Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Should LGBT Anglicans be more suspicious of the Covenant?

Erika Baker in a comment on the last blog and Adrian Worsfold and Church Ferret (naughty little creature) on Facebook, have raised questions about the blog which they think was too tolerant in stance and tone, I suspect.

I decided that +Rowan’s Presidential address should be take absolutely at face value. There are other leaders in the Communion whose words I would not take at face value.

I also think you have to look at what has happened in the 13 years since the Kuala Lumpur statement was published (which initiated the conservative campaign against LGBT people) and make a balanced assessment. They have repeatedly issued threats and challenges, to evict other Provinces, that the Communion is already split, the net torn, they have absented themselves from Lambeth and Primates meetings and refused to share Communion, and where has it got them?

Bishop Graham Kings made a case on the Radio4 Sunday programme for the GAFCON group being marginal to other conservative evangelicals in the Communion who have not rejected the Covenant. I think Bishop Graham is being fanciful. The Primates he named have announced that they are not attending the Primates meeting, so they are absenting themselves and abusing one of the Instruments of Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury. They will not be present to contribute to any decision making process. Canada and TEC will.

The Covenant will not come into force for at least 3 years, 3 years in which the conservatives will almost certainly absent themselves from the next ACC meeting and the following Primates’ meeting. Do you imagine that they will suddenly march back in once other Provinces have signed the Covenant and demand to be allowed to sign and take over the Communion? I know they might, their tactics are that crazy, but I think it’s highly unlikely, and who’d want to be a part of such a Communion?

Bishop Graham also pointed out that the GAFCON Primates can’t make a unilateral decision about not signing the Covenant and that the decision will have to be put to each Province. These are Primates who are making unilateral, authoritarian decisions without any democracy or reference to their Province or House of Bishops and I think it highly likely that the decision they announced last week will stand.

These Primates do not represent the opinions of their bishops. I have now had many reports about the unhappiness of individual bishops in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya who disagree with their Primate. Other tensions are building in these Provinces, and Primates eventually reach retirement dates. This generation with its extreme version of Anglicanism will not live forever.

Erika commented that Rowan clearly said that actions in one place have consequences for the Communion, whether we like it or not. Yes, but not necessarily only in one direction. The Global South/GAFCON/FCA axis has been allowed huge latitude and their actions tolerated in a way which for me and many others feels intolerable. But after 10 years of posturing and threats, they haven’t got what they demanded.

Removing TEC from the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue certainly isn’t what the conservatives had in mind when they demanded punishment. Better they hadn’t been excluded at all, but it isn’t exactly onerous, is it?

The Covenant may need nothing more than a group of only 15 people stating loudly that they feel offended before the offender has relational consequences imposed on them by the offended and Father Jake may be right in identifying just what those relational consequences are, and it might come to pass that punitive action is taken against a Province and they are removed from the ACC Schedule of Membership.

I’m not pointing out to Rowan that we LGBT people really have been playing ball all this time. I’m living the faith in prayer and love and I’m not walking away and I’m not going to stop reminding the Communion of the presence of LGBT people in every Province and the scandal of homophobia and prejudice and support for punitive legislation.

I am not becoming co-dependent and I am not colluding with my own abuse. The point at which Changing Attitude did either of those things would be seen very clearly, I think, and rightly challenged by all who care about the full inclusion of the tens of thousands of LGBT people in the Communion.

I think a lot has changed in the last 10 years, and the Church of England has become more isolated in our society and is continuing to isolate itself. There is a lack of courage and integrity in individual members of the House of Bishops and in the corporate institutions of the Church at times, and there are also shining examples of truth-telling, courage and integrity, and I would name Jeffrey John, Christina Rees, Colin Slee and Nick Holtham among others.

The Church of England might collude in applying the Covenant unwisely, punitively and against LGBT people 5 or 10 years down the road if it continues to allow what I consider to be unchristian forces to determine the culture of our Church.

This is all ‘my opinion’ and others will vehemently disagree with me. To some, it does indeed look as if nothing that happened in the Anglican Communion in the last 10 years has been wise, measured and politically middle of the road. People, good people have left and others are considering leaving, in despair at the unbelievable dishonesty practiced by some bishops. I think it’s a scandal but it doesn’t get reported because those of us who know these things don’t want to make life difficult for those in the circles around us. We all, CA, IC, the Coalition, WATCH, make calculated political decisions.

The Global South conservatives think God is on their side and not on the side of LGBT people. That is their fatal mistake. God is on everyone’s side, and God knows that the theologies we all construct are sometimes fatally flawed.

I may not have Permission to Officiate at the moment (and that’s another, confidential story) but I know I am loved, blessed, welcomed, enriched by God, journeying into the Kingdom of God, whatever foul things the conservatives say about me as a gay man, because I have a deep, prayerful relationship with God, a relationship to which they seem blinded – and there’s many a quote I could make from Scripture to support my claim. But I’ll leave it there.

Colin Coward

To enable us to continue to campaign for the full inclusion of LGBT people in every Province of the Anglican Communion, please become a supporter of Changing Attitude or donate to our work.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Anglican Covenant – dangerous progress in Synod? Or GAFCON statement – dangerous threat withdraws?

Archbishop Rowan began his presidential address to Synod in Church House last week by referring to a sermon preached by John Wesley on 'The Catholic Spirit' which opened with a text from II Kings 10.15: 'He greeted him and said, "Is your heart true to mine, as my heart is to yours?" Jehonadab replied, "Yes." "If so," Jehu said, "Give me your hand."'

Rowan urged Synod to surprise those who are looking on by demonstrating their loyalty to each other: 'Is your heart true to mine?' Loyalty grows and flourishes when we spend time together exploring God who has brought us together - if our hearts are true to each other, different things become possible, Rowan said.

Being true to each other, in our hearts, is to me obvious and fundamental to our Christian life and witness. Heart truth is important to the life of General Synod, the Church of England, the Anglican Communion, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Anglicans. Is the Anglican Covenant going to lead us into more heart truth?

GAFCON/FCA statement
As Rowan was delivering his address a statement was released by a group of Anglican leaders under the GAFCON/FCA banner, a statement which had been written at least two weeks earlier. The statement is almost, but not quite, a declaration of independence from Canterbury.

Those issuing the statement declare that they will no longer maintain an illusion of normalcy and will join other Primates from the Global South in absenting themselves from the next Primates’ meeting to be held in Ireland.

They further declare that the current text of the Anglican Covenant is fatally flawed and so support for it is no longer appropriate.

They plan to expand their ministry through other Anglican Provinces taking the ‘theological clarity’ of the Jerusalem Declaration as a solid foundation on which to engage with other Anglicans - those who affirm Biblical theological foundations of what Anglicans have always believed and practiced. They invite people in England ‘to re-affirm what they have always believed in Anglicanism by adopting the Jerusalem Declaration as a statement of their own faith and join with us in partnership in working to win the world to Christ’.

The statement rejects the Anglican Covenant, the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates’ meeting, the Anglican Communion as at present constituted and swathes of Anglican history, experience and tradition. I might describe it as both audacious and abusive – audacious in its rejection of truth and abusive to issue it deliberately at the same moment as the Archbishop of Canterbury is asking in an adult way for Christian hearts to be true to one another and loyal to God.

The Anglican Covenant
In his address, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“it is an illusion to think that without some changes the Communion will carry on as usual, and a greater illusion to think that the Church of England can somehow derail the entire process. The unpalatable fact is that certain decisions in any province affect all. We may think they shouldn't, but they simply do. If we ignore this, we ignore what is already a real danger, the piece-by-piece dissolution of the Communion and the emergence of new structures in which relation to the Church of England and the See of Canterbury are likely not to figure significantly.”

The GAFCON/FCA leaders had already decided to derail the process and begun the dissolution of the Communion by setting out to create new structures which will exclude the Church of England and the See of Canterbury. Rowan, your words to Synod were taken to heart by those present, Synod members and those like me in the public gallery. Of course it is right to expect us to relate in ways that are mature, loyal, exploring God together, hearts true to each other. What then of the GAFCON leaders – are you going to ask them to behave in an equally mature way? That won’t be easy since they are already going to absent themselves from your presence.
The Archbishop continued to address the Covenant and the whole paragraph is worth quoting in full:

“The Covenant offers the possibility of a voluntary promise to consult. And it also recognises that even after consultation there may still be disagreement, that such disagreement may result in rupture of some aspects of communion, and that this needs to be managed in a careful and orderly way. Now the risk and reality of such rupture is already there, make no mistake. The question is whether we are able to make an intelligent decision about how we deal with it. To say yes to the Covenant is not to tie our hands. But it is to recognise that we have the option of tying our hands if we judge, after consultation, that the divisive effects of some steps are too costly. The question is how far we feel able to go in making our decisions in such a way as to keep the trust of our fellow-Anglicans in other contexts. If we decide that this is not the kind of relationship we want with other Anglicans, well and good. But it has consequences. Whatever happens, with or without the Covenant, the Communion will not simply stay the same. Historic allegiances cannot be taken for granted. They will survive and develop only if we can build up durable and adult bonds of fellowship.”

Managing it in a careful and orderly way has already been made impossible by the arrogant and aggressive actions of the GAFCON leaders, supported by a minority of members of General Synod. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to deal with the challenges of covenant and communion in an intelligent, relational, heart to heart way when people are acting so abusively. Changing Attitude is committed to adult behaviour, but the temptation to infantile responses is strong when Communion leaders act in infantile ways themselves.

The Synod motion moved by the Bishop of Bristol, Michael Hill, asked ‘That the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant be considered.’ It was passed by a large majority and will now be sent to the dioceses for discussion. The Church of England did not, last week, adopt the Anglican Covenant, as some have asserted. England is continuing to discuss the Covenant and explore our differences of opinion.
In Rowan’s words, the Covenant offers the possibility of a voluntary promise to consult ... and disagreements need to be managed in a careful and orderly way.

“It does not invent a new orthodoxy or a new system of doctrinal policing or a centralised authority, quite explicitly declaring that it does not seek to override any province's canonical autonomy. After such a number of discussions and revisions, it is dispiriting to see the Covenant still being represented as a tool of exclusion and tyranny.”

Those of us who are anxious about the effects of the Covenant on progress towards the full inclusion in the Body of Christ of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are yet to be convinced that it is not possible to use it in a tyrannical and exclusionary way. If the GAFCON Primates (with others) have already decided to leave the Anglican Communion then there is not only less anxiety about the Covenant being used in a punitive way, there is no longer any real need for a Covenant at all.

Same-sex unions
Earlier in his address, the Archbishop had talked about the Communion’s approach to the ‘still bitterly divisive issue’ of same-sex unions.

He said:

“The need for some thoughtful engagement that will help us understand how people who read the same Bible and share the same baptism can come to strongly diverse conclusions is getting more urgent, because I sense that in the last few years the debate on sexuality has not really moved much.”

“And if we are not to be purely tribal about this, we need the chance for some sort of discussion that is not dominated by the need to make an instant decision or to react to developments and pressures elsewhere.”

Leaders and supporters of Changing Attitude are among those who have engaged in patient and thoughtful theological discussion in many different contexts and with a wide variety of opinions. We are committed to continuing conversation and exploration but the patience of many LGBT Anglicans is being tested to the extreme. We are living with an understanding of our own integrity in Christ which means that we deliberately ignore the guidelines adopted by the Church – Issues in Human Sexuality, Lambeth 1.10 and the House of Bishops’ pastoral statement on Civil Partnerships. The conversation and exploration can continue within the Church but we have already moved beyond.

Rowan asked for the help of Synod in working with him to create an ambience where better understanding may happen, taking the debate forward without the pressure of feeling we have some single and all-important decision to make. He pointed to the success of the 'Continuing Indaba' project in creating many such spaces for face-to- face discussion across cultures, considering a wide range of actually and potentially divisive matters. It has, he said, been pursued with heroic energy and imagination by many people of profoundly diverse convictions in the Communion and needs prayer and support.

We LGBT people in the UK and North America have personal security and legal protections which enable us to pursue our goals in the Communion with confidence, engaging openly with the Church. In other, socially conservative parts of the Communion, homophobia and prejudice in Church and society mean that open conversation is impossible and LGBT people remain invisible.

I am increasingly concerned about their safety and security and their inability to live spiritually, with integrity, in relationship with other Christians, when Anglican leadership in Nigerian, Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere equivocates about or actively supports punitive legislation. They need an active campaign for freedom and justice now, not at a time to suit the patient theological discussions within the Communion.

Susan Russell on her blog An Inch at a Time displays a Get out of the covenant free card and has her own take on what happened last week. Now that the folks the Anglican covenant was designed to keep at the table have turned their noses up at it, she says, it seems that sacrificing the vocations and relationships of the LGBT baptized on the altar of Anglican Unity becomes redundant at best and throwing out historic Anglican comprehensivness in response to hysteric Anglican politics becomes ridiculous at least.

