Posts

Oh Dear

Image
  Oh dear. The Living in Love and Faith Next Steps March update has landed. The meeting was on March 25th, the update posted on the CofE website on April 20th (the day after the BBC Panorama programme on the Church and Racism).  I critiqued the January update for not mentioning LGBTQ+ people; for stressing the LLF Advocates (when the role description is heavily biased toward these people being non-LGBTQ+), and for failing to understand that there are no safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people in LLF discussions. In February it seemed as though some of this had been heard, albeit a bit dully. There was reference to LGBTI+ people. There was some attempt to talk about brave space rather than safe space. And if all of it felt clumsy, because the bishops making up the Next Steps Group simply don't know what they don't know, I pleaded with them to include us in. In March there's very little sign of any inclusion going on. Rather, the opposite.  We are not mentioned again. We are de-person

Strange Gifts

Image
Gafcon are bearing strange gifts. In January, the ACNA bishops banned certain words so that it became heretical in their jurisdiction to describe someone even as being an SSA Christian (never mind a gay Christian). They soon found however that internal dissent wouldn’t be silenced. Even in their tightly run ship.  And this dissent means that ACNA, which body of churches split off from the Episcopal Church in the US because of that body’s affirming attitude to LGBTQ+ people, is now itself too liberal for some Gafcon provinces. There is a struggle over how homophobic a Gafcon church should be.  Even the conservative-leaning Andrew Goddard has had enough of this. He is critical of the ACNA bishops, but writes on the Fulcrum site of the Nigerian response to ACNA: ‘ The word ‘homophobic’ is often misused to label traditional understandings and I normally therefore avoid it but it is, sadly, the only possible word that can be used in the face of such unacceptable language. ’ He goes on t

Qualified thanks to the LLF Next Steps Group

Image
Last time I raised three questions of the LLF Next Steps Group. I asked about -   the nature of the LLF advocates; the impossibility of safe spaces in church discussions around sexuality; the absence of any mention of LGBTQ+ people in their documents, and indeed from their plans - except possibly from an advisory group that would be used at some stage (and which would have people chosen for age, class, churchmanship, gender, race & sexuality in it to give a real good mix). Well, it seems the February meeting of the Next Steps Group has tried to answer two of my questions: Thank you! Here’s the full text of the (brief) write-up of that meeting in mid-February on the LLF site (bold type where they go for my questions): The second meeting for 2021 of the LLF Next Steps Group was held on 10 February remotely via Zoom. In line with its decision to do the LLF Course together, the group spent the first part of the meeting engaging with Session 1, Learning Together. Following the decisio

LLF Stumbling Steps Group Update

Image
If you've read my blog you know I think we should engage with Living in Love and Faith - LLF. Well, if we are fit and healthy and in a place where it feels OK to do so. I like the book, I commend it to everyone, and I think it's the best resource the Church of England has yet produced in its long history of thinking about LGBTQ+ people. However... This is not going to be easy!  The official LLF Next Steps Group, all bishops, has just put a note about its first meeting of 2021 online , and there are - how shall I say this - questions. Let's tackle just three. Question 1. Each diocese is being asked to provide LLF Advocates to take the process forward. The role description for the LLF advocate is long (and actually not in the update) but worth a look: here is the text of the copy I have seen, which I presume is what has been sent out generally (it came all fully LLF-ed up, with logo and everything). The highlights are mine, and I'll come back to them. Aim The LLF Advocat

Living in Love and Faith: One - Suddenly Equal?

Image
With the publication of Living in Love and Faith , the House of Bishops’ project on human identity, sexuality and marriage, I am going to offer three short reflections.  As a gay man and an evangelical, I was invited to be part of this project around half way through its life. This first reflection will be on the book, the main resource, and it will be very positive. My second will be on the process, or rather - on my experiences of the process. This is inevitably a personal view. It’s not going to be so positive. The final reflection will be about my hopes for what this whole project might offer LGBTQ people both within and beyond the fellowship of the Church of England. I’ll let you wait to see how that pans out! The main text of the book is over 420 pages long. There is no way that I can review all of that or even begin to say that I agree with everything that is in it.  I don’t agree with all sorts of things in it. But I've  already  told you I'm going to be very positive

Living in Love and Faith: Two - Predictably Discriminatory

Image
This is the second part of a three-part blog as the Church of England's Living in Love and Faith report is published. If you haven't read part one - Suddenly Equal? - please click here before continuing! Dr Christina Beardsley’s article in the Church Times in February 2019 said pretty much everything that needs to be said. Take the time; read it. It’s grim reading, but pretty definitive.  Her final words are: When they launched LLF, our Archbishops assured us that no one was an issue or a problem. I’d like to believe it. Were that true, though, my experience of LLF would have been very different. I am genuinely delighted with chapter 10 of the Living in Love and Faith book, and its unambiguous theology of equality and diversity. But I lived through nearly two years as a member of the project, and in most of that time I too experienced more out-and-out homophobia than I have experienced anywhere for a very long time. Tina is right.  Talking about details feels a little bit lik