March 2011 Newsletter

Dear Friends

This month we focus on the UK with 2 very different events – one a change of Government policy, the other following the death of the first openly gay Anglican Bishop.  We also bring you up to date with exciting news about Accepting Evangelicals!

UK Government unveils plans for ‘religious’ Civil Partnerships …

Almost a year after the vote by the House of Lords to allow religious buildings to be used for Civil Partnerships, the Government has unveiled its plans to change the law to allow this.

Many members of Accepting Evangelicals signed a petition calling for a change in the law,  after various religious bodies including the Quakers and liberal Synagogues indicated that they wanted to be able to offer Civil Partnerships in the context of a religious service.

LGBT groups have welcomed the policy change, pointing out that there are many same-sex couples for whom their faith is a central part of their lives, but that any religious content in Civil Partnership ceremonies is forbidden at present.

There has been an angry reaction however, from many conservative groups, including Anglican Mainstream who have said that this amounts to government intimidation of Christians and the church.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said that “no religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration.” but what worries many conservative evangelicals is the indication that the Government also wants to look at ‘marriage equality’ for same-sex couples.

To see the full Government statement, follow this link

UK’s first openly gay Bishop dies…

Bishop Derek Rawcliffe, former Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway, has died aged 89.  He became the first Anglican Bishop to publically declare his homosexuality in 1995 in a TV interview for the BBC’s Newsnight,.

Bishop Rawcliffe, was awarded the OBE for his earlier work in the South Pacific and devoted much of his time in retirement to supporting asylum seekers and those in poverty in Yorkshire where he had settled.   But he was dismissed as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds  soon after he ‘came out’, when he presided at the blessing of a same sex union.

There have been many obituaries published, but perhaps the most helpful is the one which appeared in the Yorkshire Post.  You can also hear a section of his Newsnight  interview on the BBC iplayer from ‘Last Word’  – the piece starts 8 minutes in.

New-Look Accepting Evangelicals Website goes live!

We are very happy to announce that our new-look Website is now on-line.  As well as giving AE a more professional look, we also hope that you will find it easier to navigate, and easier for new members to join, or for enquirers to sign up to receive Newsletters.

There will also be a AE Blog which will be updated with new posting every Monday, and will provide the opportunity to comment on the issues it raises.

So go and have a look and let us know what you think!   http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org

You will also find a new Story, from Jane, an AE member who was a worship leader in her Baptist Church for many years.  He story begins, I have been a Christian for 27 years, 25 of which were spent firmly in the ‘closet’.

Accepting Evangelicals on TV !

Finally, our Secretary, Benny Hazlehurst was interviewed live on ITV’s ‘Daybreak’ programme last month on the subject of same sex partnerships.

Having left full-time parish ministry recently, Benny is available to speak to churches, students, home-groups and the press about Accepting Evangelicals.  He has recently spoken at seminars in Trinity Theological College, and the University of the West of England, and is currently receiving invitations for the year ahead.

If you would like Benny to come and speak, and can meet his travel expenses please email him at benny@acceptingevangelicals.org  

God Bless and Keep You…

Accepting Evangelicals

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