‘Inclusive Church’ Message – January 2016


As I see it. View from a trustee

I had a fairly ‘cosy’ piece written for this newsletter (encouraging you all to get your local churches to sign up to Inclusive Church) …and then I read the report of the Primates’ meeting!

I told Bob I couldn’t write anything because was just too angry and the amount of swearing I would include would damage I.C.’s reputation as a warm and welcoming organisation that expresses the love of Christ…
Bob told me to pull myself together and try…

So here is my very personal response to the Primates gathering.  I don’t speak for inclusive church (it’s difficult to speak for inclusive church because by our very nature we carry with us a wide diversity of opinion) I just speak for myself.

My first question is, why didn’t the Episcopal Church in America threaten to walk away if the rest of the Communion didn’t start agreeing with it?

It’s unthinkable! The other Archbishops would have been horrified at such appalling behaviour and none of them would have even considered changing their policy on marriage for the sake of unity.
It is beyond my comprehension that the Archbishops could sanction (in practice, if not in name) America while allowing Churches that condone the criminalisation of homosexuality to continue in full and equal fellowship.  History will judge this decision very harshly: the Labour shadow cabinet minister, Chris Bryant, publicly left the Church saying its stance on homosexually would one day look as wrong as supporting slavery. For years liberal and inclusive Christians have silently and sadly walked away, we need the Archbishops to hear the voice of the lost generation.

My second question is why does there have to be international agreement on Equal Marriage? We did not seek it for women priests or women bishops, we changed our liturgy and our policy on divorce without the approval of the Anglican Communion.  The Anglican Church can make up its own mind in America (or Canada or New Zealand or Scotland or England or Nigeria…)

I have decided to message the archbishop every day to ask him to resign.  This is NOT the view of Inclusive Church, it is my opinion as an individual within it.  Once again the Archbishops have asked LGBT Christians, and those who support Equal Marriage to make the sacrifice for unity, if the Archbishop was sincere in his “apology” he would share in the sacrifice and stand down.

I think we inclusive Christians have been too tentative and apologetic and gentle in our approach. The time for Anglican politeness has passed.  In love, out of a response to Christ’s limitless love, we should celebrate the love of same sex couples in our churches.  Sadly, weddings are not yet possible, but if all the churches (like mine) who offer blessings were to stand up and be counted the Archbishop would have to rethink his position, the Church of England should be sanctioned alongside our American sisters and brothers.

Trevor Donnelly Inclusive Church Trustee
The Church of the Ascension, Blackheath


From the National Coordinator

I am just back from a visit to Exeter University where I spent an evening with the MethAng Soc. We were discussing what an inclusive church might look like, using some of the stories from the Inclusive Church Book series. It was refreshing to be in a room full of students – who shared something of their experience of church. This was just one of a number of events that I have the privilege of being involved with in the early part of 2016.

I have already been to Liverpool to preach at St Mary’s Waterloo – a great congregation committed to the gospel of inclusion. Whilst I was there I popped into the Cathedral to look at the venue for our AGM and Annual Lecture in the summer (more on this elsewhere in the newsletter). Later in January we have a Partnership Day event drawing representatives from almost 20 different organisations. The event will be facilitated by Hilary Topp from the Student Christian Movement, we shall consider what it may mean to work as ‘partners’ as we seek together to build an inclusive church. In early February I will be on the road again, having been asked to preach in Banbury. In the midst of all this Inclusive Church has been considering how best to respond to the impact of the Anglican Primates’ Meeting – more of this in the newsletter.

All of this is pretty much the ‘stuff’ of Inclusive Church – it’s what we do. Getting out and about hearing stories and sharing in the experience of churches and Christian communities in different contexts. As well as that we have a responsibility to speak ‘truth to power’ – often on behalf of those who feel that they have been silenced by the church, or are so ground down by the church that they have no capacity to speak anymore. In 2016 our work is as vital as ever. Thank you for your support.

Bob Callaghan. National Coordinator

Responses to the Anglican Primates’ Meeting

Ahead of the Anglican Primates in January, Inclusive Church was supportive of the letter that was sent to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Dianna Gwilliams, Chair of Inclusive Church and Dean of Guildford was one of the signatories. The letter asked the Archbishops to take a message to the Primates Meeting “that the time has now come for acknowledgement that the Church has failed in its duty of care to LGBTI members of the Body of Christ around the world.”

The letter can still be signed on-line – go here if you would like to do this. There is an option to sign anonymously if that is helpful.

Following the meeting the trustees of Inclusive Church have issued 2 statements. One from Dianna Gwilliams, chair of Inclusive Church and one as a joint statement from Inclusive Church, Modern Church and Progressive Christianity Network.


Join statement from Inclusive Church, Modern Church and Progressive Christianity Network

In the statement following their meeting, the Primates of the Anglican Communion have expressed their profound sorrow for the deep hurt caused within the Church towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation and they affirm that God’s love for every human being is the same regardless of their sexuality.

As organisations we are committed to working with people and parishes all over the country to affirm and support the faith, life and ministry of LGBTI people. We now call for tangible signs of the sorrow expressed by the Primates for the way the communion has acted towards people on the basis of their sexuality; for an acknowledgement of those actions which give the impression that human beings are not the same; and for an unequivocal statement of repudiation of all and every inference which lead to destructive beliefs about LGBTI people.

In the light of the sorrow expressed by the Primates, we will redouble our efforts to reach out to and lift up all who are marginalised in the life of the Church because of the institutionalised homophobia which has stood between so many and the Good News of God’s love for all people. We call for such proactivity on the part of the Bishops of the Church of England in reaffirming that God’s love, call and gifting is the same for all people.

Simon Sarmiento, Secretary of Inclusive Church
Guy Elsmore, General Secretary Modern Church
Adrian Alker, Chair Progressive Christianity Network


This month’s communique from the Anglican organisation INCLUSIVE CHURCH is largely dedicated to reflection on the post Primates’ Meeting outcomes for the world-wide Anglican Communion on issues of Gender and Sexuality.

What is being questioned here is why the Anglican Churches of North America (TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada) are being disciplined for their outreach to LGBTI people; while the GAFCON Provinces are not required to publicly repent of their homophobic and sexist attitude towards the same minority in their own Churches? This hardly makes sense, especially when one considers that the objective of the recent Primtes Meeting was to try to facilitate a climate of Unity in Diversity on the viability of LGBTI people as fully members of the Body of Christ.

The ABC himself has expressed his regret and apology to LGBTI people for the way in which they have been treated by the Church in past times, but is this enough? Expressing regret for sins of the past needs to be backed up by some positive action towards the full acceptance of LGBTI people in the Church, now and into the future. Anything less must surely hinder the message of the Inclusive Gospel that Anglicans are meant to propagate in the world. Grace and Mercy to ALL people – regardless of gender, race, social class or sexual orientation – is the inviolable ethos of the Body of Christ.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand


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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