Updated Tuesday morning (scroll down)
…The Oxford bishops are committed to building a Christ-like church and have identified three values as animators of this aspiration: compassion, contemplation and courage. By pledging to listen to the experiences of LGBTIQ+ Christians and allowing such experiences to help shape the future direction of the church, alongside the acknowledgment that ‘as a Church we have continually failed our sisters and brothers in Christ’ the bishops have shown real compassion. Listening, deep listening, is of course also the very heart beat of contemplative practice. In writing this letter, in the sure and certain knowledge that there will be some very real kick-back, and through their insistence, that silence does not serve the Church well, alongside a commitment to express their own views with integrity the Oxford bishops have been courageous, for courage is worked out in the most difficult, most contentious and most potentially divisive issues.
One of the most moving responses I have seen so far to the Oxford bishops’ letter on inclusion came from someone who said that she was surprised and delighted by the way in which the bishops made her feel part of the church by their words. Usually, this kind of official pronouncement makes gay people feel slightly ‘other’, a separate order of humanity within the church, but here the respondent was grateful to feel like she was genuinely listened to and part of the same church…
Marcus goes on to discuss at some length the article by Giles Goddard on Via Media to which we linked yesterday.
…The bishops also announce in the letter that they will be setting up a chaplaincy for LGBTI+ people and their families across the diocese. We very much look forward to seeing how this latest exciting development unfolds, and hope and trust that LGBTI+ people will continue to be integral to the development, delivery and dissemination of this important and innovative work.
…We would encourage other dioceses to consider following the Oxford lead, to meet with LGBTI representatives from within each diocese to listen to their concerns, and to say explicitly that LGBTI people are welcome in their diocese, and should be welcome in each and every parish.
The LGBTI community and their allies are looking for tangible proof that the words”radical new Christian inclusion” are being taken seriously by each diocese. It is in concrete proposals, such as the provision of LGBTI chaplaincies and the creation of LGBTI reference groups, that they will begin to be reassured that a truly inclusive welcome is sincerely being offered for all…
For a roundup of comment from a conservative viewpoint, see Anglican Mainstream’s post: Oxford Diocese promotes inclusion.