“Blessed are the Brave” 2013 Corrymeela conference

25–27 January 2013, Corrymeela Centre, Ballycastle, Northern Ireland

A retreat for LGB&T affirming faith leaders.

Many people of faith do not feel represented by the public voices who decry LGB&T lives, loves and stories. However, it can be difficult to find support and solidarity. The Corrymeela Community is delighted to invite you to this residential retreat weekend. It will be a time to learn from and deepen our commitment to LGB&T voices of faith.

Website: corrymeela.org. Email: retreats@corrymeela.org.

Invitation [PDF].

Second statement on equal marriage

The Coalition welcomes the government proposals published on 11 December, and in particular the following points:

• religious bodies are allowed to opt in voluntarily,
• no religious body or individual is compelled to act against conscience, and
• transgendered married people who apply for full gender recognition will no longer have to dissolve their marriages.

However, as Anglican Christians, laity and clergy, we are disappointed that the proposals to exclude both the Church of England and the Church in Wales appear to impose an additional barrier should these churches decide in future that they wish to marry same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. If this were the case, it would reduce religious freedom.

As a Coalition we have repeatedly pointed out that the Church of England’s official submission did not reflect the views of the many members of the Church of England who are in favour of equal marriage, and we are also aware that there is support among many in the Church in Wales. These churches should be as free to opt in as any others.

The Archbishop of Wales has made it clear that any additional obstacle would be unwelcome. The Church of England’s leadership is reportedly shocked at such an outcome, though it appears to reflect precisely what the Church requested in its submission, published in June. Church reactions to the Government’s proposals do confirm that the Church of England’s official position is out of touch, not only with a significant number of its own members, but with the majority body of public opinion.

We will be advising the organisations in our coalition to invite all of their members to write to their MPs calling for a review of the implications of the so-called quadruple locks in the proposed legislation, especially the fourth, which relates to the Church of England and the Church in Wales. In our view this fourth lock would inhibit the religious freedom of the people we represent, and who are in favour of equal marriage in these churches.

Press Release [PDF].

Letter to Justin Welby (archbishop-elect)

Text of a letter to Justin Welby, Archbishop-elect of Canterbury:

Dear Bishop Justin,

We are writing as the current co-chairs of the LGB&T Anglican Coalition to congratulate you on your nomination as Archbishop of Canterbury, and to assure you of our prayers as you prepare to assume the responsibilities of your new office.

The Coalition was heartened by your first press conference, particularly your statement that ‘We must have no truck with any form of homophobia, in any part of the church’, and your desire ‘to listen very attentively to the LGB&T communities and examine … [your] own thinking on sexuality prayerfully and carefully.’

We would add our hope and expectation that you will also extend this approach to gender identity in order to include transgender people.

As a coalition of eight organisations or groups committed to and working for the full inclusion of LGB&T people within the Church of England, with many supporters, and our huge range of experience in this area, we hope that you will be willing to meet with us at an early stage as you ponder these particular issues.

With the working parties on civil partnerships and human sexuality, commissioned by the House of Bishops, due to report soon, and government proposals for equal civil marriage about to be unveiled, it seems likely that sexuality and gender, will be high on the Church of England’s agenda in 2013. We look forward to engaging in dialogue with you about these matters and how they affect the Church’s mission and its ministry to all people.

Yours sincerely,

Christina Beardsley
Susan Gilchrist
Elaine Sommers

Coalition statement on equal marriage

The Coalition is delighted that David Cameron has said the government’s proposals on equal marriage will include an option for ceremonies to take place on religious premises.

This outcome concurs with our own submission to the government’s consultation, and those of our partner organizations.

It is a matter of regret that the latest official Church of England response makes absolutely no mention of the breadth of views on this matter within the Church itself.

Print version [PDF].