Dialogue Together

by Chris Glaser, USA

(Ephesians 3:18-19)

Creative Conversationalist,
You speak to us through Scripture,
Even today;
You cry to us through the oppressed,
Even today;
You rejoice with us through the uplifted,
Even today;
You pray with us through the church,
Even today;
Remind us through your incessant chattering
      That we do not need to stop talking among ourselves,
      No matter what conclusions we seem to arrive at.
Keep us talking.
Keep us listening.
Speak to us and through us:
Cry, rejoice and pray with us,
Even now.
In Christ.
In Spirit.

Unafraid: A Psalm for women who love other women

HandsHoldingCrossby Angela

I will not be afraid. They will not make me afraid. The icy stones they cast at me will melt into water. I shall not fear because the Lord is with me. Fear will be banished from my heart and I will rejoice. There will be rejoicing and dancing, but not fear. Singing, but not fear. Fear will be cast from me, and the seeds of fear will be cast away from me because the Lord cries out with joy every time my name is on the lips of the angels.

There will be no fear in this house. No cries of banishment from the Kingdom. No wailing at the walls, and no mourning in times of peace. Because this home will be a home in which the walls are built on the foundations of joy, both found and cultivated. There will be joy here, and thus no room for fear in this household of God. If fear returns like ever-persistent weeds, the Lord will cast it away, and plant flowers in its wake. Flowers, not weeds. The winters of fear will yield unto spring times of joy, even when winter looms large.

There will be no bitterness, only honey delivered by the bees as gift. There will be sweetness, and rejoicing for we have entered the land of the Lord, entered the gates of thanksgiving. There will be a chorus of angels who say “yes, yes, alleluia” who are glad when they hear our voices in the courtyard of the faithful. If our dancing threatens to turn to mourning, you O Lord will cast your nets and catch us and make us whole again. You, O Lord, will grant us peace when we cry out and say, “peace, peace, and yet there is no peace”. You will redeem us again even when our faces are pushed to the ground and ground into the mud. You will pick us up in frailty and dance us into wholeness. And fear will be cast out.

There will be healing because we will not be afraid. Our lack of fear will touch the lives of the fearful, and transform all of us into the priceless gems that you enjoined us to be. Oh God, we will not be afraid of you. We will not fear hell nor demons nor hate, when you are on our side. And while some others may make us think “your God is against you”, we will know that our God is on our side for we have been delivered unto love, love, love. You have bestowed upon us precious friends with whom we will share love, receive love and make love. And we will not be afraid, for where there is love, there God is.

Sadness, when it comes, will be offered to you as tears to turn to salt to add it to the ocean. We trust that the ocean’s waves will wipe away all envy and bitterness. Your voice will be clear to us in the garden, as you whisper, “I chose you both and made you upright”. There will be no fear because we will not be afraid of the dawn in the garden. The stars will spell out our names as every hair upon our heads is drawn towards the heavens and the sun’s rise. There will be no fear. We will not be afraid of the Light.

You are Love

by Michael Reiss, England

Dear Lord
You are the Way
Help us to find new ways of Walking
You are the Truth
Help us to find new ways of Talking
You are the Life
Help us to find new ways of Living
You are Love
Help us to find new ways of Loving. 

Amen.

ASEAN Pride Music Festival 2015

Jayne Ozanne is currently in Hanoi attending the ASEAN Pride Music Festival 2015 at the invitation of the US Embassy. The following is the event press release.

U.S. Embassy Hanoi and CAMA Vietnam to Host ASEAN Pride Music Festival 2015 with focus on Family

Hanoi, May 22, 2015 – The United States Embassy in Hanoi and CAMA Vietnam are proud to announce the second annual ASEAN Pride music festival. Celebrating family will top the agenda at this year’s festival – as artists from the United States, Vietnam, and around the region take to the stage at the American Club, 19-20 Hai Ba Trung Street in Hanoi to raise awareness about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.

