Maybe it’s time to turn the tables on the conservatives and agitate from within the English church for inclusion, just as the exclusivists did in the American church. So there.
Mad Priest put me on to this story, it’s all his fault.
Ruth Gledhill of The Times (THE Times, of London, you know) reports that UK “pro-gays” are going to take a survey of all LGBT clergy in London, Southwark, and everywhere in the Anglican church in England. It’s an old joke that there are many, many gay and lesbian priests, who serve with the tacit approval of their bishops (some of whom are also undoubtedly gay). In Greater London, it’s estimated that up to one in five Anglican priests is gay, whether closeted or uncloseted. Thus, the conservative hoo-hah over gay clergy and bishops is thus rendered a bit hypocritical when it’s coming from the Anglican church. See “mote in one’s eye, log in thine own” and so forth. Thus endeth the lesson.
Also, Gledhill notes that hundreds of blessings of gay unions have been done, and the survey would like to get accurate numbers. Then she has been tipped that inclusive churches in Britain may try to link up with liberal parishes in the US, following on the model used by the ultra-conservative “Network” churches, many of which have since decamped for the oversight of African bishops once they found one another via the Internets tubes. Now that the US church has “lost” the most politically and theologically disaffected of the dissident faction, it appears ready to move forward more purposefully, and Gledhill thinks that there may be some kind of “TEC outpost” of the US Episcopal Church in London planned. Meanwhile, two US dioceses have announced candidate slates for bishops, Minnesota and Los Angeles – with several partnered gay and lesbian priests in the running.
Gledhill’s bombshell, already under discussion at conservative sites, quotes (apparently in full) a draft response from a number of inclusive-church groups to Archbishop Rowan’s disappointing reflection that came out after General Convention ended. This is not the Chicago Consulation’s response, this is a bunch of organizations that are all UK-based.
We have no doubt that the Church of England is called to live out the Gospel values of love and justice in the whole of its life; these values are intrinsic to the calling of Jesus Christ to follow him and it is out of this context that we speak. While we acknowledge the intention of the Archbishop of Canterbury to seek a way forward for the Anglican Communion, we have grave concerns about the implications of his reflections in “Covenant, Communion and the Anglican Future.”
‘For example, we consider that references to same-sex unions as a “chosen life-style”, and assertions that those who have made such a commitment are analogous to “a heterosexual person living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond” to be inconsistent with the Archbishop’s previous statements on committed and faithful same sex relationships and are at odds with our reading of the message of the gospel.
‘Whilst we applaud his assertion that we are called to “become the Church God wants us to be, for the better proclamation of the liberating gospel of Jesus Christ” we find no indication of how that can be achieved for those who are not heterosexual.
‘We acknowledge, once again, that there are and always have been many loyal, committed and faithful bishops, priests and deacons – properly selected and ordained – and many lay people who are LGBT or who work alongside LGBT people with delight and thanksgiving.
‘We know ourselves to be part of the church of God in England and we work, together, to bring about the reign of God in this part of God’s creation. We pray earnestly that the Church of England will continue to select, train, ordain and deploy LGBT people and enable them to exercise their calling from God in the Church of England.
‘Together, we reaffirm our commitment to working for the full inclusion of all people at all levels of ministry. We will continue to work towards liturgical and sacramental recognition of the God-given love which enables many LGBT couples to thrive. We will seek to strengthen the bonds of affection which exist between those in all the Churches of the Anglican Communion who share our commitment to the full inclusion of all of God’s faithful. We will also continue to work closely with our brother and sister churches, especially those with whom we have mutual recognition of orders such as the Nordic churches. We will work to ensure that if the Church of England is to sign up to the Covenant, it has potential for rapid progress on this and other issues.
‘We find the notion of a “two track communion” flawed in the way that the Act of Synod is flawed, and we commit ourselves to continuing the effort to find ways forward through which those who disagree profoundly on this and on other issues can continue to celebrate their common membership of the Church of England and unity in Christ’
Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Anglicans
General Synod Human Sexuality Group
Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod
Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (Anglican Matters)
Modern Churchpeople’s Union
I’m pleased to find St John’s-Hyde Park in London is a member of both Inclusive Church
and Changing Attitude, as I thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday visit with them a year ago in August and think they’re really on the right track, as the service was VERY well attended (a rarity in Britain). I had previously blogged on the concept of a “two-track communion” but that referred specifically to women Anglican clergy in Britain, who face similar obstacles (and obstinacies) when faced with conservative opposition to female ordination. If this “TEC beachhead” becomes a reality in London (it may be wishful thinking), it would be interesting to see how they respond to the very real and troubling accusation of border-crossing. From the lists of member churches at Inclusive Church and Changing Attitude, it’s clear there are plenty of welcoming, affirming Anglican parishes all over Britain, not just in London.