Welcome to 2015
I know we’re well into January now, or it certainly feels it, but we’d like to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. A new year often carries with it new year resolutions – most of which we’ve probably given up on by now, but also a sense of a fresh start, the beginning of something new.
At Changing Attitude we’re looking forward to what 2015 could bring. As many of you may know we have the Church of England’s ‘shared conversations’ process starting this year, for some of us this induces apprehension and possibly uncomfortable feelings as to how it will be executed (for lack of a better word!) but for others it brings hope, and possibly reconciliation. It’s that hope that we need to keep sight of as we move forward together.
You’ll see above a picture of some of the present and past trustees of Changing Attitude, we all met together in Windsor last October to celebrate Colin Coward’s (Director of Changing Attitude) MBE. A huge achievement, both for him personally and also for the LGBT community within the Church of England.
Over the next few newsletters we’re going to be interviewing our trustees so you know a little bit more about us, and who exactly makes up Changing Attitude.
Changing Attitude meets with Living Out
Both Colin and Jeremy along with Tina Beardsley, recently met with members of Living Out. Living Out is an organisation set up for those who would describe themselves as same sex attracted (SSA). Members believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and they would refrain from a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender.
We discussed the up and coming shared conversations process and it seems they too held similar reservations to us in the planning of the meetings and selection process of candidates taking part. It is however important to us to meet with other organisations, of varying beliefs, we are all on the same road, even if our perceptions of the road differ.
Meeting with David Porter at Lambeth Palace
Tuesday 20th January sees the LGBT Anglican Coalition’s meeting with David Porter. David being the Director of Reconciliation is the man tasked with the job of coordinating the shared conversations process. Although there is not much to report pre-meeting, we would ask for your prayers and of course feedback any information we feel useful.
We’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has offered to join the discussion or been asked to participate. Please do get in contact via the details at the bottom of this page.
Name: Lucy Gorman
Position at Changing Attitude: The Chair – Which I rather enjoy saying in a deep authoritative voice!
Current city: That would depend on which day of the week, but typically Leeds Mon-Fri and Hull Sat-Sun.
Occupation: Advertising & Scheduling for ITV.
Denomination: Church of England, currently worshiping in the incredibly accepting All Saint’s Church in South Cave.
What made you want to get involved with Changing Attitude?
I’m very passionate about LGBT equality, not only in my own denomination but within the Church as a whole. I believe God’s love extends past all the Church’s issues of gender and sexuality, and that no one should put a stumbling block in the path of knowing that love. I think at the moment there is a stumbling block over the ‘issue’ of gender & sexuality, and I will do everything in my power to remove that.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
What’s spare time?! I thrive off being busy, but to give you an insight, I’m part of a local group in Hull we set up called LGBT Christian Fellowship. We meet every month and I help with a lot of the organisational work. I also write for Vada Magazine which is a secular LGBT magazine based in Leeds. Aside from that I’m a volunteer youth leader at my local Church. We run a youth club on a Tuesday night and a Christian based one on a Sunday night. When I’m not doing any of the above I’m usually with friends or fulfilling the ultimate gay lifestyle of curling up in bed with a glass of milk and Netflix!
Fast forward 5 years time. Where would you like the Church to be?
I think maybe the obvious answer would be to have both same sex blessings and marriages in all Churches, of all denominations. My ultimate dream is for non of these groups of charities to exist, because they’re simply not needed. I know that’s a little ambitious for five years however!
As an associate of the U.K.-based ‘Changing Attitude’, which works – mainly in the Church of England – towards the goal of the inclusion of the LGBT community in the witness and ministry of the Church, I receive their occasional news-letter, informing associates around the Anglican Communion of events and affairs affecting this issue in Church and society. Here is their New Year’s offering.
Fr. Colin Coward, Director of ‘Changing Attitude, has recently been awarded the M.B.E,, in recognition of the time and effort he has invested in forwarding the interests of the Group in the U.K. and beyond. He sees this as a tribute, not to himself only, but to the entire network of organisers of local groups within the U.K., whose hard work and dedication have enabled formal conversations with Church officials, parishes , clergy and LGBT people in the Church and the community, that have borne good fruit in so many ways.
Compared with the attitude of the GAFCON Provincial Churches in the Communion, the Church of England has long moved towards the inclusion of people who are ‘different’ in their sexual orientation. The early involvement of former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Michael Ramsey, with his eirenic insights on gender and sexuality issues was partly instrumental in the encouragement of the passage through the U.K. Parliament of the enabling ‘Wolfenden Report’, which was the first British Commonwealth legislation allowing for the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Since that time, the Church of England has accepted the integrity of clergy who are participants in Civil Partnership (same-sex) relationships – though without, as yet, acceding to the liturgical Blessing of such relationships. Part of the C. of E.’s reluctance to move further in this direction has been the relationship it shares with the more conservative Provinces of the Anglican Communion, which have officially declared their opposition to Gay Clergy.
Sadly, such Provinces, largely contained within the GAFCON (mainly African) group, have set themselves up as rivals to the rest of the Communion Provinces with the issuance of a declaration of their own understanding of Anglican Tradition: ‘The Jerusalem Statement’, wherein they articulate a new ‘orthodoxy’, based on their ‘Sola Scriptura’ interpretation of sexual ethics and behaviour – a stance no longer credible to the modern-day social and scientific understanding of the etiology of homosexuality.
The award of an M.B.E. to Fr. Colin Coward – as Director of ‘Changing Attitude’- at least should remind the Church of England of its pastoral duty to every member of the society it seeks to serve. No longer can institutional injustice be meted out to LGBT people in the Church. H.M. Queen Elizabeth (Titular Head of the Church of England) has spoken!
Congratulations to Fr. Colin, to ‘Changing Attitude’ and to all who merit this Award.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand