I have been leading a ZOOM version of the Living in Love and Faith Course which is something of a curate’s egg in that some things are very good and others less than efficacious. The videos which explore the experiences and lives of Christians in different circumstances are by far the best part of the course and have opened up the greatest amount of discussion and conversation. The young, but very worthy presenters have had a number of reactions from the group including being rather patronizing, like play school presenters, reminiscent of Chris and Poy and speaking as if the official view of the established church is what “we believe” which, as the group has progressed is inaccurate at best.
The thing that has struck me most is the pain that many LGBTQ+ Christians go through in their journeys and specifically the pain caused by attitudes engendered by specific theology or doctrine.
My personal take on this from my lofty and somewhat privileged demographic as an AMHCB (Ageing Middle-class, Heterosexual, Christian, Bloke) is that all our attitudes and opinions should stem from the very simple premise that it is about being good disciples and following Jesus’ command that we should love one another as he loved us. Us AMHCB’s are pretty insulated from the difficulties many others face in their journeys so I am only too aware of the way in which pieces like this can sound patronising! Listening, Talking, discussing and learning are important here but more than anything else we should be seeking to listen to people’s stories so that we may understand their situations and have some empathy for their pain. (an that also goes for the issues faced by women, especially women in ministry.)
Reader / Licensed Lay Minister Colleagues I do urge you to take part in this, to register and to look at the stories no matter what your theological stance on this.
A couple of weeks ago I volunteered to be on the Church of England Ministry Mentor Directory and signed up to do the training which was very interesting and although I learned nothing new it did affirm that which I did know and have been practicing.
During the course I had a conversation with Keiren Bohan who is the coordinator of the Open-Table Network and is a Living in Love and Faith Chaplain and part of the National Team. His organisation seeks to support LGBTQ+ Christians though a network of Churches and it might be helpful to know the links in case you need to pass them on pastorally to help someone….. or indeed if it provokes you to have some more practical response.
The Open-Table Network’s response to LLF is worth Reading – here…. Open Table Network trustees respond to Church Of England’s Living In Love & Faith project — Open Table Network
I have just purchased a book that poses the question “Is it possible to hold a positive view of same-sex relationships while being a biblically rooted evangelical?”
Jayne Ozanne ed. anthology https://journeysingraceandtruth.com/
with contributions from a wide variety of people including several Bishops,
In this week’s Church Times: “Open Table: LGBT Christians ‘need more support’ LGBT Christians have been adversely affected by national lockdowns, be – cause they have lacked access to in-person emotional and spiritual support, a new report from the Open Table Network (OTN) suggests. OTN became a charity in March; it currently supports 18 LGBT church communities. “These are all people who have experienced prejudice and exclusion at home, in the workplace, local community, but especially in faith communities,” its report, prepared by Civil Society Consulting, explains. It recommends increasing OTN communities over the next three to five years and improving the running of existing groups to better “welcome, affirm and empower” LBGT Christians. This should be done by focusing on well-being, reduced social isolation, safe spaces, faith, and volunteering, it says”
You might also be interested in this independent report into the well-being of LGBTQ+ Christians and the need for Support – OTN case for support June 2021 web
There is a huge range of opinion and interpretation of theology by Readers across the Diocese and the issues can be both deeply personal and faith testing. That testing applying not just to LGBTQ+ Christians who are called to worship as part of a faith community or are called to ordination or Reader ministry but to those who feel that LGBTQ+ is profoundly challenging to their own take on theology and ‘Christian behaviour’….. I offer no answers, merely the suggestion that we should all engage in the conversation, listen to the stories and challenge our own views where appropriate.
If your parish/ benefice/ cluster is not engaging in the Living in Love and Faith Course but you would like to do a ZOOM version with other Readers – perhaps on a Wednesday evening I am happy to organise that.
Deacon’s marriage to divorcee halts her priesting (churchtimes.co.uk) And for Christians who are divorced there is also a good deal of pain and problem . See this week’s Church Times.