A Father’s Reflection on his daughter’s Same-Sex Relationship

As I see it…. View from a Trustee of ‘Inclusive Church’
My daughter’s wedding

I love my children; I am as proud of them as any father could be.  My eldest daughter is studying medicine in Birmingham University and her relationship with her girlfriend has reached the semi-joking-conversations-about-getting-married stage.  As the child of two Priests she was curious about what the Church could do on her wedding day.

To my shame I could not offer a church wedding.  If I was to follow the guidelines of the Church of England I could not even offer her a blessing.  (If she bought her first car – I could bless that; if she wanted to go fox hunting – I could bless the hounds; if she designed nuclear missiles – I could bless them; but (according the Church) her life-giving and life-affirming relationship to the marvellous young woman she loves should go unblessed!)

I would not deserve to be called her ‘father’ if I would not break the rules to bless her love in my Church.  So of course I offered her a blessing.  I defy any bishop to look me in the eye and say I should not.
But then I got thinking, if I wouldn’t deserve to be called my daughter’s ‘father’ if I wouldn’t bless her, what does that mean for my parishioners, some of whom also call me ‘father’ (admittedly usually with irony – we are not very ‘high’ church)?

I share the ‘cure of souls’ with my bishops, but the bishops have spectacularly failed to support LGBT Christians.  As a Vicar I am called to show similar support, love and compassion for my parishioners as I do for my biological children.  We must ask the question: ‘Is there a pastoral, moral and Godly imperative to bless loving, faithful and committed gay and lesbian couples?’

I think the answer is obvious.
But we may already be too late.

Returning to my daughter, feeling brave and heroic, willing to disobey the rules of the church in order to do the right thing, I suggested that she got married in a registry office then came to church for a blessing.
With a sad and slightly pitying smile my daughter said “no thanks dad, on one of the most important days of our lives, I don’t think we want anything to remind us that the church doesn’t fully accept us.”
We are losing a generation.  Not just the LGBT members of the generation, but all those of good conscience who see the Church’s problem with sexuality as pure prejudice.
The truth is that the Church needs to bless my daughter’s relationship more than my daughter and her girlfriend need the Church’s blessing.

If the Church wants a role as the nation’s moral compass it needs to act like a moral compass and “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before our God.” (Micah 6.8)
Trevor Donnelly
The Church of the Ascension, Blackheath

Trustee of Inclusive Church

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Father Trevor Donnelly, Church of England parish priest, and Trustee of ‘Inclusive Church‘, offers this stunning reflection on the reaction of our young LGBTI people to the continuing reluctance of the Church to bless their faithful, monogamous, Same-Sex partnerships.

Trevor’s daughter, who just wants to get on with the business of legalising her relationship with her chosen partner – a mark of stability in a world of increasing reluctance on the part of our young to form permanent, faithful relationships with one other person – now realises that the Church in which she was nurtured (and in which her parents serve as ordained clergy) is still not convinced that God would bless her and her beloved, in their intent to remain faithful to one another for their lifetime.

I guess that, until one or more bishops in the Church find their children in a similar situation, and have to refuse the blessing of the church on their relationship, there will remain this obstacle to affirmation by the Church of stable same-sex relationships, that could be a sign to heterosexual couples of the possibility of permanence in marriage.

I commend Trevor Donnelly and his clergy wife for bringing this situation to the attention of people in the Church of England who are against the Church’s involvement in blessing monogamous same-sex relationships – especially when the moral equivalent is to accept the fact that gay people – like straight people – might be more inclined to co-habit without the blessing of the Church.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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South American Primate Affirms Schismatic S.C. Diocese

“We are with you,” says Bishop Zavala; Meetings May 20 PDF Print E-mail
Written by SCDiosAdministrator
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 15:45
Bishops Lawrence and ZavalaBishop Tito Zavala, Presiding Bishop of South America, was with us at Diocesan Council today, May 19, 2015.

“We are here to know you, to be with you, to say with our presence that we, in the Global South, are with you and want to do the best we can for you so you can continue being part of the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop Zavala.

Don’t miss the chance to meet with him tomorrow, May 20, 2015. He’ll be at St. Matthias, Summerton, from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and at the Cathedral, Charleston, from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  Read more about and register for the meetings below.

