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.

Transformation of civil partnerships to marriages

From today, many members of the Church of England, lay and ordained, will be able to convert their civil partnership to marriage. Jeremy Pemberton and Andrew Foreshaw-Cain will no longer be the only married gay priests in the Church of England – numbers of lesbian and gay clergy are known to be converting. The House of Bishops is confronted with the challenge of disciplining or ignoring or accepting the presence of same-sex married clergy across the country.

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].