Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Unity in Diversity

I took details of the Inclusive Church's campaign "Gift of Communion" to our Joint Benefice Council meeting this evening and asked if the parishes would like to support it. This is a document that states that all who agree with it are of the opinion that the Anglican expression of faith is best found in diversity rather than a single expression of belief and practice, with the idea that the document will be presented to the Bishops at the Lambeth Conference later this year, showing that many churches feel that the Communion is best expressed in loving acceptance of and working with those with whom we disagree. It is a statement that schism is not the way forward for the Communion, and nor is it being true to our historical nature.

I should have given more background, for the question was immediately asked, "What is this group, Inclusive Church?" A swift look at the group's web pages clearly states that it was set up following the Jeffrey John debacle, and that part of its aim is the full inclusion of all people in the life and ministry of the Anglican church irrespective of their sexual orientation. This is set out very clearly in their Declaration of Belief:

We affirm that the Church's mission, in obedience to Holy Scripture, is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every generation.

We acknowledge that this is Good News for people regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation.

We believe that, in order to strengthen the Gospel's proclamation of justice to the world, and for the greater glory of God, the Church's own common life must be justly ordered.

To that end, we call on our Church to live out the promise of the Gospel; to celebrate the diverse gifts of all members of the body of Christ; and in the ordering of our common life to open the ministries of deacon, priest and bishop to those so called to serve by God, regardless of their sex, race or sexual orientation

The comment was made, and quite rightly so, that any agreement to this campaign should not be seen as assent to the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the ministry. I agreed that each PCC should discuss the issue rather than the Benefice Council making the decision for them.

The background to Inclusive Church's foundation is clearly going to antagonise some people, and make them very unwilling to agree to the Communion document. It will be seen as trying to get agreement to the homosexual lobby "via the back door". However, I don't read this campaign in those terms. The "Gift of Communion" statement is very clear in that it relates solely to unity in diversity as being the best way forward, without being biased one way or the other in the debate. Unfortunately, I don't think it will be seen that way.

I believe that the truth is the truth whoever speaks it. If I believe that the Anglican Communion is a body comprised of difference, that whoever says it, or whatever organisation speaks it, it remains the case.

I wonder if I'm being naive?


  1. Yup, I would say so.

    Good luck with then.

  2. I had actually believed that the people here would look at the issues on their own merit, but if we are still at the stage where the truth will not be supported because of the group that is saying it, then nothing I have said or preached over the last 7 years about openness and welcome and equality before God has had any effect.

    But I still have hope.

  3. Some people find it hard to apply what they hear from the pulpit to their own prejuduces. You wonder where those peop[lehave been while you have been talking.