The Bishops of the Church of England recently made an untimely and insensitive statement about civil partnerships, sex, and same gender marriages. Since issuing it the bishops have apologised for the timing, whilst not withdrawing the statement itself. A small number have gone further and dissociated themselves from their statement.
There is an earlier comment on this here on our church blog.
St Chrysostom’s Church Council recently discussed the statement. Council members felt the statement was very insensitive, and extremely unhelpful, not least to the mission of the church and our church in particular.
Several in our congregation are in civil partnerships. We will not consider them in any way different from other worshippers, nor do way say how they should or should not express their love for one another. We felt that some bishops were agreeing to such statements, while saying something very different on a personal level to LGBT people in committed relationships. This, it was felt verged on hypocrisy and certainly greatly lowered the trust we can have in what bishops say. We felt the bishops would have been better being silent on the matter.
In the circumstances the Church Council felt it appropriate to be very clear of St Chrysostom’s Church’s view on this. The churchwardens proposed the following public statement, and the Council unanimously agreed to it:
“The Church Council of St Chrysostom’s, Manchester was very disappointed to read the recently published statement from the House of Bishops following the introduction of Civil Partnerships for heterosexual couples. We have, however, been encouraged to read some of the responses to that statement and in particular that issued by Southwark Cathedral. In response the Church Council wishes to make this statement:
At St Chrysostom’s we have a long history of radical inclusion, faithful to the generous catholic tradition which we continue to share and celebrate today. Within this tradition, we wish to support and encourage couples who freely enter loving, faithful and committed relationships and who wish joyfully to celebrate their love for one another. We will continue to offer a generous pastoral and liturgical response to those who ask for the opportunity to come to church around the time of their Civil Partnership or Marriage. We wish to state clearly and unequivocally that we believe that all are loved by God regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, ability or sexuality and it is our desire and hope that St Chrysostom’s will continue to shine a light of welcome and hope for all who feel excluded by the church.”