Thinking Anglicans

Responses to the Oxford bishops’ letter

 

Updated Tuesday morning (scroll down)

Media reports:

Comment:

…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…

Update

For a roundup of comment from a conservative viewpoint, see Anglican Mainstream’s post: Oxford Diocese promotes inclusion.

 

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Andrew LightbownDavid RuncornPeter SpychalFr AndrewKate Recent comment authors
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Revd Dean Henley
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Revd Dean Henley

I feel really sad that so many of my sisters and brothers and those who are non-binary, cannot see that the bishops’ offering to us as the LGBTQI+ community is meagre fare indeed. For 30 years or more they have kicked this can down the road, and this is another example of a carefully judged repositioning of the can. Imagine the furore if they offered a chaplaincy service for those clergy who had remarried after divorce and were therefore in adulterous second or third marriages. As I said in my original response, these are no more than crumbs from the… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

Have you been following the US Midterms? Commentators believe that Trump has been saying what he needs to get his base all riled up and committed to voting, but the sense (ahead of results) is that has been at the expense of alienating independents and moderate Republicans. I think it’s a useful parallel to consider. Liberals don’t have enough votes on their own to get anything through the House of Bishops and the traditionalists don’t have enough votes on their own to carry anything in the Houses of Laity or Clergy. Both sides will need to build a coalition. So,… Read more »

Fr Andrew
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Fr Andrew

Kate, you almost make it sound as if we should be *grateful*. Excuse me if I’m not. Full equality is LGBT people’s by right, not something to be granted by the majority. Has Oxford said ‘These are the first steps we are taking with the aim of full equality soon’? No. So perhaps it’s just something to keep us quiet? I think words from Martin Luther King are apt: ” Love is unconditional. It is not conditional upon one’s staying in his place or watering down his demands in order to be considered respectable…. The white liberal must rid himself… Read more »

Peter Spychal
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Peter Spychal

The Anglican Mainstream links back up what you say Kate.

Comparisons of LGBT campaigners to Nazis. Strange discussions about a ‘Cultural Marxist’ conspiracy to destroy marriage through gays, condoms and pornography. The only real attempt at theology is a big long list of stuff that Genesis actually doesn’t say but which the writer wants to believe.

I could not get upset. I am ashamed to say that I just chuckled. Any bishops who take this stuff seriously are, to be polite, really rather niche and will be taken seriously by nobody.

Kate
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Kate

The traditionalist responses are interesting. I think we are in Mark 7:1-23 territory, though – nothing external can harm us and that includes homosexual sex. What can harm us is what we think and do – whether we are loving and generous in our thoughts and actions and not driven by greed, malice or lust etc. I think what depresses me most about the traditional position is that it is usually argued on the basis of “tradition”. The Anglican Mainstream response does that. At best they rely on the Old Testament or Epistles. Key Gospel passages like Mark 7 are… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Thanks Kate. I think your call to welcome and encourage is timely. While some responses here and elsewhere are deeply sceptical and unwilling/unable to trust this will change anything it is interesting that traditional commentators on Anglican Mainstream are in no doubt at all where this is heading.

Andrew Lightbown
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David is, I think, correct. The Oxford bishops,have indicated what they see as the direction of travel and, I am sure, will have more to say. I understand the skepticism but don’t think that the letter represents their last word.