Benny’s Blog – on the Southwark Process

Even straight Christians such as myself, have been told that we are unfit for ministry and are wrecking God’s Church– just because we are advocating the acceptance of same-sex relationships in the church.  Once at General Synod, an Anglican Church leader who really ought to know better, implied to me in public that I should be careful about my salvation (a thinly veiled threat if ever I heard one) and should remember the reality of hell.
If I, a mere nobody in the structures of the Church of England, can be on the receiving end of such pressure, what must it be like for Archbishops whose private views are so at odds with the repressive policies they feel they have to uphold.
And there is the heart of the issue.  As a church, we have allowed homophobic bullying to become part of our institution – and allowed that institutional homophobia to corrode our leaders, our policies, our public statements, and our private decisions.
In the same way that the Steven Laurence enquiry came to the land-mark conclusion that the police were ‘institutionally racist’, so any independent enquiry into the Church of England would conclude that we are ‘institutionally homophobic’, and Colin Slee’s account of those 2 days last year proves it.
We have allowed the voice of institutional homophobia in the church to turn good people and gifted leaders into bad tempered bullies, desperate to defend the status quo, whatever that takes.
It reminds me of a quote which I came across last year when I was doing some research before a speaking engagement.  It said,
“Considering all the evil that exists in the world, the fact that all of religion’s condemnation is focused on expressing disapproval of two people loving each other proves just how evil religion is.”   
Until we make a determined decision to be less ‘religious’ and more Christian – to be less concerned with upholding our corrupted institutions, and more concerned with following Jesus Christ, we will continue to allow our church to act like a bad tempered bully instead of embodying the loving God who sent his Son so to bring us life in all its fullness.

It is time for change. – The Revd. Benny Hazlehurst, ‘Accepting Evangelicals

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This extract from ‘Benny’s Blog’ reveals the degree of discomfort felt by a member of the U.K. sodality ‘Accepting Evangelicals’ at the recent actions of the two Provincial Archbishops of the Church of England in vetoing the election of Dean Jeffrey John and Father Nich Holtam at the CNC meeting to elect the new Bishop of Southwark.

The general uneasiness with which many clergy in the Church of England have received news of the goings-on at the electoral conference gives evidence of future problems for the Church of England in the acceptance of the status quo of the back-room shenanigans associated with episcopal elections. Perhaps the outcry will help to modify the perceived influence of the conservative minority within the Church who seem to have such a powerful hold over both Archbishops – despite their commitment to ‘equal opportunity’ of advancement within the Church’s hierarchy.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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