The Episcopal Church instead of studying the Anglican Covenant that's already failed to hold the Communion together needs instead to be studying how to create something that will bring us together. “Like maybe focusing on the values that unite us rather than the issues that divide us. Like building a church for the 21st century that worries about who will COME if we proclaim the Good News of God available to all rather than who might LEAVE if we include everybody.”

Will sending the Anglican Covenant to be discussed in the dioceses have a negative effect regarding progress for LGBT people or does the statement from the GAFCON leaders have a beneficial effect which far outweighs any potential negative from the Covenant?

Colin Coward

To enable us to maintain a relational, principled, heart-true campaign for LGBT people in the Anglican Communion, please become a supporter of Changing Attitude or donate to our work.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Bishop Gene Robinson to retire in 2013

Bishop Gene Robinson has announced his plan to retire as Bishop of New Hampshire in January 2013 when he will be 65 to give the diocese enough time to elect a new bishop. He will be retiring when he is 7 years below the mandatory retirement age for Episcopal bishops of 72. He made the announcement at the end of his diocesan annual convention and gave, as reasons for his early departure, the toll taken on him and on the diocese having been at the centre of international controversy.

He said: "Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop, have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark, who has faithfully stood with me every minute of the last seven years, and in some ways, you. While I believe that these attitudes, mostly outside the diocese, have not distracted me from my service to you, I would be less than honest if I didn't say that they have certainly added a burden and certain anxiety to my episcopate."

I first met Bishop Gene at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church held in Minneapolis in 2003. The pressure on him was already intense and the Convention was marked by false rumours about him, designed to influence approval of his election. He retreated to a protected space leaving others to navigate the media and the conservative storm opposing his election.

In 2005 he came to England for the first time as bishop to address Changing Attitude’s 10th Anniversary Service at St Martin-in-the-Fields. He received a prolonged standing ovation and, as he said in his announcement yesterday, made "the case for God and for God's church – either to those who have never known God's unimaginable love, or to those who have been ill-treated, in the name of a judgmental God, and who have left the church."

Riazat Butt of the Guardian phoned me for a comment at 10 this morning, catching me as I was about to leave for the 10.30 Communion at St John’s Devizes. When I first read the news, I felt sad that he will be retiring. He has made visible for tens of thousands of LGBT Anglicans the reality that we are present in every Province of the Communion, in every congregation, many of us ordained, some bishops and primates. He won’t retire into invisibility and by 2013 further lesbian or gay bishops bishops may have been elected to join Mary Glasspool.

Bishop Gene’s election in 2003 did indeed transform the landscape, and he has had to lie with the responsibility for, and consequences of, that transformation. At last we had somebody as a bishop who was fully visible and embodied the quality of life so many of us long for, a committed, faithful and loving relationship as a Christian.

He has borne the cost as an iconic figure on behalf of LGBT Anglicans. But his visible presence is the tip of an iceberg. There are many thousands, if not tens of thousands, of LGBT Anglicans who experience stress, anxiety, pressure, depression and at the extreme, suicidal feelings. I know that this is true from the Changing Attitude England network and from friends and colleagues in the Church of England.

Increasingly, I know it to be true in Africa and across the Anglican Communion. A young gay Kenyan Anglican told me yesterday that he “is living in great stigmatization due to my sexual orientation. I don’t want anyone to know. Please help me and keep my secrets close. Thank you for that understanding. I have disclosed to you so much more than I have ever done to anyone else.”

It is people like this lonely, desperate, isolated gay Kenyan, who longs for the kind of loving relationship enjoyed by Gene and Mark, that Gene has been an icon for. He has, thanks goodness, had Mark beside him, a diocese which took him to his heart, and a personal resourcefulness and spirituality. Most Africans have none of these resources beyond a deep commitment to their faith and to Jesus the Christ.

One conservative response to Bishop Gene’s announcement has been to accuse him of playing the victim card. After 7 years of abuse and vilification by primates, bishops and conservative pressure groups in the Anglican Communion, I might have hoped that some Christian love and wisdom might have begun to surface by now, but no, the evil and lies and misrepresentation of truth continues. Riazat reports that s spokesman for the Global Anglican Future Conference, Gafcon, said the "agonising dispute" over homosexuality was not about the New Hampshire bishop "personally". Now I wonder who might have made such a disingenuous statement?

