For immediate release
Changing Attitude welcomes the nomination of a partnered gay candidate to be Bishop of Newark in the US Episcopal Church, and points out that the Episcopal Church and the Church of England both knowingly appoint gay bishops and clergy.
Colin Coward, the Director of Changing Attitude England, today welcome the announcement that the Diocese of Newark has included the Very Revd Canon Michael Barlowe in those nominated as candidates for the election of a new bishop for the Diocese.
Colin Coward said:
“Michael Barlowe and his partner have been friends of mine for over 20 years. In Michael and the other candidates, the diocese has selected people it believes will best serve the needs of the diocese as their new bishop. I am delighted that Michael has been nominated again, following his nomination in the recent election in his own diocese of California.
“The practice of the Church of England in consecrating bishops who are gay is the same as that of the Episcopal Church of the USA in all but three respects.
“The Church of England has many partnered priests who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Our Church has for at least fifty years consecrated bishops who are gay and partnered and continues to do so. We have many priests who are lesbian or gay who have registered their civil partnership and know their relationship is blessed by God, whether or not they have received a blessing in church. We differ from the Episcopal Church in these ways:
“Our bishops are appointed by a committee, not elected. They are not subject to the same process of public scrutiny and discernment. Nor are they appointed with the same degree of support and acclaim of the majority in their diocese. Our bishops are ’given’ to their dioceses.
“Secondly, what the Episcopal Church does openly and honestly, we do secretly and dishonestly. The Church of England appoints bishops and clergy who are gay and partnered. The Episcopal Church elects and consecrates partnered lesbian and gay people as bishops in fidelity to the gospel of love of our Lord Jesus Christ, responding to God’s call to faithful LGBT Christians.
“Thirdly, we are not yet able to appoint a lesbian as a bishop.
“The Archbishop of Canterbury in his paper published yesterday proposes a ‘covenant agreement’ in which some churches would be ‘constituent’ churches in the Anglican Communion and others ‘churches in association’. The proposal presents the Anglican Communion with an impossibility. Put simply: the Communion cannot exclude the Episcopal Church for doing honestly and publicly what the Church of England does knowingly but covertly. If the Episcopal Church only qualifies for associate status, so does the Church of England.
“A minority of extreme conservatives may wish to join potentially dissident churches like Nigeria and the American Anglican Council and pronounce that they are the ’Continuing Anglican Communion’. They will become a new sect. They have already abandoned the core of the Anglican ethos, the essential relationship between scripture, tradition and reason which underlies the way Anglicans do theology, make decisions and develop faithfully under God.
“At a Changing Attitude meeting yesterday, I was told yet again of the intense anxiety and fear many LGBT priests and lay people in the Church of England continue to suffer as a result of hostile attitudes in the church. The dishonest, secretive practice of the Church of England is utterly failing her LGBT clergy. They carry a burden of fear because the the Church of England is allowing itself to be bullied and taken hostage by her own extremist members and by other churches in the Communion. English bishops are failing in their task of prophecy and courageous pastoral care.”
Changing Attitude England is a national organisation of Bishops, Priests and Lay People in the Church of England calling for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Changing Attitude England has a network of 20 groups in 22 dioceses working to support LGBT clergy and lay people and arguing for a radical change in church attitudes by witnessing to the local church through personal testimony and education.
As a founder member of Inclusive Communion, Changing Attitude England is pledged to work for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in every Province of the Anglican Communion.
For further information please contact:
Revd Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude
Tel. Office: 01380 724908
Mobile: 07770 844302
Office: 12 Lavender Gardens, London, SW11 1DL