RADICAL INCLUSION .UK
please do not erase our lives, our love, and precious parts of who we are
'Life shrinks or expands, in proportion to one's courage'
IF NOTHING CHANGES AFTER 'LIVING IN LOVE AND FAITH'
Fundamental doctrine on human sexuality has not changed in 50 years, the issue repeatedly delayed, then moved further down the road into the future.
Meanwhile, church leaders have tried to control the process top-down, insisting a uniform position must be imposed on everyone, even against the consciences of priests and local church communities.
The 'Anglican Covenant', the Pilling Report, the 'Shared Conversations' listening process, resulted in no doctrinal change. Then further 'listening' was called for, and the production of teaching documents. So 'Living in Love and Faith' (LLF) was established. It involved many people opening themselves, and their wounds, and sharing just how much the Church was harming LGBT people.
So now, in Spring 2020, Living in Love and Faith is about to reveal its 'teaching documents'. In realistic terms the Church will remain divided down the middle, and - we are told - there will now be a further year or two of reflection. Meanwhile the recent 'Pastoral Statement' from the bishops has bluntly re-asserted a status quo with no sign of doctrine changing any time soon.
It's further delay. Yet TODAY grave harm is being done.
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Many priests and churches know this is wrong. They want to act on conscience - the known values of their local communities - and they want unashamed affirmation of gay and lesbian relationships (hence one of the questions in the Radical Inclusion Project's survey is "Would you publicly bless gay and lesbian relationships, if the Church allowed you to?"). And yet the top of the Church controls the process, with a status quo whuch is supposedly 'What the church believes' though we know it's not believed by half the Church.
There is no uniformity of conscience on these issues. Unity cannot be achieved by imposing a fake uniformity, which flouts the consciences of whole church communities. This has reached an intolerable impasse - intolerable because of the harm it is causing - a logjam to action - and really (as Scottish Anglicans already determined) because this is an intractable issue of conscience, the time is very near for grassroots local churches to assert the actual reality of belief in the Church of England today... to be true to themselves, true to LGBT people, true to the community beyond the church itself.
It is measured and respectful to everyone who has participated in LLF, that we see in the coming months what documents are presented. But the issue is doctrine, which is expressly not the remit of LLF. And the issue is harm being done in the present, grave harm.
Therefore, for the House of Bishops, the time has come - and is years overdue - having gone over and over these issues ad infinitum, to commit to a timetable for actual and specific and defined change in the doctrine and practice of the Church. Not change of tone. Not window-dressing. But change to the practice of the Church, in such a way that local churches are allowed to exercise conscience on these issues, and to publicly bless and affirm the relationships and lives of lesbian and gay people.
The bishops will meet this autumn. They need to decide this autumn. If they do not, then conscience and decency (and obedience to God) at local grassroots levels may be set in motion, on the basis of PCC and local church agreement to do so, because harm can't go on, and because being brave and decent as a community is just the right thing to do.
If LLF does not lead top-down to a commitment to change in doctrine and practice by the end of 2020... if just further years of delay lie ahead, then perhaps change needs to break out in 2021 from grassroots upwards - with collective action to assert: 'No, this is what we believe. This is what Radical Inclusion really is.'
The bishops need to commit, on an agreed time-scale, to allow each local church to follow conscience. They've done it in Scotland. Respect for conscience. So we can do it in England too. And with an actual time-scale for action. We badly need grace and love: need to recognise the good in other people, respect and protect conscience, resolve this difference, and then get on with our local service to the poor, the sick, the young, the elderly, the lonely and the vulnerable.
We are Church. We can do this. We need courage and resolution. And above all, because it's the greatest commandment, we need to get on and love, as each one of us become in God the whole of who God created us to be.
Two parallel sites have been created:
radicalinclusion.uk - the site you are visiting right now - is the 'quick read' version if you are in a hurry
radicalinclusion.co.uk is the in-depth site for reading more deeply on any section and to reflect further
~ click on any of the links below for more detailed versions of the pages available here in quick-read form: