Church to Discipline Lay Person for entering a Civil Marriage

Press Release from the LGBTI Anglican Coalition 14 September 2015

The LGBTI Anglican Coalition is shocked to learn that the Archbishop of York proposes to remove his permission for Jeremy Timm to officiate as a Reader in his diocese, solely because he chooses to convert his longstanding civil partnership into a civil marriage. Jeremy is also the National Coordinator of Changing Attitude England.

We believe this is the first known instance of such action being taken against a lay person in the Church of England since the February 2014 publication by the House of Bishops of their Statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The sanctions described in that document specifically referred to clergy and ordinands only.

As we said in February 2014, those sanctions are cruel and unjust to clergy, and we look forward to the time when being lawfully married is no barrier to any ordained or licensed ministry.

This unwarranted extension of these policies to lay persons is doubly objectionable, will further damage the Church’s mission, and seriously undermines its credibility to the English public. The situation is exacerbated by observed inconsistencies of approach between dioceses.

The Chairs of both the Coalition and Changing Attitude England have therefore jointly written to the Bishop of Sheffield, as the lead bishop with responsibility in the area of Human Sexuality, to request urgent clarification of the policy of the Church of England in relation to lay couples of the same gender who enter a civil marriage.

Coalition supports shared conversations

From 15 to 17 September, the College of Bishops of the Church of England will be meeting for two days to start the process of Shared Conversations on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The LGBTI Anglican Coalition welcomes this first step and our members will be praying for a successful outcome to the meeting. Although we have reservations about the context in which this is taking place – articulated very clearly in the recent letter sent from the Trustees of Changing Attitude to all those attending the meeting – nevertheless we welcome the initiative, and hope it bears fruit…

Press Statement [PDF].

Religious leaders support marriage for same-sex couples

28 March 2014: Joint press release from the Cutting Edge Consortium and the LGBTI Anglican Coalition.

A number of religious leaders have signed the statement below. A press conference and photo-call will be held at Friends House, 173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ at 11 am on Friday 28 March 2014.

We rejoice that from tomorrow same-sex couples will be able to marry in England and Wales.

As persons of faith, we welcome this further development in our marriage law, which has evolved over the centuries in response to changes in society and in scientific knowledge.

We acknowledge that some (though not all) of the faith organisations to which we belong do not share our joy, and continue to express opposition in principle to such marriages. We look forward to the time, sooner rather than later, when all people of faith will feel able to welcome this development.

Press Release [PDF].

Open letter to bishops regarding ‘pastoral guidance’

LGBTI Anglican Coalition open letter to the House of Bishops regarding ‘pastoral guidance’ on same sex marriage issued 14 Febraury 2014

The statement on the Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, issued by the House of Bishops 14 February 2014 has caused a great deal of anger and dismay amongst the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex communities, not least because its tone and action has foreclosed on many of the issues which should be the subject of the facilitated discussions called for in the Pilling Report. We remain committed to these discussions but given the breakdown in trust which has resulted from recent actions it is now even more important that these conversations take place in a way which is not only impartial, but which is seen to be impartial by all of the bodies that are concerned.

We look forward to the opportunity of continued debate, and the open letter, attached, which has been sent to the House of Bishops of the Church of England is intended to help to rebuild some of the ground upon which the debate may take place.

Open Letter [PDF].

Response to bishops’ ‘pastoral guidance’

LGBTI Anglican Coalition response to the Church of England House of Bishops ‘pastoral guidance’ document on same sex marriage issued 14 February 2014

The LGBTI Anglican Coalition is appalled by the House of Bishops’ recently-issued Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage, especially in the light of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential address in which it was stated that differing views should be accepted in a spirit of ‘good disagreement’. In this document we see no acceptance of disagreement at all, but instead a heavy-handed and legalistic imposition of discipline.

This guidance is wrong in tone and content, and will further damage the Church’s mission, not only to LGBTI people, but to all people of goodwill who respect justice and truth. It may seek to carry disciplinary authority, but it has no moral authority and cannot command respect. We hope and pray that it will be swiftly withdrawn.

Press Statement [PDF].

Response to the Pilling Report

For immediate use: press release in response to the report from the House of Bishops’ working group on human sexuality (the Pilling Report)

The Coalition welcomes the publication of the Pilling Report and we appreciate that it was made public so soon.

It is good that the report recognises the diversity of theological views on this issue, including within the Evangelical wing of the Church. We are glad that the report denounces homophobia (though it is not clearly enough defined). We believe that it makes it easier for clergy to bless partnerships publicly and it calls for further discussion to try to discern where the Spirit is leading the church.

It is also good that LGB&T clergy will not face intrusive questioning though they are still asked to promise to abide by a code which would exclude most from the kind of loving and supportive relationship which others can enjoy.
We are disappointed that the Report has only mentioned rather than included transgender people in the discussion, despite submissions from transgender and LGB&T Christian organisations.

We are also disappointed that no liturgy of thanksgiving or blessing is proposed, but overall we are thankful for the working party’s effort. We trust and hope that the report may move the Church of England forward.

The Coalition and its member organisations stand ready to support the proposed facilitated conversations both in dioceses and nationally. We look forward to being fully included in all steps to help the Church of England find a way forward and we value the Pilling report as a useful contribution to the coming debate

We are also convinced that there must be a greater openness to, and a wider understanding, of the extensive range of scientific and theological work that has been, and is currently being undertaken on transgender issues and same-sex issues in addition to those relied upon within the report. We believe that what is presented there is insufficient to provide a strong and reliable foundation for the proposed conversations and we trust that these issues will be further addressed in the coming debate.

Press Release [PDF].

Write to your MP: SSM and trans* issues

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 was given Royal Assent on 17 July 2013, which means that “marriage of same sex couples is lawful”. Except that, currently, there’s no mechanism to “solemnise” them. In order for an Act of Parliament to take effect, it’s not sufficient for it to be passed and granted Royal Assent. It must be enabled, and this is done by a series of Statutory Instruments.

There are a number of areas which affect transgender people that should be of concern. Please read the article available via the link and make your views known to your Member of Parliament.

Article [PDF].

Preparing for Pilling

In December 2013, the House of Bishops will receive a report into the Church of England’s “Approach to Human Sexuality” from a group chaired by Joseph Pilling. It is understood that the report will then be discussed by the full College of Bishops in January 2014.

When the House of Bishops established the review in July 2011 it did so because it wished “To offer proposals on how the continuing discussion within the Church of England about these matters might best be shaped in the light of the listening process. Our intention is to produce a further consultation document”. The Pilling report will therefore be a report to the House of Bishops and it will then be for the House to decide, in the light of the report, what proposals and process of consultation it wishes to launch.

The LGB&T Anglican Coalition expresses its appreciation of the discussions it has already had with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and it is now understood that the outcome of these talks will be subsumed into the Pilling Report. There are already leaks about what the Pilling report may contain. See for example:
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/006294.html and clearly a period of intense discussion lies ahead. It is important that all those who wish to contribute to these matters participate in the debate.