Saturday, 26 June 2010

Changing Attitudes?

Yes - I know it's been quiet here in the slumbering flatlands, but contrarywise, I've been busy. There was the Clergy Conference, which I attended two days out of three - not bad for me: getting next month's Benefice magazine back from the printers and screaming as I realised I had dated it August 2010 instead of July 2010, and spending an hour printing out labels, cutting them up and sticking them to the covers: then there was the next batch of marmalade to make for the monthly Coffee Morning: sermons: co-ordinating arrangements for a couple of large funerals - not that I officiated (the families didn't want me!) but the grave spaces had to be sorted: and all the general plethora of administration when there are 11 parishes to ... er ... what exactly? Govern? Oversee? Pastor? Will have to think about that one.

And over and above all this nitty gritty of parochial life rumbles the wider turmoil of "mitregate", the joint attempt by our Archbishops to influence the General Synod's debate over female episcopate, and the continuing exclusion of the LGBT faithful from the life of our church.

But people are beginning to stick their heads above the parapet and shout "This will not do!"

I am a member of "Changing Attitude", the group that lobbies to literally "do what it says on the tin" and change the current prejudice against LGBT Christians. The Director of Changing Attitude UK is the Rev. Colin Coward. On June 18th he posted the following on the Changing Attitude blog.

My partner and I are planning to contract our Civil Partnership in October (dependent on approval from the Home Office). Our focus will not be the legal ceremony in the registry office but a service of holy communion in church using material from Jim Cotter’s "The Service of my Love". We met our Rector this week to talk about planning the service. He is totally positive about our desire to commit ourselves to each other in church in the presence of God and our friends.

Similar services have been taking place in St Luke’s Charlton in South London for over 15 years with the full approval of the PCC. Other services have taken place up and down the country in village halls, marquees, secular venues – and in churches. Guests at Christian ceremonies in secular venues fail to understand why they can’t be held in church. Because church rules forbid it is not a satisfactory answer for the couple’s family and friends.

A huge gulf is opening in this country between the attitude of the general population to gay partnerships and the official position of the Church of England. The church is driven by a conservative minority demanding that it conforms to Issues in Human Sexuality, Lambeth 1.10, the House of Bishops Statement and the Windsor Report (conformity being selective).

The gulf is not simply an inability to accept C of E teaching about the place of LGBT people in the church but about people’s spiritual experience and their vision of God.

The post has a lot more to it, and the rest can be read here.

In our small rural churches this really hasn't been an active issue. We haven't had partnered same-sex couples coming and asking for services of blessing or whatever. But what happens if we do? When we do? We cannot stay isolated in our sleepy parochialism for ever. And maybe the time is coming when voices need to be raised, one way or the other, and to see if we, in our own quiet way, can live with the differences that the Anglican Communion as a whole seems unable to do.


  1. Perhaps the word you want is "enable".

  2. Yes, possibly. I see myself more in a midwife role rather than a father-figure. Mind you, the tights are not that comfortable ...

  3. I wonder how many same sex couples would actively ask their vicar to bless them, particularly in a church, because of the huge amount of trouble it could get him/her into. It's not really something you can ask of anyone.

    We were fortunate to have had an unidentified (because we still would not want to get them into trouble) priest actively offer us a blessing and we chose a meaningful but non-church setting for it.

    Of course it would be lovely if it could have been different, but we felt extremely blessed to know such a courageous priest in the first place and would not have wanted to make their lives much more difficult in a very anti-gay diocese.