Thursday 13 August 2009

Angry Anglicans

The last four weeks have witnessed a dramatic change in the dynamic of the conflicts in the Anglican Communion. The Reflections on General Convention by the Archbishop of Canterbury and their elucidation by the Bishop of Durham have provoked a passionate reaction among Anglicans committed to truth, justice and inclusion. People are angry.

I am angry. Angry because of the language used. The Archbishop referred to ‘chosen lifestyle’ and Durham to ‘non-celibate homosexuals’, ‘homosexual instincts’ and ‘certain habits and styles of life’, language which I find provocative and offensive. Trying to be charitable, I can only assume the Archbishop’s paper was drafted by a member of staff whose natural instinct is to ally with the GAFCON/FOCA/ACNA axis and the Archbishop let the phrase stand.

I’m angry because of the disgraceful dishonesty which infects the Church of England. It is almost tedious to remind the church, bishops and archbishops included, that every diocese includes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parishioners and priests, something they know (or should know) perfectly well. How dare they write as if LGBT people don’t exist here and are only present (problematically) in the North American Churches?

We are no longer invisible and neither are our partners. We LGBT Anglicans are present in General Synod, the House of Bishops and bishop’s staff meetings. Bishops lay hands on us and give us communion, appoint us, counsel us, take advice from us, anoint, heal and forgive us. How dare they write as if we don’t exist and are not fully present throughout the Church? We are a gift from God to the Church.

I’m angry because some of the conservative evangelical and anglo-catholic bloggers insidiously undermine the Church all the time by deceitful spinning. They poison the Church, damaging individual souls and the corporate body of the Church alike. They infect the Instruments of Communion - Primates, ACC meetings and Lambeth conferences with their own divisive views. I have witnessed the conservative lobby at work.

I am angry because some bishops in my Church, the Church of England, have bought into the lie about The Episcopal Church. They believe the lie that it has chosen to walk apart, torn the fabric of the Communion, and is alone responsible for the mess we are in. The reality is that The Episcopal Church has committed itself to walking together with the Communion. It is the ACNA/FOCA leaders who peddle the lie about the torn fabric. Indeed, their behaviour suggests that they delight in 'torn fabric'.

I am angry because English bishops prevaricate and hold the party line in public whilst partying with their LGBT brothers and sisters in private. Many of them offer wonderful, generous friendship and pastoral support and then, at critical moments, fail the test – deny couples a blessing in church, offer compromised support at times of sickness and distress, turn a blind eye and allow partnered LGBT lay people to preach and lead worship but refuse to grant licences.

I’m angry at the way the church's attitude to LGBT people undermines mission and evangelism. We are mired in controversy about something which no longer troubles British society. We are unfit for purpose as the Body of Christ at a time when society sees the church as less relevant than ever. I’m tired of the church wasting time, money and energy on something that can’t be resolved at present. The Church has to accept the diversity present within God’s people.

I’m angry because of the lies that are told about us, the smear campaign waged to link Changing Attitude’s work for the full inclusion of LGBT people with polyamoury, bestiality and sado-masochism. It’s an outrage being perpetrated by people claiming the moral, Christian high ground. They emphatically do not occupy it.

I’m angry because the small but significant LGBT Anglican minority is being asked to forgo progress towards full inclusion now. There are LGBT people in every Province, for goodness sake, some being persecuted, attacked and imprisoned because of their sexuality. It isn’t only LGBT people in the UK and North America who are paying the price.

We are not campaigning for schism or exclusion but for the Gospel of Jesus Christ which we live and proclaim and the God we love and worship. We have been too patient, too tolerant, too generous and understanding towards those who judge us unfairly. This month, the tipping point was reached. Our campaign for equality will become more vigorous and our defence of classic, Anglican, Christian values more assertive. Changing Attitude with our partner groups in the Rainbow Alliance are standing firm in the mainstream of Anglicanism.


  1. Vince Chiumento, St Luke in the Fields, NYC13 August 2009 at 19:56

    "Yes, we are angry and we are not going to take it any more!" Thanks for the courage of TEC's GC. Their resolutions finally stated who TEC is and where it is heading. It takes on the prophetic mission of the Communion along with all people of good faith who see not distinctions bewtween men & women or straight or LGBT people who are one in Christ in the Baptismal Covenant. One should be angry... the only lifestyle one chooses is to honest and truthful to God who created all of us and gives us the grace to chose to be who we are and not afrtaid of closets or homorphobic leaders whether in body politic or church. When is His Grace going to call to taks the many leaders of this Communion who call for death and imprisonment of LGBT faithful in their churches? His are words and no actions.... such cowardice to choose unity over the truth.

