About us

The LGBTI Mission has come together to work towards the full acceptance and affirmation of LGBTI people within the life of the Church of England.  Over the next five years we will do everything we can to remove the barriers to full participation by LGBTI people. We will bring together organisations, allies and friends including LGBTI faith groups.

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LGBTI Mission calls on Church of England to move forward following completion of Shared Conversations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The LGBTI Mission rejoices that almost all General Synod members were willing and able to engage in conversation and listening about human sexuality. We commend David Porter and his team for their excellent work in bringing this about. It is also clear that very many throughout the Church of England want to see change soon, as a priority for mission.

We call on the House of Bishops to bring forward bold proposals that enable the Church of England to move towards LGBTI equality, of course with proper safeguards for those who cannot, in conscience, accept any such changes.

Same-sex marriage is only one item on the table. There are other important issues, which could be resolved sooner and more easily. Some do not need synodical approval. We urge the bishops to review urgently all the areas listed in our LGBTI Mission launch document.

We also ask bishops to consult fully with their own LGBTI laity and clergy who are directly and personally affected by current discriminatory policies.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to co-ordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.”

Two specific examples of other urgent issues are:

  • There is a Blackburn Diocesan Synod Motion awaiting General Synod debate, which asks the Church to improve its welcome to Transgender people and for the House of Bishops to recommend suitable rites and prayers to mark their transition journeys. Debate on this was recently deferred a second time. We urge the bishops to endorse that motion and to ensure it is debated without further delay.
  • An issue not requiring synodical action is the current ban on clergy entering same-sex civil marriage, contained in paragraph 27 of the House’s February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The widely inconsistent application of this has brought the Church into serious disrepute. It must be reconsidered urgently.

Media reports suggest the bishops may revive the 2013 Pilling Report recommendation to allow clergy who wish to do so to “mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service” but only as a “pastoral accommodation” without authorizing any formal liturgy. This would be welcome as an interim step towards the long-term goal of enabling same-sex marriages in the Church of England. But the addition of approved liturgical forms would improve clarity and give clergy protection against unwanted disciplinary complaints.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

For further information contact Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission
07906 445695

More detail on the LGBTI Mission campaign group is available at https://lgbtimission.org.uk

The full LGBTI Mission programme Loving, Living, Serving, can be downloaded directly from https://lgbtimissiondotorgdotuk.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/lgbti-mission-final1.pdf

The Blackburn Diocesan Synod motion is as follows:

WELCOMING TRANSGENDER PEOPLE

…to move on behalf of the Blackburn Diocesan Synod:

‘That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.’

The February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage is available at https://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2014/02/house-of-bishops-pastoral-guidance-on-same-sex-marriage.aspx

The Pilling Report is available at https://www.churchofengland.org/media/1891063/pilling_report_gs_1929_web.pdf
(see Recommendations 16 and 17 on page 118)

 

Christians called to accept same-sex relationships

LGBTI Mission, the recently formed Church of England campaign organisation, welcomes a new book, Amazing Love, published by Darton, Longman and Todd. This is the first fruit of the programme we launched in February.  A working group met in Cambridge last January to plan this book, which has been edited by Dr Andrew Davison, Starbridge Lecturer in Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

The book shows that there is a clear theological rationale for Christians to accept committed same-sex relationships. It is aimed at readers who may not have any formal theological training.

It does not take a specific view about how the Church should respond to same-sex marriage and thus it is hoped it will win over many of those who are not already irrevocably opposed to same-sex relationships.

Publication is timed to make the book available for the forthcoming sexuality conversations being held at the Church of England’s General Synod in York (10 to 12 July) but it should interest Christians of all denominations in Britain, and is ideal for use in discussion groups by local churches.

Copies are being sent this week to all members of the General Synod, thanks to grants made by three of LBGTI Mission’s partners: Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church, and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.

The formal launch of the book will be at a reception in the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster on 29 June.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said:  “Recent events highlight the timeliness of this book.  Christians need to consider urgently whether the traditional conservative attitude towards same-sex relationships is still a sustainable view in today’s world. This book shows that it is possible to disagree.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

For more detailed information about the book, see the Darton, Longman and Todd website at http://www.darton-longman-todd.co.uk/titles/2181-9780232532654-amazing-love

For more information about the LGBTI Mission, see its website http://lgbtimission.org.uk

The Church and the massacre in Orlando

The following letter, signed by three members of the LGBTI Mission steering group, appeared in the Church Times on Friday 17 June.

From Ms Tracey Byrne, Mr Simon Sarmiento, and Mr Jeremy Timm
Sir, — The events in Orlando in the early hours of Sunday morning have once more left the world shocked and appalled. But the Church of England’s official responses have disappointed and dismayed many, both inside and outside the Church.

This was an attack that deliberately targeted gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. And it took place in a country whose Anglicans have recently been criticised by the Primates of the Communion for moving towards greater inclusion for LGBT people. Church leaders can no longer continue to denounce violence — and yet continue to feed it.