The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Bishop of Chile and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of South America, comprising the countries of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, who serves as the Diocese of South Carolina’s liaison to the Global South Primates Steering Committee, will be holding two meetings with the Bishop, clergy and parishioners in the Diocese of South Carolina May 20, 2015. One will be held at St. Matthias in Summerton from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and the other will be at the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston, from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

As one of 40 primates of the 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, Bishop Zavala will be in South Carolina specifically to encourage and support fellow Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, and the clergy and lay people of the Diocese of South Carolina.

“We’re grateful for the strong support we’ve received from Anglicans around the world and are especially thankful for this time we’ll have with Bishop Zavala,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina.  “The Global South Primates have assured us of their prayers and their stand with us.”
Though the visits are open, attendees are asked to pre-register,

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I wonder whether – among “the Anglicans around the world” envisaged by Bishop Zavala – will include anyone from our ACANZP) who might present themselves at the upcoming talks between this South American Bishop of the Gafcon provenance and the bishop of the schismatic former TEC diocese of South Carolina, convened to shore up relationships between Gafcon and the S.C. diocese and its Bishop, Mark Lawrence.

Here is the agenda, published on the web-site of Bishop Mark Lawrence:

“As one of 40 primates of the 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, Bishop Zavala will be in South Carolina specifically to encourage and support fellow Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, and the clergy and lay people of the Diocese of South Carolina.

After all, at the recent meeting of a Gafcon sub-group in Australia recently, there were no less than 40 current members of our Church (ACANZP) – including at least one bishop – to show solidarity with Gafcon’s separatist ambition to wrest the leadership of the Anglican Communion from its traditional moorings (Lambeth, ACC Primates, the ABC).

Whatever the agenda of Bishop Zavala – in accentuating his personal support for schism in the Communion – one hopes that this will never be the intention of members of our own Church, here in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and Polynesia.

However, for the schismatic Diocese of Southern Carolina and its Bishop to claim relationship to the Anglican Communion through the membership of a foreign Gafcon Province (South America) of the Communion – which sodality has already distanced itself from the rest of us by the assertion of its very own ‘Jerusalem Statement’ (in preference to that of the agreed ‘Lambeth Quadrilateral’) – would seem to challenge further the koinonia fellowship of the world-wide Anglican Communion. 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Church of Scotland’s Historic Vote for Partnered Same-Sex Clergy

Church of Scotland plan for gay ministers offers possible ‘template’ for Anglicans

Church of England liberals hail Scottish ‘opt-out’ idea as possible breakthrough for divisions over homosexuality

General Assembly of The Church of Scotland

General Assembly of The Church of Scotland Photo: Andrew O’Brien

Under plans agreed by the General Assembly, which is meeting in Edinburgh, congregations will be able to invite people in civil partnerships to become their minister without formally changing the Church of Scotland’s traditional teaching on sexuality and marriage.

Instead, those congregations will be able to “opt out” of that aspect of the Church’s teaching.

The outgoing Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Very Rev John Chalmers

The Assembly will discuss whether a similar approach could be applied for same-sex marriage as civil partnerships later this week.

South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.

The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”

The Church of England has begun a process of “facilitated conversations” on the issue of sexuality following a call by the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby to find a model of “mutual flourishing” for both sides rather than a vague compromise.

The Rev Sally Hitchiner

The Rev Sally Hitchiner, an Anglican priest and founder of “Diverse Church”, a group for young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians, said the Church of England should “look carefully” at the Scottish arrangements.

“It sounds very similar to the Church of England’s policy on remarriage of divorcees and I think that works very well and actually I think that protects conservatives,” she said.

“In the conservative wing of the Church of England people genuinely are concerned that in 10 or 20 years they won’t be able to hold those views.

“If we can find a model like the Church of Scotland I think it could protect conservatives within the church while still allowing those of us who want to marry people of the same sex and indeed be married ourselves we should do so.”

Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain (right) and Stephen Foreshew-Cain married last year

Canon Rosie Harper a prominent liberal cleric added: “This is a very interesting thing which at least makes what they doing overt rather than smoke and mirrors like it is in England.”

The Rev Andrew Foreshew-Cain, one of the first Church of England priests to enter a same-sex marriage, tweeted: “I am deeply glad that the Church of Scotland has followed where the Spirit of God is leading.”

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“South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.”

This statement from the above article in The Telegraph proclaims the not-so-subtle difference between the current situation in the Church of England, and that now embraced by the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. The point at issue here is not the fact that clergy may be participants in Same-Sex legal relationships, but that, in the Church of England, at present, such clergy are expected to remain celibate, i.e. ‘non-sexual’.

The Church of Scotland maintains no such sexual taboo, which calls into question the place of the Church of England in clergy bedrooms.

However, it appears that the Church of Scotland is allowing parishes to opt-out of accepting a clergy-person on the basis of their partnered same-sex status. This allows a conscientious objection in a particular situation where a parish is united in opposition to clerical same-sex partnerships.

At this stage in the arguments about same-sex relationships among the clergy, at least the Church of Scotland is being honest about what same-sex partnerships may involve in the way of personal intimacy. In other words, it is not legislating for celibate clergy – an argument that still obtains in the Church of England for civilly-partnered clergy!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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++Rowan Preaches Ascension-tide Sermon at The Abbey

The Bishops of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich and of Hertford were consecrated at Westminster Abbey on Ascension Day. Rowan Williams preached the sermon.

ascension

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Thanks to ‘Thinking Anglicans’ web-site for this delightful Ascension Day Sermon by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, on the occasion of the Episcopal Ordination of 2 new bishops in the Church of England.

Addressing the episcopal candidates, he reminded them that they – and all Christians – are called to be Good News, in our representation of the Christ who calls us to minister in His Name. However, being human, we are only conduits of the Good News – who is Jesus Christ himself. 

Rowan’s reflection that even bishops can sometimes be Bad News, rather than Good News, in the way we interpret what the Gospel means in the different circumstances we meet along the road, reminded me – and no doubt all of his listeners in the Abbey on this occasion – that he recognises that some of his own ministry has sometimes been hampered by the Bad News of mistakes made. However, with confession of our weaknesses, and the determination to try to ‘do better’ – acknowledging our total dependence on the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right way – we may rely on God to bring us back into line with the Gospel.

This was a very heartening address, which no doubt the new bishops will take seriously to heart as they launch out into the deep waters of leadership in the Church of England. May God richly bless them in their future ministry.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch New Zealand 

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Conditions for Baptism of S/S Couples’ Children

Would You Baptize the Adopted Child of a Same Sex Couple?

Question: “Would you baptize the adopted child of a same-sex couple?”

Answer: Sure. Of course before the baptism the couple would need to assure me that they are able to raise the child to know and love Jesus and to be his disciple. And that would mean that they would need to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and that would mean separating from one another, living celibate lives, and affirming the truthfulness of the entirety of scripture. Apart from any of these things, baptizing the child would actually do both the couple and the child great harm by granting a veneer of Christian legitimacy to their union. That would be hateful and destructive since it would affirm a sin that scripture says leads the unrepentant away from the kingdom of God.

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http://elink.azuresend.com/l/c78892e6487a44a4abfbad9dab6b30de9721BD55/15/

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The first section of this post shows the attitude of The Revd. Matt. Kennedy, a former TEC priest, but now part of the ACNA breakaway church in the United States of America. In his response to the question of whether or not he would baptize the child of a Same-Sex couple, Mr. Kennedy demands that the adoptive parents separate from one another, thereby demolishing the very family into which the child has been legally accepted for nurture. One wonders whether this is what Jesus would have done in the same circumstances? I leave readers to evaluate the theology of this response – in the light of Jesus’ call to ALL people to receive baptism.

In the second space, I have given the link to a more hopeful scenario of a ceremony in the TEC (Episcopal) Church of Holy Trinity, Wall Street, New York, wherein the whole congregation welcomes their new chief pastor, and celebrates the Festival of The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ in a Solemn Sung Eucharist, presided over by the Episcopal Bishop of New York – in the presence of Presiding Bishop of TEC, The Most Reverend Katherine Jefferts-Schori, and the Archbishop of Southern Africa, The Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba.

It is worth taking time to watch the video of this service, to hear the splendid sermon and to witness the Anglo-Catholic Liturgy accompanied by a first-call Choir. A demonstration of The Episcopal Church at its very best!

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Ascensiontide – 2015 – A Reflection

An ASCENSION REFLECTION –  SMAA Christchurch – 17 May 2015 –  (Father Ron Smith)

St John’s Gospel tells us that, in the Upper Room on Resurrection Day, Jesus had virtually ordained the male disciples for their mission, when he called down the Holy Spirit upon them. With these words: “As the Father sent me, so I send you”. He then breathed on them, saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit, for those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven; and for those whose sins you retain they are retained” – words which later came to be incorporated into a sacrament of Ordination to the Priesthood.