    TEC does not wish to rend the communion apart and at every turn affirms the loive for the communion. But no one listens... they only seems to hear what tears the church asunder rather than any healing listening to TEC's affirmative actions for the whole Body of Christ. When are we truly going to act as Anglicans... we are not Rome nor should we deny our actions to appease Rome or Orthodoxy? Why does the Archbishop push a multi-tiered covenant when the ACC acts as the bond of the Communion. We are not a centrist church with one voice that soeaks with the heresy of magisterium but many voices inspired by the many movements of the Holy Spirit leading many churches to evolve in how each one uniqueky proclaims Christ crucified, dead and risen!
    When is the Archbishop going to publically acknowledge that this controversy is more about class struggle and world struggle than any theological truth....
    TEC continues to be the voice of reason in the Communion and it is about time all those who believe in the truth of the Gospels rise up in righteous anger to prophetically proclaim that the only thing the LGBT faithful choose is to be open and happy.

  2. The ¨mainstream of Anglicanism¨ has yet to reveal itself fully...thanks for smacking the lies and ignorant ¨generalities¨ out of the way...less will be concealed if WE ALL get follow your habit of facing REALITY and escaping from the selective Scriptural witness that occupies denial and pretend (at some of the highest levels of Anglicanlife).

  3. Colin: What you say is true. There are gay people everywhere. They must be respected, and they must be given their rights and their dignity. Who sings in choirs, and who plays the organs of the Christian church? Many times it is a gay person. Enough of Christian scaoegoating. It is no better than any other scapegoating. Where science and religion conflict, over yhe long term science will win. The smart theologian incorporates the new knowledge into his ancient story, This is no less true about human sexuality than it is about any other field of research like biology. C.D. Guyer

  4. Don't be angry: it only makes bishops feel that what they say matters any more. Seneca said disappointment is a function of expectation and Rowan Williams has finally disappointed many who had great expectations of him, which is a shame. But the point is precisely as you wrote: 'We are mired in controversy about something which no longer troubles British society.' When bishops talk out of their vanity, affraid for their careers, they sound like what they are. At the moment bishops think that gays are not a significant group, they don't realise that it's not the number of actual gays that matters but the fact that being concerned about gays today makes you look ridiculous; and noone close tends to disagree with bishops because they want their names on the list to be one, which bishops control. We cannot rely on bishops for anything but their vanity, but that's not news - however, as the churches empty and the House of Lords seats look vulnerable they will feel it where it hurts: in their status, and then we will see a change.

  5. Colin - Thank you for expressing so well the anger and hurt that so many of us are feeling.

    Being a youngish and newly civil partnered priest, I am daily flawed by the hypocracy and fear that surrounds me from both layity and clergy. Instead of being the joyful, liberated people of God - as the Gospel allows Christians to be - often all I see around me is the gloom that just pervades Holy Church at almost every level.

    No wonder the world is fast seperating its self from what it sees as an outmoded, old fashioned millstone around the neck of society. To many people, the Church is a dying relic and the sooner it is gone (the church) - the better.

    But I don't agree with all that the world thinks of Holy Church. She is the Bride of Christ. The Gospel she proclaims is one of full inclusion and unconditional love for all humankind.

    Christ loves his Bride - we must never forget that. The Sacraments are life giving and must be offered to all and must be taken up by all.

    Christ has never abandon's His Church.

    Elijah was the only man left with faith in his time - but God triumphed. Jesus was strung up on the Cross with only Mary (a widowed mother), St John (???perhaps a gay man???) and Mary Magdalene (???perhaps a prostitute or vilified woman???) left to support Him - but He triumphed.

    I truly believe the Holy Spirit is moving and shaking the Church and Society and we are seeing the pain of upheavel and challenge presented to people who procalim themselves Christisans. It is the arrogance and ignorance of humanity that trys to hold the Spirit back. Humanity can NEVER stop God from being triumphant - especially those who call themselves Christians and work their lies and deceit from inside "the Church".

    I pray that we rejoice that we are part of God's dynamic and transforming plan and sak to be carried along with the Holy Spirit and share the Gospel message of Love, Love, Inclusive Love.

  6. Anger is not necessarily a bad thing - there is such a thing as righteous indignation. On the other hand, I think the emphasis of 'Anonymous' is wiser, and the position of Wright and people like him will indeed look and sound ever more ridiculous, so that even they will abandon it in time. Remember Joel Edwards (who of course doesn't emerge well from Stephen Bates' book) at the end of his stint: 'Christians must stop shouting about homosexuality'. Sooner or later, the penny will drop. Stand firm, contravert (as in your two reasoned pieces), don't give ammunition.

  7. Kurt from Brooklyn14 August 2009 at 18:27

    Right on, Colin!

  8. Anger seems to have had a conservative priest removed but like all things the real reason could be quite different.

  9. Colin - Met you years ago on a trip 'cross the pond. Commend you on your organization and stance. Anger at injustice, hypocracy has its place. Dear Rowan must have a great set of blinders or selective sight - facts are difficult to see when you avoid them! Carry on, young man. Well done.