ASEAN Pride 2015:  Celebrating Family builds on last year’s Pride Festival which Celebrated Diversity.  ASEAN Pride 2015 will take place June 20 from 1:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

As President Obama recently stated, “We take this opportunity to reaffirm that LGBT rights are human rights, to celebrate the dignity of every person, and to underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love….  Overseas, I am proud of the steps that the United States has taken to prioritize the protection and promotion of LGBT rights in our diplomacy and global outreach….  There is much more to do… and we will keep working, at home and abroad … until we are all able to live free and equal in dignity and rights.”

2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam.  As Secretary Kerry stated, “No two countries have worked harder, done more, and done better to try to bring themselves together and … change the future.”  Embassy Hanoi will help commemorate the 20th anniversary by headlining ASEAN Pride 2015 with U.S. indie rock band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, alongside Vietnam’s own transgender pop sensation Huong Giang Idol, Malaysia’s O.J. Law, Thai girl rockers Yellow Fang, Ho Chi Minh’s COCC, To Lam and his high-heel dance troupe, DJ Lotus Disco, and more.

With community booths, arts and crafts, plenty of food and drink, and a special tent geared to President Obama’s Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative, ASEAN Pride 2015 will showcase the quality and diversity of American and South East Asian musicians, create a safe space to celebrate the vibrancy of the LGBT community in Vietnam and the region, and CELEBRATE FAMILY.

Over 4,000 people joined the first ASEAN Pride in 2014.  This year’s event is shaping up to be even bigger and better. 

For more information on ASEAN Pride 2015 and tickets, go to the U.S. Embassy’s Facebook page where a limited number of free tickets are available for Vietnam’s youth.  To buy tickets, visit website.

http://www.aseanpride.com/

The Costly Price of Trust and Confidence

An article by Jayne Ozanne published in the Church of England Newspaper, .

Question: Why do leaders resign?

Answer: Because nine times out of 10 they’ve lost the trust and confidence of those they serve. If you “can’t buy me love”, then you definitely “can’t buy me trust” – and you most certainly “can’t buy me confidence”! Well, not unless you are prepared to pay sacrificially for it. Trust and confidence take significant time to build, and can be lost in a moment. Read the rest of the article…

 

Unbelievable? Does Scripture forbid same-sex relationships?

A debate between Robert Gagnon and Jayne Ozanne broadcast by Christian Premier Radio on 25 April 2015.

“Prof Robert Gagnon has become a well-known voice advocating the traditional biblical view on sexuality. In a highly charged show he debates the scriptural issues on sexuality with Jayne Ozanne  who came out as gay earlier this year.”

The debate caused a bit of a stir, and is available to listen to online or download.

Good Disagreement – Can we Disagree without being Disagreeable?

agree-to-disagree

Today we launch a new section to the AE Website – Good Disagreement – Jayne Ozanne explains….

If there’s one thing we see modelled in Christ, it is the fact that He met His critics head on.  He seems to be in constant dialogue with those who disagreed with Him, appealing time and time again to the greater law of love revealed consistently through scripture, rather than a strict adherence to the actual letter of the law.

That said, one of the things I find quite limiting about the way the Gospels are written down is the fact that they fail to convey the tone with which I believe Jesus would have spoken.  It is often easy to imagine an exasperated voice filled with anger and frustration – which no doubt comes from our own reaction to the situation: “You are like white-washed tombs!”  Always read with such relish by the Gospel reader.  But can we really be sure of how it was uttered? How it was said?

This is our Christ, the perfect embodiment of grace and truth – the Son of Man who is able to manifest fully all the fruits of the Spirit.  I am personally convinced that His tone would always have been one of loving patience and kindness – the same voice which found the strength to cry “Father Forgive” to those who had sought to crucify Him.

As we enter this time of Shared Conversations within the Anglican Church, I believe it will be the tone of these discussions that will mark us out as either a beacon for the world to admire, or a squabbling clique that becomes even more sidelined and marginalized.

