Since I announced the dilemma I found myself in, following a meeting with the Archbishop of York, who presented me with the choice, of either continuing in ministry as a Reader, or commuting my Civil Partnership to marriage and have my PTO (Permission To Officiate) withdrawn, I have been overwhelmed by loving support and prayers from so many friends. As I write this I have cards on the desk in front of me, sent by friends who I have never met before, sharing their pain over this situation. I am so very grateful for all this support, whether on Facebook, Twitter, e mail or cards …. Friends, thank you one and all.
I will be officiating at my last service on Sunday 20th September, 10.45am, in Howden Minster. If any of you would like to join us for that service of Morning Prayer, the Churchwarden has already said visitors would be most welcome, and there are whispers of a lunch after the service. It would be a great opportunity to meet some of the friends who have supported me, and the local team of churches over the past few weeks. Also to have friends from across the country there would be a show of frustration with the church’s current attitudes and teaching. At the end of the service I will hand over my Reader’s scarf to the church warden and ask that she finds a corner in that wonderful minster church to display it, firstly as a sign of the inclusive stance they take as a church, and as a symbol of hope that one day sexuality, gender identity or relationship status will be no barrier to a rich and full life in the church and its ministry.
Sadly for me the church will no longer be a place of growth, encouragement and flourishing, so I will continue to walk the Christ Path with a different community. I am already a member of Contemplative Fire, a dispersed community which began life as a Fresh Expression of Church, and is now an Acknowledged Community by the Church of England. Thus, I will still be part of the Anglican family, although very much on the edge.
I will continue in my role as Coordinator of Changing Attitude, as clearly there is much work to be done, and with a dynamic board of trustees, and all the support we clearly enjoy across the country we will keep the pressure on the church until we see, and share in it as a truly inclusive institution.
Thank you again for your love and prayers, and it would be wonderful to see you on 20th September, if you were able to join us for Morning Prayer at Howden Minster.