However, he was later to tell them to wait in Jerusalem, for what the Father had promised. “It is”, he said, “what you heard me speak about. John baptized with water, but you – not many days from now – will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”. So, we might ask, if Jesus had already called down the power of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, in his first appearance to them in the upper Room on the Day of his Resurrection; what was he speaking about when he told them they would need to wait for the Spirit’s Baptism, to come upon them from on high? Well, we do know that the word Baptism refers, in Christian terms, to the ritual dying and rising of a person with Christ that occurs in our Baptism at the Font. If we are baptised as children, we are then later offered the opportunity to undertake the rite of Confirmation by a Bishop, wherein we, as thinking adults, can actually affirm the gift of the Spirit already given to us in our baptism – thus stirring up and appropriating for ourselves what we call the gift of faith. This might be called – in accordance with certain references in the Scriptures – our opportunity to be ‘Baptised in the Holy Spirit”

Maybe, then, from that example, we could understand better the situation of the Disciples of Jesus, having received the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room on Easter Day, still needed that gift to be fully activated on the Day of Pentecost, when, as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit would be poured out in power on those assembled in Jerusalem for the Jewish Feast that would follow 10 days after his Ascension. We only have to read the Gospels to understand the importance of the Ascension of Jesus to the Father. He had to leave them before the Holy Spirit could be fully released in resurrection power, not only on the disciples, but also upon the assembled Christians in Jerusalem. “I am going to the Father, he told them; because if I do not go the Spirit cannot come to you. But when he comes, he will lead you into all the truth – about Me, about sin and about what righteousness really is” This was to be their Baptism in the Holy Spirit

In what we now call the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, he then addresses the Father in these words: “Holy Father, keep those you have given to me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. While I was with them, I kept them true to your name… But now I am coming to you, and while still in the world I say these things to share my joy with them to the full”. And then he asked the Father to protect them from the Evil One. “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself, so that they, too, may be consecrated in truth” In the liturgy of the Church, then, we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus – not as a final farewell to his influence in the world he came to redeem, but rather as the completion of his earthly ministry, and the beginning of that mission which He was to inaugurate among the Apostles and those who would come to faith in him through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on them at the Feast of Pentecost.

That pouring out of the Holy Spirit – begun on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, has been continued ever since in the Baptismal ritual of the Church. The Spirit within has been stirred into effectiveness for mission in the ritual of our confirmation; but how many of us are really aware of the consequences of that gifting we have all received? It has been bestowed on all of us who have been baptised into Christ, but we all have to appropriate it and spend it in our loving and nurturing of other people with whom we are brought into contact in our lives. We are told in the gospels that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – not the freedom to please ourselves only, but to please the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ – from whom we receive empowerment in our reception of the Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Jesus, to better become, day by day, the perfect Image and likeness of the God by Whom we have been created.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful; re-kindle within us the fire of your love, through the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God has gone up with a merry noise, Alleluia! He has gone up with the Sound of the Trumpet, Alleluia, Alleluia!

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A New Jerusalem Statement – Towards Anglican Unity in Mission

Link Bishops commit to partnership in the

Gospel

last updated on: 5th May 2015

Link Bishops commit to partnership in the Gospel

Anglican Links Bishops commit to developing partnership in the Gospel

Between April 27th and May 3rd 2015 the Bishops of Kiteto, Leicester,

Mount Kilimanjaro, Trichy and Wyoming and clerical colleagues have

been meeting in Jerusalem looking to develop further the existing links.

In so doing the bishops are consciously seeking to model difference

without division within the Anglican Communion. The bishops are

committed to work and witness together and refuse to allow

(potentially distracting) differences to eclipse their primary

unity of faith in Jesus Christ and their common mission and

ministry in His Holy name. Further to the conversations the

five bishops agreed a number of

affirmations, commitments and resolutions which can be found here.

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A very different ‘Jerusalem Statement’; deriving from a Jerusalem

Meeting of Anglican Mission Partners in the Gospel who are not seeking

division – on grounds of cultural difference – but rather intent on an

‘indaba’-type ongoing seeking for mutual flourishing in an Anglican

Communion willing to acknowledge the congruent mission of Jesus

Christ in different contexts.

How refreshing this is, and how different from the Gafcon-style

confrontational attempt to undermine the Gospel initiatives of

other Provinces that seek to set people free from their institutional

prejudices and tendencies to reinforce injustice on gender & sexuality

issues!

Here is a small but very welcome instance of  across-the-gaps

co-operation between parts of the Church, which, despite their

vastly different contexts, are determined to foster communal

interest in furthering the work of the gospel, on the basis of a

willingness to dialogue, to listen to one another, and to learn

from one another.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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