ostracise those who oppose the introduction of same-sex marriages in the Church, saying the great majority of these people are trying to be faithful to Scripture as they see it.

The Methodist Church included other denominations and Methodist Churches across the world in the process of listening and consultation, with written submissions from ecumenical partners to the ‘God In Love Unites Us‘ report and workshops with global Methodist partners.

Following the vote on the provisional resolutions the Revd Sonia Hicks said: “The debate today and our wider conversation has been conducted with grace and mutual respect. As we move forward together after this historic day for our Church, we must remember to continue to hold each other in prayer, and to support each other respecting our differences.”

Church Times news report: Methodists agree to same-sex weddings in church

…The Conference, meeting both online and in-person at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham this week, voted 254 to 46 in favour of a resolution by which “the Conference consents in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises throughout the Connexion and by Methodist ministers, probationers or members in so far as the law of the relevant jurisdiction permits or requires and subject to compliance with such further requirements, if any, as that law imposes.”

This involved redrafting the Methodist marriage canon to replace the premise that marriage is between one man and one woman. The relevant standing order now states: “The Methodist Church believes that marriage is given by God to be a particular channel of God’s grace, and that it is in accord with God’s purposes when a marriage is a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of two people who freely enter it.

“Within the Methodist Church this is understood in two ways: that marriage can only be between a man and a woman; that marriage can be between any two people. The Methodist Church affirms both understandings and makes provision in its Standing Orders for them.”

BBC Methodist Church allows same-sex marriage in ‘momentous’ vote

Guardian Methodist church to allow same-sex marriage after ‘historic’ vote

Daily Mail Methodist Church becomes biggest religious group in Britain to say yes to same-sex marriages

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England has issued this Statement on the Methodist Conference Vote on Marriage Equality 30 June 2021

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England rejoices in and welcomes the news that the Methodist Conference has consented in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises and by Methodist ministers. The resolution was passed by a very large majority (254 to 46) after a long and impressive debate marked by a generous and kind spirit from both those in favour and those opposing the motion.

This means that the Methodist Church of Great Britain, which covers all of Scotland, Wales and England, will become the largest UK denomination that fully accepts marriage equality and will welcome LGBTQIA+ couples to marry in their churches.

The decision was taken, after many years of discussion and debate, on the basis of the Report of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019, God in Love Unites Us, which was discussed extensively at the 2019 Methodist Conference and commended for study and prayerful discussion throughout the Church through 2020.

The Campaign congratulates Dignity and Worth – our sister organisation in the Methodist Church – for their tireless work for this outcome.

We call upon the bishops of the Next Steps Group to ensure that proposals for marriage equality in the Church of England form part of their report in due course.

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Peerage for Sentamu

We reported in October on the coverage in the press asking why the recently retired Archbishop of York had not been given a peerage. The Prime Minister’s office has today released a list of Political Peerages 2020, and Dr Sentamu is included in the Crossbench section of the list. Despite the title of the press release, the crossbench nominations are for public service.

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No peerage for Sentamu?

Updated Tuesday

There has been a lot of coverage in the press over the weekend and this morning about why the recently retired Archbishop of York has not (yet?) been given a peerage. His three predecessors (Hope, Hapgood, Blanch) were. The three before that (Coggan, Ramsey, Lang) were all translated to Canterbury and in due course received the customary peerage for retiring Archbishops of Canterbury.

The Times Peerage snub for top black bishop John Sentamu

The Guardian John Sentamu peerage snub criticised as ‘institutional prejudice’

Independent John Sentamu: Former archbishop peerage ‘imminent’ after government accused of ‘blatant institutional prejudice’

Telegraph Downing Street insists life peerage for John Sentamu ‘imminent’ amid backlash over delay

Daily Mail ‘Snubbed’ archbishop WILL get his peerage: Downing St delayed honour for John Sentamu to make sure he wasn’t criticised by inquiry into child abuse

Yorkshire Post Accusations mount over peerage snub for former Archbishop of York John Sentamu

York Press Peerage snub for former Archbishop of York
John Sentamu peerage expected ‘imminently’ after criticism of Government

ITV Former Archbishop of York John Sentamu peerage expected ‘imminently’ after criticism of government

Update

Church Times Sentamu will get his peerage, government sources say

Yorkshire Post John Sentamu will have place in House of Lords after backlash over apparent snub

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Death of John Habgood, former Archbishop of York

The death has been announced of John Habgood, who served as Archbishop of York between 1983 and 1995, and before that as Bishop of Durham for 10 years. He was 91, and died on Wednesday, 6 March.

There is a statement from Archbishop John Sentamu here:

The sad news of the death yesterday of former Archbishop of York, John Stapylton Habgood, comes as northern bishops gather for a Diocesan mission in Liverpool. As a hugely distinguished scientist, theologian and philosopher, Archbishop Habgood’s faith in Christ gave him a particular perspective and a persuasive witness both to church and nation for his time. His many books simplified big and complex questions, revealing an incredibly perceptive intellect. I’m very glad to have confirmed his grandchildren and dedicated a room in his honour at Bishopthorpe Palace.

His towering presence, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, was a gift to all who knew him. My prayers are with his family at this time. May he Rest in Peace, and rise in glory.

Further coverage at the Church Times and the BBC.

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Faith and Sexuality Survey results published

The Ozanne Foundation has published the results of the 2018 National Faith & Sexuality Survey. There is this Press Release  which summarises the results:

SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS REPORTS OF SIGNIFICANT HARM EXPERIENCED BY LGBQ+ CHILDREN OF FAITH WHO ARE SUBJECT TO “CONVERSION THERAPY”

The 2018 National Faith & Sexuality Survey has revealed the high level of mental health issues reported amongst people who have attempted changing their sexual orientation, with many sharing they have attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts. Over half said they first attempted to change whilst they were 18 or under with many stating they were influenced by their religious leader. 22 people said they had been forced to undergo sexual activity with someone of the opposite gender. These attempts were reported as being overwhelmingly unsuccessful, with the primary motivations given for attempting to change relating to either religious beliefs or internationalised homophobia.

The survey, the first of its kind in the UK, was designed to understand the impact of religious belief on people’s understanding and acceptance of their sexual orientation. It ran during December 2018 and attracted over 4600 responses, of which a tenth (458) stated they had personal experience of attempting to change their sexual orientation. Over half of these said they had experienced mental health issues, of whom nearly a third (91 people) said they had attempted suicide while over two-thirds (193 people) said they had had suicidal thoughts. Two in five of those who reported mental health issues indicated they had self- harmed and a quarter said they had suffered from eating disorders. Few said they had sought advice from the medical profession but instead nearly half said they had sought advice from their religious leader, who was identified as being significantly more likely than parents to be the person to advise or force attempts at sexual orientation change…

…The report is being presented at a lunchtime fringe meeting at the General Synod on February 21st 2019 ahead of the Church of England’s own presentation of its proposed “Pastoral Principles” for pastoral ministry among LGBTI+ people in the Church.

The full set of results can be downloaded here.

The survey questionnaire can be downloaded here.

The full Executive Report can be downloaded here.

Media coverage is being collated over here.

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Schools get advice on dealing with LGBT issues

The Church Times reports on a project to help faith schools with educating pupils on LGBT issues:

LGBT plan for faith schools released

A TEN-POINT plan to help children deal with LGBT issues at faith schools has been released as part of a report into the LGBT charity Educate and Celebrate.

The study, written by Dr Anna Carlile, a researcher in the Department of Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, collected interview and focus-group data from five representative schools where Educate and Celebrate had worked.

Educate and Celebrate works with faith schools and schools that serve faith communities to help them understand the LGBT community. Their ten-step process is: first, to “begin with a one-off anti-bullying assembly, which builds staff confidence”; and, second, to “embed the Educate and Celebrate materials across the curriculum and within the school environment, with full usualising achieved by the end of the school year”.

The full text of the report is available here.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that many faith leaders are signatories to an open letter to the Department for Education, urging them not to weaken the draft guidance for independent schools:

Don’t back down on LGBT guidance, faith leaders urge DfE

More than 50 faith leaders, education experts and rights advocates have said young LGBT people would be at increased risk of bullying in schools if the government waters down draft guidance in response to pressure.