Colin Coward

To help us continue and develop our commitment to the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Church of England and of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion, please become a supporter of Changing Attitude England or make a donation.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Changing Attitude trustees develop our vision and strategy for the coming year

The trustees and Director of Changing Attitude met at the Peace Centre in Tadcaster from Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime for a residential meeting. Meeting for 48 hours provides time for us to talk at length (and some of us are good at that!) reflect at leisure and discuss both the practical needs of Changing Attitude and our strategy and vision. Our vision is developing and unfolding all the time and our strategic initiatives need to evolve and change in response to the developing vision.

On Friday evening for 2 hours and for the first hour on Saturday morning, I introduced a reflection (outlined in a previous blog) on the way in which we envisage or conceptualise ourselves in relationship to God and to the creation in which we dwell. I have become aware that we use religious language in ways traditional and radical which risk misunderstandings, and I wanted to check whether there was a common mind among the trustees of our theology, spirituality, ethics and morality. We discovered that there is, having cleared up misunderstandings and misconceptions along the way.

In the past decade, global communications have evolved at an exponentially dramatic rate. Decoding DNA, the exploration of deep space, the origins of the universe in the Big Bang, have expanded our awareness of the finite and the infinite in similarly dramatic ways. The evolutionary pace of the church, in response to the changed status of LGBT people in British society, for example, proceeds at a snail’s pace. The resistance in the church to granting any kind of equality or dignity to LGBT people is viewed with astonishment by those who are unaware that minority forces in the Church of England combine with a commitment to maintain unity in the Anglican Communion to prevent progress to full inclusion. The church looks like a dinosaur compared with the transformation of spiritual and scientific imagination and vision in the global community. We in Changing Attitude have no doubt that many are alienated by the Church’s lack of courage and vision. It takes extraordinary and often perverse determination to stay in the church, working for the full inclusion of LGBT people, when it is so dishonest in its practice and so

The extensive agenda covered several major topics, and I will write briefly about the most significant.

Marriage and Civil Partnerships
The agenda for marriage and civil partnerships for LGBT people has developed dramatically in the last 6 months with OutRage! advocating equality for all. The trustees agreed that we should be campaigning for equality in the Church of England, recognizing that our supporters have a variety of views, and we are campaigning for the freedom to make a choice, including the blessing of relationships and marriage in church.

Day Conference
The overnight conference planned for October didn’t take place because too few people were able to come, apart from Birmingham residents who wanted a non-residential event. Instead of a residential conference for Changing Attitude group leaders and Diocesan contacts we are planning two one-day conferences, one in Nottingham in May and the second in London in the autumn. The vision is to create days set in the context of a Eucharist which will help create a flourishing environment for LGBT Christians in particular and for all who yearn to participate in worship in which our dreams and longings for God, for intimacy, truth, tenderness and justice can find expression. It’s an ambitious aim, but we have an ambitious vision for the days and planning will begin immediately, finding churches which will create the environment in which we can pray, praise and worship with passion and glory.

LGBT Anglican Coalition
The Coalition meets this coming Saturday in Waterloo. Jeremy Timm is chairing the meeting on behalf of Changing Attitude – the group responsible for preparing the agenda this time. The chair rotates every 6 months. Some of the issues discussed at our residential will be brought to the Coalition as the more appropriate context for them to be dealt with. The issues include a strategy for General Synod and encouraging LGBT people with vocations, which we would like to develop in consultation with the Clergy Consultation.

Women in the Episcopate
The Director and every trustee is committed 100% to the successful passage of legislation which will open the episcopate to women.

Our campaign to discover whether the Church has a policy for Readers which equates them with the ordained ministry is progressing slowly. Progress has been made, and Jeremy Timm agreed to draft an article for submission to the Church Times.

Web site
The web site is being redesigned at the moment and should be online in November. We want to include brief videos on the site in the mode of the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign in the USA, with people describing their faith as someone who is LGB or T or supportive of our full inclusion. This is a project we hope to develop very quickly – if we can master the technology!

Sunday Eucharist
After a final session on Sunday morning, we concluded our time together with a Eucharist in the room we had set aside for prayer and meditation. Jeremy Pemberton had prepared a service in which we were primarily silent together. It brought the energy of our discussions into our worship, calmed and focused us as we broke bread and shared wine, absorbing the stillness and beauty of our creator and celebrating our faith in God’s infinite presence and love.

Our vision and our goals are ambitious. We are striving in faith for the Kingdom of God, in which all are welcome in a Church where all can flourish.

Colin Coward

To help us develop our vision and turn our strategy into reality, please become a supporter of Changing Attitude England or make a donation.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Two cheers for Bishop Stephen Platten

Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield, in an article in the Church Times last Friday has come out in support of a renewed listening, real listening, to the voices of LGBT people in LGCM and Changing Attitude. He says the Church of God and not just the Church of England should take a lead in encouraging real listening which allows for the possibility of a change of heart if not, he says, our own moral outlook.

The article was received enthusiastically by the trustees of Changing Attitude who met over the weekend in Tadcaster and they wanted me to blog about it, post an article on the web site and write to Bishop Stephen and the Church Times - and I will do all those things, starting here.

Having re-read the article, I want to be more critical, especially since bishop Stephen wants the Church universal to take a lead in ‘real’ listening. My first message back to Bishop Stephen is that it’s a bit rich to ask the Church to take a lead in ‘real’ listening. The Church is so far behind secular society which having undertaken a process of 'real listening' has mostly dealt with the ethical, moral, emotional and legal dimensions of homophobia and has already transformed the landscape for LGBT people. It is primarily in the church, and in particular pockets of society, in football, in schools that homophobia continues.

Bishop Stephen says the Church is not unlike our culture in which there are a variety of views with both calls for equality and rampant homophobia. I do not meet rampant homophobia in society, but in the church I meet an all-persuasive prejudice which has a rampantly homophobic effect. Try getting appointed to a new post in the church if you are in a civil partnership or recommending to a lesbian, gay or transgender seeker a church in which you can confidently guarantee they are going to receive a prejudice–free welcome. Changing Attitude has just 30 churches out of 10,000 listed in our Welcoming and Open scheme.

Perhaps the Church serves a purpose as a place where all this can be discussed, says Bishop Stephen, though he admits it would need to bring people together to claim to be that place. ‘All this’ is discussed freely in pubs and bars and cafes, homes and offices across the country. It’s in the Church that people have the greatest difficulty discussing human sexuality freely and openly. In my own church, which in a comment on a previous post a member denies is homophobic, I am told that it’s better for me not to constantly talk about being gay but keep it quiet. It isn’t something I talk about or preach about, but simply being there with my partner is too much for some of the congregtion – that’s homophobia, Frances.

Bishop Stephen thinks stereotypes would break down if Christians simply sat down with gay people, whether active, single, in committed relationships or not. I’m not so sure. For starters, outside the Church it’s immaterial whether gay people are active, single or in a committed relationship. The Church agenda is not society’s agenda. The moral and ethical attitude of the Church to gay relationships is not relevant and won’t be until the Church overcomes it’s institutionalized homophobia. Then people might attend to what the Church has to say about the ethics of gay relationships.

Bishop Stephen wonders when most diocesan synods last sought a presentation from gay Christians about their life in Christ or dioceses last held day conferences on sexuality and faith. The trustees of Changing Attitude wondered whether there was any chance of the newly elected General Synod passing legislation which might change the two most pressing issues for LGBT Anglicans – equality in selection and training for ministry and in clergy appointments and the blessing of gay relationships in church.

We concluded that there is almost zero chance of this happening in the current quinquennium. When General Synod or the House of Bishops finally get around to a homophobic-free discussion and attitude it will be totally irrelevant to LGBT people whose place in society was transformed by the legislative changes introduced by the last government.

The trustees were taken by Bishop Stephen’s use of the phrase ‘human flourishing’ in his last paragraph. The gospel, he says, obliges us to build a healthy society which is both sensitive to all and responsible in deriving a moral code that promotes human flourishing, and that’s not how it feels at the moment for lesbian and gay people. Actually, for many it does feel as if that’s what our society promotes – it’s the Church that doesn’t.

Can we now expect Bishop Stephen himself to take a lead by persuading the House of Bishops to listen directly to the experience of LGBT people in an open way that allows for a real possibility of a change of heart, and will he consult the LGBT Anglican Coalition, which includes both LGCM and Changing Attitude, to hear our proposals for legislation which we would like General Synod to pass?

Colin Coward

Changing Attitude needs your help to get the Church to listen accurately to LGBT people and to pursue our campaign to change to church. Please become a supporter or make a donation.