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all of them

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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.

That is no small tribute I think to Bishop Steven Croft, who I have personally experienced as someone who is keen to listen and understand. He stands up for LGBTI+ people in the wider church, knowing that the simple promise of 'nothing about us without us' matters. And indeed, I see in the wording of the letter conversations and challenges and journeys and stories that I have witnessed and known of, and that's part of why I welcome it so strongly and am so grateful for it.

Giles Goddard …

clothe yourselves with love

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Today, the Bishop of Oxford together with his area bishops in Dorchester, Reading & Buckingham, sent out a letter to the 1,500 clergy and lay ministers in the Oxford Diocese.

The letter begins with a quotation from Colossians 3, words which the whole Diocese is being encouraged to live with in this season. It then considers six areas before its final conclusion, returning to Colossians:
The current national process on questions of sexuality in the Church of England; the wider debate; inclusion and respect (the longest section, which re-iterates the Lichfield principles); liturgy and prayers; an announcement of a new chaplaincy team in the diocese for LGBTI+ people and their families; and a commitment to ongoing listening to all within the church.

The journey toward full acceptance for LGBTI+ people in the church is long and complicated, but letters like these in a diocese like ours from bishops who are united in courage, compassion, faith and love, take our journey forward. So th…

a never failing stream

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I’ve just arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m not sure what I’ll do today, but I think I may go down to the  Centre for Civil and Human Rights.
Civil Rights theology has a lot to say for those of us engaged in LGBT+ theology. There comes a point when a minority community starts reading the Bible with different eyes. Instead of being told we are excluded, different, not worthy of the ordinary things that others get by token of ‘tradition’ or ‘privilege’,  we start to read every verse and ask - 
“Why not us too?”
If lepers are worthy of Jesus’ time and healing, why not us too? If a Samaritan woman gets living water, why not us too?  If you all get faith the size of a mustard seed and it moves mountains, why not us too?
You see, traditionally, we are told there are six or seven verses in the Bible that are about gay people; and they all say that what gay people do is bad. But that’s just a nonsense, because why aren’t all the other verses about gay people too? Why are just the things that bear …

bishops & cake

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For me, as I look back, just a few days on, at the two launch events for my new book last weekend, the most remarkable thing is - how much I can’t remember!

OK - so here are some headlines. Some facts. There were over seventy people at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford on Friday, and around half that number in Steeple Aston the day after. The first event was the big public launch, the second a chance for folk in my parishes to celebrate and enjoy the occasion.
At Christ Church, we had bishops. Three of them. At Steeple Aston we had cake. Enough to feed a small army. You can decide which event you would rather have attended from that. Both featured people buying buying books, and me signing them - as you’d expect - checking every now and then ‘So that’s to Theodora spelled the usual way?’ 
Clare Hayns, Chaplain at Christ Church, hosted on Friday. Clare had organised the whole event brilliantly - so much so that I hadn’t had to do anything really. Thanks to Clare, the Cathedral had done mu…

launched!

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Last Friday over seventy people gathered for evensong at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, and then enjoyed drinks and conversation as they queued to be the very first people to buy copies of The Possibility of Difference.

Revd Clare Hayns, Chaplain of Christ Church, welcomed everyone and Dave Gatward from Kevin Mayhew Ltd introduced the evening. We chatted about the book, about writing, about how I had come to do the work, the thinking, the soul-searching behind the words on the page. And questions followed - focussing on the Church's response, on how we manage (or fail) to work together, on how we help younger people, and (thanks to a great question from Rt Revd Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford) how we can pray together going forward.

Here are a selection of photos, bringing something of the flavour of a wonderful gathering. And of course, the book is available from Kevin Mayhew or your local store.












it's today!

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The Possibility of Difference is published by Kevin Mayhew today. Tonight there is a launch in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, with quite a gathering; I'll post more about that after the event!

But as I walked Harry, my Springer Spaniel, this morning, I thought about these words from toward the end of the book:

The Bible tells us there was one Victim and now by giving our lives to him, the rest of us get to be more than conquerors. The possibility of difference is not just about agreeing to disagree on another theological issue, but about ‘hope for a world that tears itself apart – a sign of what can happen with the love and mercy of God through Jesus Christ’.... It’s about the people I love who agree with every word in this book and the people I love who don’t, but we all belong to one another because we all belong to Jesus and his body, the Church. It’s about us taking seriously Bishop Curry’s words in Windsor on that sunny May afternoon: ‘Love is not selfish and self-centred. Lo…

flagging up issues of pride

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Some of our more traditionalist friends have been struggling to come to terms with Ely Cathedral's decision to fly a rainbow flag during the Ely Pride weekend. It's the kind of thing that (with an inevitable predictability) brings a reaction. On Fulcrum and on Psephizo, Andrew Goddard & Ian Paul both respond by questioning the wisdom of churches using flags and espousing any causes other than the Cross and the Gospel. It's not that it's the Rainbow Flag - all flags create 'us' and 'them' - churches shouldn't do this! Well, that's an interesting point; I (slightly cheekily) wonder if Andrew and Ian will be wearing those divisive and non-Gospel poppies to church on November 11th? And I am tempted to do a full analysis of their harrumphing, but really I think that at this point we all expect each others' posturing and it's not necessary. Otherwise we all get stuck in this cycle...

However, it is fair to call out fakery for what it is.
A…