Energising the C of E to radically inclusive mission and ministry

The trustees of Changing Attitude England met yesterday in central London, in a room overlooking Piccadilly Circus. A potential new lesbian trustee also joined us.

The landscape in which our campaign for the full inclusion of LGB&T people in the Church of England is being progressed had changed dramatically following the no vote on women in the episcopate. The landscape was already undergoing a change, and our letter sent to every bishop two months ago was the most practical example of our decision to engage more directly with the College of Bishops. Any change of policy or teaching is going to come ultimately from the House of Bishops. We plan to continue to engage with them directly and personally.

Our strategy is moving in the direction of addressing the failure of the Church as a whole and of each diocese to ever question how the ministry to LGB&T people is going. I know some bishops have asked the question, but what they learnt as a result has had a relatively superficial effect within their diocese. It’s a question neither the trustees nor I have ever thought to ask. Someone pointed out that the Church of England doesn’t know what it has to offer to LGB&T people and LGB&T people don’t know what they have to offer to the Church.

We found ourselves reflecting on a bigger question, having been challenged as to why we don’t have an Alpha course for gays. Actually, I think some Welcoming and Open Congregations may use an adapted version of Alpha and there are other, more inclusive courses such as Inclusive Church’s Living Christianity.

One of my concerns, which I have until now I haven’t seen as connected with CA’s campaign work is my deep frustration at the Church’s lack of connection with people’s natural, innate spirituality and awareness of the divine and the failure of inclusive churches (for want of a better shorthand name) to engage in mission and evangelism with the same confidence as congregations which adopt Alpha. The problem with Alpha is the underlying conservative moral stance, but it’s not insuperable.

What does need to be overcome is the lack of enthusiasm to proclaim a Gospel of radically inclusive love. The failure results, I think, from the inability of so many congregations and individual Christians to have been infected with God’s infinite and intimate love and the lack of confidence that goes with it.

Changing Attitude plans to become more inspirational and aspirational. We plan to move beyond our campaign to persuade the Church to accept LGB&T people as equals in the Kingdom of God. We want to energise the Church and motivate Christians to have confidence in the Gospel as the Spirit is unfolding a new revelation in our time and culture. We want to proclaim God’s infinite love for all. We want to wake bishops, dioceses, parishes and individuals up to the fact that congregations which are excited by their encounter with the holy and are convicted by the reality that all people really are welcome can grow in confidence, energy, vision, depth and truth.

Piccadilly Circus from the 1st floor conference room

Comments

  1. says

    Great stuff, Colin – though I must admit the Alpha Course (and I’ve had to endure it two or three times now) always makes me cringe and feel far less of a Christian!…

    Surely there must be something else less narrow out there? One would hope so!

  2. Trevor Thurston-Smith says

    An LGBT Alpha Course????!! I love it ; if only because of the flutterings it will cause in the dovecotes at HTB! Perhaps my own prjudices are showing (I’m by no means immune to them) but I’ve always thought that, contrary to all its “open” claims, Alpha peddles a distinct brand of evengelicalism which doesn’t sit comfortably with a more inclusive agenda. There again, maybe we should working to change it rather than keeping Alpha at arm’s length which has been my strategy thus far.

  3. says

    Anne, I’ve never taken part in an Alpha course and I’ve carried prejudices about Alpha’s attitude to LGB&T people, but I’ve learnt that even affirming catholic churches are using Alpha successfully. There are other courses out there, but I think the problem is that liberals/centre ground people/inclusives, don’t see the need to actively proclaim a gospel of inclusive love that sets out to engage people and, to use a word my prejuidce thinks is ‘dirty’ – convert them!

    Trevor, yes, we share a prejudice! I’ve also learnt that there is asignificant distinction between evangelicals in general – the majority – and those who claim the title evangelical – those on General Synod and in Reform and Anglican Mainstream. They are totally unrepresentative, as the Synod elections and vote showed. The members of their congregations don’t all share the anti-gay stance. Indeed, they often include partnered gay couples. Even Fulcrum fails to represent the spectrum of Evangelical thinking in their constituency.

    What is needed now, which is what I’m driving at in the blog, is that we need to overcome our lingering defensiveness and inhibitions and launch a campaign to convert the Church of England to an inclusive, welcoming, affirming Gospel and to offer those in our society who are spiritual seekers, an experience of real welcome and love, intelligent faith and deep spirituality.

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