Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 29 May 2019

Helen King sharedconversations Intersex in history

Janet Fife Surviving Church Coming to terms with the Bible

Richard Peers Quodcumque – Serious Christianity My story: 25th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women – to live is to change.

Elaine Bielby Diocese of York Twenty-Five years of women as priests in the Diocese of York
Three of the 39 women who were ordained priest in York Minster in May 1994 write about their memories of the day .

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love I repeat: The Church of England is systemically abusive

David Pocklington Law & Religion UK Different perspectives of the CDM

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Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

Colin Coward says the Church of England is “systemically abusive”.

Sadly, I would concur with that.

It is the system which operates which is at fault – not those working within the system.

But this question remains unanswered:

Who controls the system and to whom are they accountable?

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Colin has written another heart-felt post and, given his experience and long-term commitment to radical inclusion, his posts deserve careful reading. I have frequently found his posts insightful and I value his voice. I’m trying to think my way through to the heart of where he is at with this, and anyone can detect the anger and frustration and exasperation, but he is frustrated not only with the Church of England ‘establishment’ but with those who identify as LGBTI* who he feels are colluding with what could indeed be seen as systematic abuse. The LLF process comes in for particular… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

Susannah asks: “What in practical terms should we do?”

I’m with Wilfred Owen here: “All the poet can do today is warn”.

That can be very practical in its wisdom – something seriously lacking in the higher echelons of the Church of England…and beyond.

Colin Coward
Guest

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Susannah. You were the only person I noticed who raised the idea that the motive of conservatives might be that they hold a fundamental objection to anything that normalises or validates transition. I would extend that to include anything that normalises or grants equality in the church to lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex people. Some of the people I talk with experience shocking levels of prejudice and abuse at parish, deanery and diocesan levels. That’s why I have generalised my comments on abuse in the church to every level of the institution. It also… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
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Richard W. Symonds

“a person may need to find a congregation that is able to nourish and enrich, or we may need to leave the institution and seek spiritual nurture elsewhere, or rest in our own spiritual practice, which as a contemplative is where I have ended up” ~ Colin Coward

Richard Sipe – author of the 1995 book “Sex, Priests and Power – an anatomy of a crisis” – also ended up leaving the Church:

“The church is an institution. It’s passing. My faith is in the eternal. I try to separate the two”

Jenny King
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Jenny King

I have followed the comments and writings on this with interest. I am a transwoman in TEC in Ohio. I have a very affirming church, that means so much…helped save me. It is such a seemingly harmless thing. Yet the reaction is full of false suggestions of harm to children. Reaffirmation of faith after a major life transition…I have little doubt Ian Paul, The letter the meeting is about blocking trans acceptance. If it was any other person wanting that expression after an important time in their life, no one would object. I appreciate both Colin and Susannah positions and… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

On 24th April 1932 a large group of ramblers trespassed on Kinder Scout to highlight the issues over access. I think something similar to the Kinder Scout mass trespass might be needed with groups of LGBTI people prominently and regularly attending the Eucharist in any parish which isn’t inclusive.

Jill Armstead
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Jill Armstead

As long as the group was not disrespectful and disruptive, what’s the problem? You need to narrow your target communities to parishes that reject LGBTI worshippers, eject them even, and I suspect there are few of those if any. Certainly, as a traditional Catholic Anglican, I have never come across one.

David Exham
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David Exham

I fully support the urgent desire many of many who have commented here that LGBTI Christians should be welcomed and affirmed throughout the Church of England, as of course they are in many parishes, as Jill Armstead points out. I wholeheartedly commend all those who are working tirelessly to end the unloving and harmful prejudice that still blights too many lives. Nevertheless, I am deeply disturbed by Kate’s suggestion of a “mass trespass”. To use the Eucharist in this—or indeed any—way seems entirely wrong. The Eucharist is one of God’s greatest gifts to us, and to use it for our… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

That’s one way of looking at it but I prefer to see it as those who are out and secure providing cover for more vulnerable LGBTI people to become fully involved, including in the Eucharist. In fact, I see it as a form of mission.

T Pott
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T Pott

It never occurred to me that the “we” in “we being many are all one bread” refers solely to those currently in the same building. Similarly with the Peace. Kate said “trespass” in the context of her analogy. What should a person who feels excluded from his or her own parish church do? What if those doing the excluding don’t even live in the parish themselves? Very often that is the case. Whose turf is it? Surely the excluders should be asked to go back to their own parish churches, not force an actual parishioner to go somewhere else. And… Read more »

Susannah Clark
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Susannah Clark