To help us reflect on the nature of “Good Disagreement”, we have commissioned the Very Revd David Ison, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral to share his thoughts on this critical matter, drawing on his wide range of experience – particularly with inter-faith dialogue.  He raises some key issues which people from all sides will want to engage.

We are keen to enable this to happen, and have set up forums both on a dedicated webpage and on FaceBook for people to leave their thoughts and comments.

Please do join in the conversation – but please do so in a tone that recognises the pain and hurt on both sides.  Thank you.

Shared Conversations go live… get involved!

CofE logoThe Church of England has announced the next stage of its ‘Shared Conversations’ on sexuality which aim to promote greater mutual understanding, reconciliation, and the possibility of developing  ‘good disagreement’ in the Church.

David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, has been preparing the ground for such conversations for the past 2 years and the House of Bishops met for 3 days last year to pilot this conversational approach.

It will now be rolled out in 13 Regions across England over the next 12 months or so before the process comes to General Synod in July 2016.  Each Shared Conversation will last 3 days and have a wide spectrum of views represented.  More importantly, there will also be 2 or 3 LGBTI people from each diocese participating.

Accepting Evangelicals welcomes this new development for the Church of England.  Benny Hazlehurst said, “This process is deeper and more wide ranging than the CofE has ever engaged in before and we pray that good will come out of it for the whole Church.”

Jayne Ozanne said to Christian Today this week that it was critical for the Church to create forums where people of different views could engage “safely” with each other.  “For me, Jesus embodied grace and truth. It is about grace, and understanding the hurt of those who hold a different point of view.  For too long this has been a hot issue, a theological debate which has been a battle of words.  When you embody these words in experience and personal testimony as we see Jesus did, I believe they take on a new meaning and authority.”

Nothing is impossibleFull details and resources for the Conversations have been published on a dedicated website  http://www.sharedconversations.org/ 

Dates for the Regional Conversations can be found here and the Resource books can be downloaded here. 

We would encourage Anglican members of Accepting Evangelicals to offer to take part in these Conversations by writing to their Diocesan Bishop.

 

 

Two Pioneering Women

Bishop Libby LaneBy Elaine Sommers, Co Chair of Accepting Evangelicals

On January 26 the Revd Libby Lane hit the headlines when she was consecrated as the Bishop of Stockport, and the first woman bishop in the Church of England. There was much rejoicing as the Archbishop of York presided over this milestone event in the inclusion of women, albeit with a brief interruption from a protestor. It was a great day for all who support full equality in church leadership.

A somewhat less publicised event, which took place on the same day, was the funeral of the Revd Carol Stone, who died in December after a short illness.  She was the vicar of Upper Stratton, near Swindon, in the diocese of Bristol, a post which she had held since 1996.

Bishop MRev Carol Stoneike Hill published a beautiful tribute to her on his diocesan website, describing her as

‘a diligent, thoughtful and compassionate parish priest. She was both loved and valued by her ordained colleagues, but equally was loved by the people she served within and beyond the Church. She was in many senses an old fashioned parish priest who loved the Church of England, its worship and its people. It could truly be said that her ministry spanned all age groups.’

What he didn’t mention (possibly in honour of Carol’s wishes) was that she had started her ministry as a man, and subsequently transitioned to being Carol. According to a recent Church of England Newspaper report, she was the first transgender parish priest in the Church of England to do so.  Although we never met, we had corresponded a little and I had come to appreciate what a remarkable individual she was. The fact that she confided with her congregation about her trans nature, and that they in return supported her through and beyond her transition, says a lot about her courage, but also about the degree of love and acceptance shown by her parishioners, something which many of us would envy.

Other trans clergy have followed in Carol’s footsteps, and I don’t expect Libby will be the only woman bishop for long.  But being the first in anything is special.  So let us celebrate two pioneering women, on very different journeys, one ending, another beginning – separate paths, now drawn together by the same day.  May their lives be an example to us all, and for those who experience discrimination in the Church just because they are different, a source of encouragement and hope.

Libby and Carol, we salute you!