Church of England edges forward…
In the lead up to this weekend’s sessions of General Synod in York, the CofE has published its plan for ‘Shared Conversations’ on sexuality.
Over the next 2 years, a series of meetings will aim to deepen mutual understanding, and explore ways of modelling ‘good disagreement’. The first of these meetings will be in September when the College of Bishops spends two days in small groups with trained facilitators, and will conclude with a similar process for the newly elected General Synod in 2016.
One of the key ingredients in these shared conversations will be honesty and openness. With this in mind, Canon Simon Butler has tabled a question at this month’s Synod which asks,
“In the forthcoming process of shared conversations what procedures and process are the House of Bishops establishing to ensure that sufficient confidence is given to its gay members to enable them to safely declare their sexuality?”
Accepting Evangelicals will be at General Synod in York hosting a fringe meeting with speakers David Runcorn and the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, David Ison. Over 30 members of Synod have signed up to attend.
But also takes two steps back…
This week it has emerged that Hospital Chaplain, Rev Jeremy Pemberton has been blocked by his Bishop from taking up a new post after marrying his partner, Lawrence Cunningham earlier this year.
Jeremy is already serving NHS Chaplain but when he was offered a more senior position at another hospital trust, the Acting Bishop of Southwell refused to grant him a license (a pre-requisite for Anglican Chaplains) because of his same-sex marriage.
This has led to the strange situation where the NHS, which is an equal opportunities employer, is now having to discriminate against one of its employees by withdrawing the job offer.
The full story is in this week’s Church Times – follow this link.
Better news in the USA…
Frank Schaefer, the United Methodist Church pastor from Pennsylvania, who was suspended from his church for presiding over his son’s same-sex wedding ceremony, has been reinstated by a nine-person United Methodist Church appeals panel.
In response, Frank Schaefer said “I’ve devoted my life to this church, to serving this church, and to be restored and to be able to call myself a reverend again and to speak with this voice means so much to me,” He intends to continue to work for gay rights “with an even stronger voice from within the United Methodist Church”.
The church suspended Frank Schaefer, of Pennsylvania, last year for officiating his son’s 2007 wedding. The church then defrocked Schaefer because he wouldn’t promise never to preside over another gay ceremony.
Schaefer appealed, arguing the decision was wrong because it was based on an assumption he would break church law in the future. The appeals panel, which met last week to hear the case, upheld a 30-day suspension that Schaefer has already served and said he should get back-pay dating to when the suspension ended in December.
This Guardian article outlines the details.
And among Presbyterians…
The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted last month to allow same-sex weddings within the church, making it among the largest Christian denominations to take an embracing step toward same-sex marriage.
By a 76-24 percent vote, the General Assembly of the 1.8 million-member PCUSA voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages in states where they are legal. Delegates, meeting in Detroit in late June, also approved new language about marriage in the church’s Book of Order, altering references to “a man and woman” to “two persons.” This change will not become church law until a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries vote to ratify the new language. But given the lopsided 3-1 ratio of the vote, approval is expected.
Gay rights activists within the church rejoiced at their victory, which was remarkable for its margin of victory after multiple years of razor-thin defeats. “This vote is an answer to many prayers for the church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples,” said Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a group that has led the fight for gay marriage within the church.
And finally – more Patrons for Accepting Evangelicals…
We are delighted to welcome two more Patrons for AE!
Rev Ruth Gouldbourne is co-minister at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in London, having taught history and doctrine at Bristol Baptist College.
Jeremy Marks was the first ‘ex-gay’ evangelical leader in the UK to turn his back on the idea that God wanted to re-orientate LGBT people – 14 years ago! Every since he has worked to affirm LGBT people and couples in their faith and sexuality.
See more on our Patrons Page here.
God Bless and Keep You