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].

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].

On “Men and Women in Marriage”

For immediate use: press statement on: “Men and Women in Marriage”, a document from the Church of England Faith and Order Commission.

The Coalition wishes to register its dismay at men “Men and Women in Marriage”, the recently published report from the Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England. Ostensibly an affirmation of what the Church of England believes about marriage, it appears, to us, to be merely an attempt to justify the Church of England’s recent submission to the government opposing same sex civil marriage. It also makes specific and derogatory references to same-sex relationships…

Press Release [PDF].

Bishops in civil partnerships

For immediate use:
LGB&T Anglican Coalition press statement on the admission of bishops in civil partnerships to the episcopate

The Coalition welcomes the House of Bishops decision, confirmed on 4 January 2013, to lift its moratorium of July 2011 on clergy in civil partnerships being nominated as episcopal candidates, even when living in conformity with the House of Bishops guidelines Issues in Human Sexuality.

The Bishops have decided that the requirements in its 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships, whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England, will apply equally in relation to the episcopate.

We had been shocked and saddened by the imposition of the moratorium, pending the outcome of the review of civil partnerships by the House of Bishops working party chaired by the Bishop of Sodor and Man. Although the lifting of the ban is only a small step it removes a glaring injustice, and was one of many recommendations in the Coalition’s submission to the Church of England working party on civil partnerships…

…We are glad that the House has addressed this particular issue, but are surprised and disappointed that this appears to be the only outcome, even though the review was expected to be complete by the end of 2012. We look forward to seeing the full report

Press Statement [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].

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].

The appointment of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury was announced at Lambeth Palace of the Right Reverend Justin Welby, today.

Coalition welcomes appointment of Justin Welby as archbishop

The Coalition welcomes the appointment of Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. In his press conference last Friday he said this about sexuality:

“We also face deep differences over the issue of sexuality. It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people co-habiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships. We must have no truck with any form of homophobia, in any part of the church. The Church of England is part of the worldwide church, with all the responsibilities that come from those links. What the church does here deeply affects the already greatly suffering churches in places like northern Nigeria, which I know well. I support the House of Bishops’ statement in the summer in answer to the government’s consultation on same sex marriage. I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully. I am always averse to the language of exclusion, when what we are called to is to love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us. Above all in the church we need to create safe spaces for these issues to be discussed honestly and in love.”

We are grateful for Bishop Justin’s openness. We appreciate his commitment to engage in listening to LGB&T communities and to challenge homophobia throughout the church. We look forward to dialogue with him as he seeks the way forward for mission and ministry in the Church of England.

Press Release [PDF].