Posted: 17 Apr 2014 07:24 AM PDT
In the middle of the busy days of Holy Week comes the news that Jim Cotter has died.
Jim was a poet-priest – someone for whom words were as important as breathing. He wrote prayers in which unicorns danced.
He was also I think the first out gay priest I ever met, coming to preach in St Andrews about 25 years ago. I met him too in his house in Sheffield. I know also that he spoke here in St Mary’s many years ago and must have been part of the story that has led us to be the congregation that we are.
Jim was talking about gay clergy being out and living in the open years before anyone else did. Indeed, some of the things I talk about which people still think are rather radical, Jim was talking about a generation or more before. He was a visionary and a prophet and suffered a lot in life because of it.
Many, many people will have copies of his night prayers sitting beside the bed. I used them last night and thought about how many people have so much to be grateful for because of Jim Cotter.
God be in my gut and in my feeling
God be in my bowels and in my forgiving
God be in my loins and in my swiving
God be in my lungs and in my breathing
God be in my heart and in my loving
God be in my skin and in my touching
God be in my flesh and in my yearning
God be in my blood and in my living
God be in my bones and in my dying
God be at my end and at my reviving
May he rest in peace now at last.
I well remember Father Jim Cotter, priest, poet and teacher,a gentle, loving and gracious, openly-gay advocate of openness and acceptance of the LGBT community in the Church and in the world beyond the Church. Thanks to Father Kelvin Holdsworth (SEC) for this notification of his translation.
My parishioners of Hibiscus Coast were grateful recipients of a Visit by Fr. Jim at the time of the burgeoning legislation for the decriminalisation of the practise of homosexuality in New Zealand in the 1980s., when he addressed the parish, and others from the Auckland Diocese, on the need for the Church to support the new legislation. The Bill was passed!
I remember being bombarded at that time by some of the more evangelical pastors on the Coast, trying to get me to sponsor a parish-based petition against the legislation. Needless to say – encouraged by Fr. Jim’s eirenic theological presentation for radical inclusion in the Church – we in our parish resisted this call, believing it to be the right time for decriminalisation of Gays, who have no other way of being who they are, intrinsically, and who have been unjustly treated by both Church and Society in the past.
I thank God for the life, witness and ministry of Father Jim Cotter, and am happy to commend him to the loving care and mercy of the God he believed in. Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord. May light perpetual shine upon him, may he rest in peace, and rise one day with Christ in glory. Amen!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand