“We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons” … but when will this begin?
“While we reaffirm heterosexuality as the scriptural norm, we recognise the need for deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research. The Church, recognising the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual, encourages dialogue with them.” From Resolution 10 of the 1978 Lambeth Conference
“This Conference: 1. Reaffirms the statement of the Lambeth Conference of 1978 on homosexuality, recognising the continuing need in the next decade for “deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research.” 2. Urges such study and reflection to take account of biological, genetic and psychological research being undertaken by other agencies, and the socio-cultural factors that lead to the different attitudes in the provinces of our Communion. 3. Calls each province to reassess, in the light of such study and because of our concern for human rights, its care for and attitude towards persons of homosexual orientation” Resolution 64 of the 1988 Lambeth Conference
“We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ” 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10
The bishops at the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988 and 1998 encouraged dialogue with, and asked for a process of listening to, lesbian and gay people within the church.
The recently published Windsor Report, commissioned by the Primates, reinforced this commitment, reminding all in the Communion of the call for an ongoing process of listening and discernment with lesbian and gay people to be engaged in honestly and frankly.
As a matter of urgency, the Primates must now take practical steps to make this happen.
In order for gay and lesbian people to be able to speak about their experience and theology it is essential that the primates create a climate of safety in which we can tell our stories without fear of reprisal. A moratorium must be declared to ensure that no lesbian or gay person who works for the church can be sacked for speaking out.
In many parts of the Anglican Communion it is simply not possible for gay and lesbian people to speak of their experience or share with us their understanding of the Bible. Until this is made possible, the process of listening cannot be said to have properly begun.
Primates must not presume they have listened to us without asking us whether this has indeed been the case. The Primates need to initiate the deep and dispassionate study they have called for, ensuring they provide adequate resources for the study to be undertaken.
We are disappointed that the Lambeth Commission did not speak or listen to Bishop Gene Robinson and other gay and lesbian voices, as this gave no opportunity for the process to be received by inclusive Anglicans.
In order for this listening process to take place, the necessary climate of safety will require the setting up of a body that will seek actively to provide that safety. It will need to allow voices to be heard across national and provincial boundaries, especially in countries where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment. That body will need the authority to ensure that voices, even if they must be heard via third parties, can be heard without fear. This is reflected in our general concern for those hurt and alienated by the Windsor Report. There are no acceptable casualties in the Body of Christ.
This must not be an end to the process. We need an assurance that the listening process will run parallel to a discernment process that will recognise the interaction between questions of ecclesiology and ethics. We do not wish to concentrate on ecclesiology alone and long to talk about holy scripture and the ethics of lesbian and gay sexuality and relationships.
The full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the Church at all levels is a Gospel imperative
We do not approve of the moratoria on consecrations and blessings proposed. True discernment can only happen in the context of people’s experience of these developments. Moreover we cannot expect people’s lives to be put on hold while discernment takes place.”
We were unable to agree with the ACC representatives at the meeting as to whether or not the Covenant would act to bring people in the Communion together. Comparisons were made with the Porvoo Agreement and other similar ecumenical schemes but it was felt that these were of a different nature. The view was expressed by some present, that the Covenant process described by the Windsor Report was unlikely to be successful.
Giles Fraser – lnclusivechurch.net
Susan Russell – President, Integrity USA
Michael Hopkins – Integrity USA
Colin Coward – Director, Changing Attitude
Kelvin Holdsworth – Convenor, Changing Attitude Scotland
Richard Kirker – General Secretary, LGCM
Bertrand Olivier – Convenor, Clergy Consultation
Paul Collier – member of Church of England General Synod
Anthony Braddick-Southgate – Chair, Anglican Matters
Sally Rogers – Development Officer, Changing Attitude