What an intriguing dynamic, that as I begin to pick up the reins as Coordinator of CA that I should http://changingattitude.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/jez-605x426.jpg 605w, http://changingattitude.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/jez-75x53.jpg 75w, http://changingattitude.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/jez.jpg 944w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />find myself placed in an impossible situation by the Church of England.
I am a Reader, working, with a PTO issued by the Archbishop of York, in the Howden Team Ministry. This is a busy rural ministry where I am fully supported by all 6 churches, the Team Rector and Team Vicar. I enjoy a rich and varied ministry with all the churches in the team, from the grandeur of the Minster in Howden, to quiet country churches.
Following a meeting with the Archbishop on July 17th, I have been living with an ultimatum which I was then presented with. I have been in a civil partnership with Mike, since 2009, and we have been discussing commuting this to marriage for some time. I was told that although my ministry was much valued, if we change our status to being married then my PTO would be withdrawn with immediate effect. I was faced with choosing between marriage or ministry.
This has caused tears and soul searching, but at the weekend Mike and I had a trip to Leeds and chose two new rings to mark this new milestone in our lives together!
I have written to the Archbishop, and informed him of our intentions, and he will withdraw my PTO, and my ministry as a reader will come to an abrupt end. This will take place mid-September as I wanted to fulfil all the commitments I have in the diary.
I pointed out that if he were to withdraw my PTO then I would feel I had little choice but to continue my journey of faith outside the Church of England as all those things I explore with the churches such as welcome, encouragement, the recognition of gifts and ministries, growth and potential suddenly have no real meaning for me.
Many would ask, and sometimes do, why has it taken me so long to get to this point? I have always replied that my journey has been rooted and steeped in the Anglican tradition which is my tradition and I wanted to remain there, despite the injustice and hypocrisy I see for LGBTI folk. Now, I stand on the threshold of leaving, and joining the ranks of all those who feel they no longer have a place in the church.
Am I daunted? ….. No. I am not walking out into the desert alone (not that the desert is a bad place) but I am a member of a dispersed contemplative community, who are deeply supportive and enjoy a rich deep prayer life. This for me will become a holding place. It is also intriguing, the second intrigue, that our community, Contemplative Fire, is an Acknowledged Community by the Church of England, with Paul Bayes as our link Bishop, so I still have links with the Church but very much on the fringes.
It is an emotionally rough place to be at the moment; not only have I had to face up to the reality of the choice I was presented with, but now I am “going public” with what is happening the churches in the Team are angry and upset.
So my friends, it is with sharpened focus and vigour, I will work with the trustees to bring about the day when sexuality, gender identity and relationship status are no bar to a rich and full experience of life in the Church or its ministry, lay and ordained.
Thanks for your support.