Saturday 2 May 2009

Anglican Consultative Council 14 – Kingston Jamaica

I’ve just attended the media induction meeting at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. There are slightly more media representatives here than were at the Primates meeting in Alexandria, with some yet to arrive. The mood feels relaxed, positive and confident. Anglican Mainstream is the only other UK group represented here, the others coming from North America.

I was unsure whether I should come, knowing that I need to be very discrete as a gay man visiting Jamaica and anxious that because I am here to blog and report publicly, my security might be compromised. Trust in the Lord, Colin. It is a gift to be here, in a country that feels less safe than the African countries I have visited. The other people staying in my hotel are somewhat edgy. It is also more dramatic, mountains rising steeply behind Kingston (I know Africa has drama but I have yet to visit beyond coastal areas).

Will there be drama here this week? The hope of the ACC is rightly that attention will focus on mission in the Communion.

The main conservative web sites have been focussing on talking up ACNA, their hoped for, new North American Province. The Province is almost certainly never going to be formally approved. I don’t think they want approval, I think they want an excuse to go it alone and set themselves up as the True ‘Orthodox’ ‘Mainstream’ Anglican Communion. It is in their interest to create a narrative about this meeting that questions its legitimacy.

It isn’t easy to stay grounded in Christian witness which seeks to proclaim the generous love and justice of God when we have to defend LGBT people all the time against those who wish to ‘heal’, marginalise or exclude us or ‘welcome’ us on their unacceptable terms.

LGBT people are engaged in mission, whether it be as individuals engaged in mission at home or overseas or in reaching out in the context of Greenbelt or Spring Harvest. Mission is an activity of the whole church and the whole church has lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, who also need to participate in mission, communicating the love of God to LGBT people.

A representative of the Church of Jamaica was present at this morning’s briefing. She said the one question the Jamaican press have been asking is about homosexuality. The press push it onto the agenda, those opposed to the full inclusion of LGBT people push it onto the agenda, and I am happy to be here to field questions and respond. I feel safe because I know that the Communion is a Christian body which strives to be open and understanding, even when Provinces and bishops claim that homosexuality is unbiblical.

I will be present at tomorrow morning’s Provincial and Diocesan Service in the 8,000 capacity National Arena, and so will many other LGBT Jamaican Anglicans, too frightened to reveal themselves in a country which openly expresses aggressive attitudes against gay people. This is an unwelcome but serious challenge for mission in the worldwide Anglican Communion to which the ‘we can make you a happy heterosexual’ claims of Joseph Nicolosi are no answer at all.

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