RADICAL INCLUSION .UK

 

please do not erase our lives, our love, and precious parts of who we are

 

 
 

 

'Life shrinks or expands, in proportion to one's courage'

 

AFFIRMING THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

 

 

 

It is easy for people to misinterpret the call for change, and the championing of conscience and radical inclusion, as an attack on the Church of England, and hatred of what it stands for. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My concern is for the flourishing of gay and lesbian people in our communities - yes. But my concern is also for the Church I have belonged to all through my life. I look at this Church - this network of thousands of churches serving communities all across the land - and I see countless groups of people, motivated by faith, opening their hearts to the love of God, responding with compassion to neighbours, to the sick, to the disadvantaged, and to strangers.

Through history the Church of England has developed in a distinctive way - watched over by the grace of God, I believe - not as a rigid protestant or puritan sect, but managing to accommodate difference and diversity of belief. What we have inherited is a 'Broad Church' where catholic, evangelical, liberal, charismatic, social, modern, rural, urban Christians all contribute insights and expressions, and co-exist in a way which, yes, has its tensions, but ministers to people with diverse temperaments, culture and ways they may open to God. Our difference has made us fall back on the grace of God. This is the nature of our Church. To co-exist, we depend on grace and love and forbearance, not doctrinal rigidity.

A major question for all groups is: are we mature enough to handle that, and to accommodate each other's differences, and still think well of each other, and pray for each other's lives?

I'm really proud of the Church of England. In my preparatory work for launching this survey, I researched 1000 churches, and their priests, and websites, and local ministry. Visiting so many websites and facebook pages, it was a profoundly moving experience, reading so many accounts of selfless local service and community building - and the photos of communities coming together. It was hard not to be touched, and feel grateful, for all the people living out their faith in that largest and central part of the Church of England: its local churches and all their front-line work and commitment - lives committed to doing good, and helping others, and rooted in the life, the faith, and the sacraments of the Church.

So I affirm the Church of England, and the devotion and self-sacrifice of its priests, and the bishops I have corresponded with and come to recognise as sincere, kindly, conscientious, concerned. In the call for conscience to be respected, I hope I am calling on an abiding grace that has operated in other differences through the Church's history. Conscience is a really important principle in the Church of England. To dominate differing consciences, and try to impose uniformity: that is the way towards a narrow protestant sect. It is salutary to observe the way the membership of the Church instinctively rejected the 'Anglican Covenant' which was trying to do just that.

In all these diverse traditions in the Church I have encountered people with deep faith in Christ and love of God, and lives devoted to service of others... to the communities we are called in the Church of England to serve in this nation, in all their needs. In all these traditions: we are Church.

We need grace and love in Jesus Christ. Grace to respect one another's consciences and differences. And prayer for one another's flourishing.

I appeal to the bishops to understand and recognise the importance of respecting conscience, as an historic and fundamental characteristic of our Church. And I urge them to allow church communities to act according to conscience on issues of sexuality in our local churches. In addition, I appeal to local priests, who would bless gay relationships if the Church allowed, not to abandon things that are right, or consign them to the shadows, but to act on conscience with the support of their communities, to radically include, to live out and put into practice what they and their church communities believe, because it's just, and it's the right thing to do.

We need to affirm all that's best in the Church of England. And because of that, we need to resolve a situation that has been sapping Church life for far too long. We need to recognise the kind of Church we are, and allow diverse points of view, and make conscientious difference in Church possible... to allow conscience to be set free, in local expressions of faith and service, so that communities can each express the best of who they are.

 

 

 

Two parallel sites have been created:

radicalinclusion.uk - the site you are visiting right now - is the 'quick read' version if you are in a hurry

radicalinclusion.co.uk is the in-depth site for reading more deeply on any section and to reflect further

 

~ click on any of the links below for more detailed versions of the pages available here in quick-read form:

Home - Radical Inclusion Project A - The Survey Questions - What Inclusion Means - The Harm Being Done - If Nothing Changes After LLF -

Oppressive Assault on Conscience - Top Down Control of the Agenda - Reasons for No Change - Change at Local Church Level -

Radical Inclusion Project B - Affirming the Church of England - Respect for Conscience - Rectors and Vicars Being Surveyed - Links - Lizzie Lowe