The Department for Education has issued draft advice to independent schools, saying secondary school children should know about “protected characteristics” under the 2010 Equality Act, which include gender reassignment and sexual orientation. Primary school children should be “aware of the ways in which people can be different and be respectful of those differences”.

The full list of signatories is below the text of the letter: All schools should encourage respect and LGBT acceptance.

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OneBodyOneFaith recruits new Executive Director

We’re Hiring!

OneBodyOneFaith is an ecumenical organisation with over forty years of history campaigning for full LGBTI+ inclusion and affirmation within the life of the church. Over the last three years our Chief Executive Officer supported by the Board of Trustees has focused on a new name and branding, sustainability and identifying a clear strategy reflecting our unique place in this area of work.

We are very excited for a new phase of growth, development and challenge and are seeking a leader who can work in partnership with the Trustees to enable this to happen. As part of our desire to ensure the sustainability of our work we have redefined the Chief Executive Officer role and are looking for a hands-on Executive Director.

Full details can be found in the job description below together with an application form and equal opportunities monitoring form.

For an informal conversation about the role please contact the Chair of Trustees, The Reverend Canon Peter Leonard at chair@onebodyonefaith.org.uk

Completed application forms to be emailed to hello@onebodyonefaith.org.uk

Closing date for applications: midday on Wednesday 23rd January 2019.

Interviews will be held at the OneBodyOneFaith offices in Newark on Thursday 7th February 2019.

Executive Director Job Description

Equal Opportunties Monitoring Form

Application Form

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Faith and Sexuality Survey

The Ozanne Foundation has today announced this:

The 2018 Faith & Sexuality Survey  is designed to explore the impact of religious belief on people’s understanding and development of their sexual orientation and identity.  It is as such not designed to understand in any depth people’s gender identity.

It is open to all individuals living in the UK who are over 16 and should take about 10 – 15 minutes to complete.  Please be assured that your responses will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

To take the survey go here.

The research project is being managed by the Ozanne Foundation and is  being overseen by an Advisory Board that consists of:

Dr Jamie Harrison, Chair of the House of Laity, Church of England
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism
Martin Pollecoff, Chair of UK Council of Pyschotherapists
Teddy Prout, Director of Community Services Humanists UK
Khakan Qureshi, Founder of Birmingham South Asian LGBT+ – Finding a Voice
Professor Sir Bernard Silverman, Former President of the Royal Statistical Society
Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester

The survey will run until December 31st 2018 and the results will be presented at a fringe meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England in February 2019.

The December 9th 2018 Press Release is available here.

For more information please contact survey@ozanne.foundation.

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Christians and Muslims protest Blackpool visit of Franklin Graham

Harriet Sherwood reports in the GuardianMuslim group calls for preacher linked to Trump to be denied UK visa:

Britain’s leading Muslim organisation has called on the Home Office to refuse a UK visa to a prominent US evangelical preacher with links to Donald Trump and a track record of Islamophobic and homophobic statements.

Franklin Graham, the son of the evangelist Billy Graham, has been invited to preach at a Christian festival in Blackpool this month.

The preacher, who said Trump’s election victory was evidence that “God’s hand” was at work, has called Islam “evil” and “wicked”, claimed Barack Obama’s “problem is that he was born a Muslim” and said Satan was the architect of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

The Muslim Council of Britain has joined three MPs, including a government whip, in demanding the Home Office apply its criteria on hate speech to Graham’s visa request…

Meanwhile, other Christians in Blackpool have issued this press release.

INCLUSIVE CHRISTIANS TO RESIST FRANKLIN GRAHAM

Christians in Blackpool are planning a series of inclusive services to protest against the visit of a controversial preacher.

Coinciding with the Festival of Hope at which American evangelist Franklin Graham will be principal speaker, the Rainbow Weekend aims to stand in solidarity with LGBT people of faith and resist what they believe to be a message of intolerance.

Mr Graham has previously courted controversy for his views on Islam, transgender people, women’s rights, and same-sex relationships – claiming Satan is behind same-sex marriage. He is also an outspoken defender of Donald Trump.

Mr Graham’s visit has led to local MPs Gordon Marsden and Paul Maynard expressing concerns about the Festival of Hope, with Mr Marsden suggesting Mr Graham’s views constituted hate speech and were “incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible”. A petition asking that Mr Graham is not granted a visa gained more than 8,000 signatures.

The Rainbow Weekend, a series of inclusive services and a prayer meeting on 22nd and 23rd September, is a collaboration between inclusive churches in the town and Open Table, a network of LGBT-affirming churches across England and Wales. During the weekend ‘Big Jesus’, a 4-metre high representation of Jesus wearing a rainbow sash, will be on walkabout in the town centre with a message of Jesus’ love for all people including LGBT people. ‘Big Jesus’ has walked in Pride parades throughout the UK from Brighton to Glasgow with the message that Jesus always spent time with marginalised people and would welcome and embrace the LGBT community.
In addition to affirming LGBT people, the Rainbow Weekend will also represent a Christian act of solidarity with Lancashire’s Muslim communities in the face of Mr Graham’s dangerous anti-Islamic prejudice.

Andrew Page, an elder in the United Reformed Church and one of the organisers, said: “Inevitably there have been calls for Mr Graham not to be allowed to preach in Blackpool. No doubt there will be people loudly protesting Franklin Graham and the Festival of Hope. Some of us as Christians wanted to send out a positive message that Mr Graham does not speak in our name. We are countering Mr Graham’s toxic rhetoric by welcoming and affirming LGBT people and others excluded by his version of Christianity.
“And so we have the Rainbow Weekend. We’re welcoming and including those who Mr Graham would marginalise. It’s going to be a great time of faith, celebration and affirmation.”

Nina Parker, the pastor of Blackpool’s Liberty Church, said: “As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech.” She added that Mr Graham’s presence would be “extremely destructive in the area” especially in relation to interfaith relationships.

The disappointment with local churches was echoed by Claire Fox, a Christian who lives in Blackpool. She explained: “The disappointment for me isn’t that Franklin Graham is coming to Blackpool but that churches in Blackpool have invited him. They have not withdrawn their invitation despite knowing what damage they are doing. Much work was done to build bridges, and it seems that the organisers of the Festival of Hope have treated all these efforts with contempt.”

Tracy Charnock, the vicar of Holy Trinity South Shore, said: “I would like to make known my deep disappoint in local Christians and senior leaders of the Church, who have shown support (often through their silence) towards a man who has, on many occasions, preached hate. I rejoice in the diversity of this town of Blackpool and I hold the utmost respect for peoples of any faith or no faith. It’s also wonderful to celebrate the strong LGBT presence in Blackpool that makes this town so vibrant. I thank God that he has created us and loves us for who we are. I pray that this will be the resounding message of the Rainbow Weekend.”

Andrew Sage, the vicar of St Stephen’s on the Cliffs, added: “We are so nervous about this visit and the damage it will do. We cannot stay silent in the face of such dangerous and outspoken prejudice. To be clear. we are not against the Mission, but we are opposed to Franklin Graham leading it. To our minds, remaining silent is not to remain neutral, and is not an option. We wish to make it clear that the invitation to Franklin Graham to come to Blackpool is ‘Not in our name.’ How else would we be able to look our Muslim and LGBT brothers and sisters in the eye?”

Kieran Bohan, one of the co-ordinator of the Open Table network, said: “We are happy to support this and see such good partnership in solidarity against a divisive message from the mis-named Festival of Hope. We believe that the affirming celebration of the Rainbow Weekend is a perfect act of non-violent resistance.”

The Rainbow Weekend will begin on Saturday 22nd September with an inclusive communion service at Holy Trinity Church in South Shore (at 5pm), followed by an evening prayer meeting at North Shore Methodist Church (from 7pm). Sunday 23rd September sees a Songs of Praise event hosted by St Stephen’s on the Cliffs Church, including a thanksgiving service for people working in theatre and entertainment (at 3pm). The weekend culminates with a celebration service of informal, contemporary worship at Liberty Church (on Sunday at 6.30pm).

Blackpool Tower will fly the Rainbow Flag and be lit in rainbow colours throughout the weekend to show support for the LGBT community. The Rainbow Weekend organisers are delighted the Council have clearly demonstrated their support on one of Blackpool’s busiest Illuminations weekends, when thousands of people will come to the resort for the World Fireworks Championships on the Friday evening.

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