The trustees and Director of Changing Attitude met at the Peace Centre in Tadcaster from Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime for a residential meeting. Meeting for 48 hours provides time for us to talk at length (and some of us are good at that!) reflect at leisure and discuss both the practical needs of Changing Attitude and our strategy and vision. Our vision is developing and unfolding all the time and our strategic initiatives need to evolve and change in response to the developing vision.
On Friday evening for 2 hours and for the first hour on Saturday morning, I introduced a reflection (outlined in a previous blog) on the way in which we envisage or conceptualise ourselves in relationship to God and to the creation in which we dwell. I have become aware that we use religious language in ways traditional and radical which risk misunderstandings, and I wanted to check whether there was a common mind among the trustees of our theology, spirituality, ethics and morality. We discovered that there is, having cleared up misunderstandings and misconceptions along the way.
In the past decade, global communications have evolved at an exponentially dramatic rate. Decoding DNA, the exploration of deep space, the origins of the universe in the Big Bang, have expanded our awareness of the finite and the infinite in similarly dramatic ways. The evolutionary pace of the church, in response to the changed status of LGBT people in British society, for example, proceeds at a snail’s pace. The resistance in the church to granting any kind of equality or dignity to LGBT people is viewed with astonishment by those who are unaware that minority forces in the Church of England combine with a commitment to maintain unity in the Anglican Communion to prevent progress to full inclusion. The church looks like a dinosaur compared with the transformation of spiritual and scientific imagination and vision in the global community. We in Changing Attitude have no doubt that many are alienated by the Church’s lack of courage and vision. It takes extraordinary and often perverse determination to stay in the church, working for the full inclusion of LGBT people, when it is so dishonest in its practice and so
The extensive agenda covered several major topics, and I will write briefly about the most significant.
Marriage and Civil Partnerships
The agenda for marriage and civil partnerships for LGBT people has developed dramatically in the last 6 months with OutRage! advocating equality for all. The trustees agreed that we should be campaigning for equality in the Church of England, recognizing that our supporters have a variety of views, and we are campaigning for the freedom to make a choice, including the blessing of relationships and marriage in church.
The overnight conference planned for October didn’t take place because too few people were able to come, apart from Birmingham residents who wanted a non-residential event. Instead of a residential conference for Changing Attitude group leaders and Diocesan contacts we are planning two one-day conferences, one in Nottingham in May and the second in London in the autumn. The vision is to create days set in the context of a Eucharist which will help create a flourishing environment for LGBT Christians in particular and for all who yearn to participate in worship in which our dreams and longings for God, for intimacy, truth, tenderness and justice can find expression. It’s an ambitious aim, but we have an ambitious vision for the days and planning will begin immediately, finding churches which will create the environment in which we can pray, praise and worship with passion and glory.
LGBT Anglican Coalition
The Coalition meets this coming Saturday in Waterloo. Jeremy Timm is chairing the meeting on behalf of Changing Attitude – the group responsible for preparing the agenda this time. The chair rotates every 6 months. Some of the issues discussed at our residential will be brought to the Coalition as the more appropriate context for them to be dealt with. The issues include a strategy for General Synod and encouraging LGBT people with vocations, which we would like to develop in consultation with the Clergy Consultation.
Women in the Episcopate
The Director and every trustee is committed 100% to the successful passage of legislation which will open the episcopate to women.
Our campaign to discover whether the Church has a policy for Readers which equates them with the ordained ministry is progressing slowly. Progress has been made, and Jeremy Timm agreed to draft an article for submission to the Church Times.
The web site is being redesigned at the moment and should be online in November. We want to include brief videos on the site in the mode of the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign in the USA, with people describing their faith as someone who is LGB or T or supportive of our full inclusion. This is a project we hope to develop very quickly – if we can master the technology!
After a final session on Sunday morning, we concluded our time together with a Eucharist in the room we had set aside for prayer and meditation. Jeremy Pemberton had prepared a service in which we were primarily silent together. It brought the energy of our discussions into our worship, calmed and focused us as we broke bread and shared wine, absorbing the stillness and beauty of our creator and celebrating our faith in God’s infinite presence and love.
Our vision and our goals are ambitious. We are striving in faith for the Kingdom of God, in which all are welcome in a Church where all can flourish.