Kate, my view is that rather than try to confront a congregation that holds a sincere but different view in conscience and their own faith, the real challenge is how inclusive communities live in their church communities, and the extent they are prepared to go to live out their own conscientious beliefs. I am very much against trying to impose views against the conscience of other Christians. That’s what the conservative groups have been trying to do through the Anglican Covenant, through the Primates’ sanctions-threatening letter, through the status quo policy of the Church which demands ‘obedience’ from priests and… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Once again the term “welcome” is being misunderstood. The delegation definitely misuse the term when they claim to welcome “transgender” people (to use their inaccurate term). But on the other side, I fear welcome is being used interchangeably with affirmation when welcome is so much more. Gender transition isn’t pretty. It is generally said that it is an option of last resort. People tend to be in crisis before they embark on it. People in crisis then suffer rejection. Loss of family and friends. Loss of home. Loss of career. Hostility, including often doctors. Massive waiting lists to see specialists… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Very much truth in what you say, Kate. To me, whether someone is transgender, or autistic, or socially marginalised with addictions, or troubled in mind in socially awkward ways, or unusually creative, or different in race, ethnicity, outspokenness, or challenging, or radically loving… whatever the person, including all the people whose needs are far less visible… the real challenge of living in community is ‘alongsideness’. The challenge for a Christian community is not to become a clique of people who meet in a church and love each other’s company. As you say, life is not as twee as that. The… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest
Richard W. Symonds

Easier said than than done, Susannah. What if former Bishop Peter Ball and his brother Michael read about your ‘alongsidedness’ approach, and wanted to join your church?

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

Richard, they would be very welcome. They are my brothers in Christ. It would be an interesting journey. But I know my priest and my church: we would welcome and befriend them. That’s not the same as being a soft touch. But none of us – me, you, or fellow readers – should assume we can journey together in an easy way. You and I, Richard, have had considerable disagreements, and yet strangely, I feel love for you, and a kind of liking, and I have felt moved to pray for you. And I’ve felt your courtesy and forbearance towards… Read more »

Richard W. Symonds
Guest
Richard W. Symonds

Thank you for your prayers Susannah.

You say: “It would be an interesting journey” to fellowship alongside former Bishop Peter Ball and his brother Michael.

I think it would be a difficult journey – too difficult for a considerable number.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Everyone is welcome unconditionally. Over the past few years I have been taught that my personal scale of wrongness is just that, simply my personal scale which may be very different to God’s personal scale. To take an example, driving to the High Street in a diesel car seems normal to us but what if damaging our beautiful Earth is very high up on God’s list of undesirable behaviours? It might be, or it might be inconsequential. We don’t know. So these days I try to have the attitude that it’s not my place to try to rank sins, let… Read more »

Jenny King
Guest
Jenny King

Both sides are abusive?! Nonsense! No one I know in trans community advocates shoehorning into a transition box! Transition is a long reflective process. Adults make educated decisions without pressure to conform to an ideal. No one expects a magical outcome, perfect happiness. Etc. yes there are many mixed emotions and the guidance doesn’t address that, but. The transwomen and men I know are well capable of sorting it out. That it is a hard journey. More for some than others, yes, I agree more substantive welcome is needed. Surgery of any kind can lead to complications. People of weak… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Is the guidance wholly flawed? No. But that doesn’t stop it being abusive. Yes, affirmation is good, but what are we affirming? The way the guidance is constructed, the affirmation is a) only for those who fully change gender role b) and is based on imposing an expectation that gender transition is a success to be celebrated. But what of those who are gender variant but don’t want to fully transition. It offers them nothing but sets an expectation that they will only receive affirmation if they fully transition. There are plenty of people who don’t want to transition but… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest
Susannah Clark

I simply don’t agree with you Kate.

I believe the Bishops’ guidance is well-intentioned, and helps open the Church up further to welcome and inclusion.

It repudiates those who want to impose a dogmatic rejection of transition. It implicitly recognises that gender variance is real and that people who are gender diverse deserve love and affirmation.

It is true that there is a big range and spectrum of gender experiences and circumstances, and yes those can be further explored, but this Guidance is benevolent and well-intentioned, and a positive statement going in the right direction.

I don’t see it as abuse at all.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Whether abuse is the right word is certainly a valid debate, but that is the language Colin Coward uses and the whole point is that there is symmetry here. The guidance claims to affirm transgender people but actually only affirms a tiny subset of transsexuals. It is dishonest and further marginalises transvestites, the gender fluid and genderqueer folk. It might be a step forwards for people like you and I – although personally I find it regressive – but for 95% of transgender people it offers nothing while pretending to support them. So yes, I think that the guidance is… Read more »

Fr John Emlyn Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Emlyn Harris-White

jenny’s words have in them a clarion call to both provinces of the Anglican Communion, on either side of the Atlantic. ‘Our Bishops our being abused by Justin’ The root cause in my opinion of the state of both provinces, and the rest of the Anglican Communion. I live in a Province without interference from Justin, with a godly Primus, and a caring college of Bishops., for which I thank God. But none the less as an Anglican share Jenny’s view, and great concern for our Anglican family. Lambeth conference I pray will be a wake up call for Justin,… Read more »

Christina Beardsley
Guest
Christina Beardsley

As someone who contributed to the Guidance I’d like to remind everyone that ‘Welcome’ and ‘Affirmation’ were the words used in the Blackburn Motion which was passed by the General Synod. The Motion also requested the House of Bishops to consider a liturgy for trans people, but this was not recommended by the House’s Delegation Committee who proposed instead adaptation of the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith. The production of the Guidance was then passed to the Liturgical Commission and it was at that stage three trans clergy were asked to contribute advice. If both protestors/objectors and trans people find the… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Fair summary I think and maybe that it provides cover to clergy makes it worthwhile despite its manifest flaws