Every time we speak — individually or institutionally — of LGBT people as “less than” their brothers and sisters in Christ, as “less than” God’s ideal, as unfit for licensing for public ministry; every time we fail to acknowledge that the people who died in Orlando were targeted because of whom they love, we contribute, in imperceptible but, nevertheless, powerful ways, to creating the kind of world where this hatred can flourish. We do LGBT people a grave disservice, and we do the gospel a grave disservice, too.

We have worked hard to keep faith with the soon-to-be-completed Shared Conversations, but we now need something more substantial. There is an urgent need to restore the trust that has been eroded during the Shared Conversations process, and to establish a permanent mechanism that enables church leaders and central church bodies to listen and to work together with LGBT church members of all convictions. That way we can bring our insights to the Church as it seeks transformation and reconciliation and healing, and we will become part of the solution rather than the unsolved problem.

With such an arrangement in place, and with robust and trusting personal relationships, perhaps we would not have seen an official “Prayer for Orlando” which whitewashed over the victims, failing even to mention that they were killed for being LGBT, nor a day’s delay in issuing a response from the Archbishops which corrected this omission.

There can be no misunderstanding that this is the context in which the final round of Shared Conversations will take place in a few weeks’ time; the stakes, for everyone, could not possibly be higher.

TRACEY BYRNE
Chief Executive, Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement

SIMON SARMIENTO
Chair, LGBTI Mission

JEREMY TIMM
National Coordinator, Changing Attitude

c/o LGCM, South Church House
25 Market Place
Newark NG25 1EA

Church in Wales apologises and publishes prayers

LGBTI Mission has noted the pastoral letter and the authorised prayers published by the bishops of the Church in Wales, which are linked from this press release:
Same-sex marriage statement

The texts are also available here.

While we realise this has caused disappointment to many in Wales who hoped for more, we see it as a hopeful sign for the Church of England that the Welsh bishops have written directly to LGBT Christians to apologise to them. We also think that the prayers which have been authorised, imperfect though they may be, constitute a positive development.

We hope our leaders in the Church of England will take careful note of what the Welsh bishops have done, and regard this as an encouragement to take similar steps forward, following the completion of the Shared Conversations programme in July.

 

Liverpool diocese notes our launch

We were pleasantly surprised when this announcement appeared on the Diocese of Liverpool website:

Statement on the LGBTI Mission

Rt Revd Paul Bayes, Bishop of Liverpool, responds to new campaign group ‘working towards acceptance and affirmation of LGBTI people within the Church of England.’

“We are in the middle of a conversation in the Church of England about the best way to express the freely-given grace and love of God to all, and in particular at this time to discern what that means for members of the LGBTI community, including those who wish to express their own love in marriage, as it is their perfect legal right in England to do.

This is an important conversation and one that arouses passion, pain, sensitivity and hurt. I am very grateful for the contribution of the LGBTI Mission document to this conversation.

The document speaks strongly and clearly and I believe we all need to hear its voice. There is nothing to fear in doing so. Over and over again the Church has insisted on the need to listen to the experiences of the LGBTI community. For myself I have sought to do so for at least the last thirty years, and I believe that have learned a great deal about God’s love, patience and grace as I have listened to LGBTI people inside and outside the Church. Theirs is a strong and necessary voice, though of course it is not the only voice.

Within the Church at the moment we are engaged in listening to all voices through our Shared Conversations. I am glad to be taking part in these conversations. I remain committed to the process of listening that the Conversations are holding, and of course this process has not yet ended. In July the General Synod in its turn will engage in these conversations and I look forward to being part of that.

In all this I am seeking to listen most of all to the voice of the Spirit, expressed through Scripture and through the many and diverse voices of the Church. I remain convinced that this process of patient listening, slow and frustrating as it may seem to some, is the best way to discern the will of God for us all.”

 Thank you, Bishop Paul Bayes!

A response to Andrew Symes

We were unsurprised that Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream disagreed profoundly with our recently published document, in his blog article published on 9 February 2016. http://anglicanmainstream.org/lgbti-mission-a-vision-of-the-future-c-of-e/ But we are disappointed that he has badly misrepresented our position.

He claims that we regard those who disagree with equal marriage as ‘”homophobic”, inherently in the way of progress, and so ultimately not welcome.’ This is neither stated nor implied anywhere in our document.

He also claims that our plan to “raise concerns in Westminster about the reach and scope of the current religious exemptions in civil law” is a threat with regard to same-sex marriage. In fact this reference is in our Serving cluster of priorities where it relates specifically, and only, to earlier employment law exemptions now embodied in the Equality Act 2010.

Our position on equal marriage is clearly stated in our Loving cluster where we support: “legislation that will enable those clergy who want to celebrate same-sex marriages to be able to do so, while protecting the legal rights of clergy who are conscientiously opposed.”

More generally we seek “an acceptance of a difference of views on human sexuality and gender variance and an end to insistence that there is only one acceptable view.”

Daily Telegraph reports launch of LGBTI Mission

John Bingham reported on our launch in this Telegraph article:

Gender transition services and same-sex weddings call for Church of England

His report quoted Simon Sarmiento:

Simon Sarmiento, chair of the LGBTI Mission, said: “Now is the time for the Church of England to practise what it preaches and show love towards its LGBTI neighbours.

“We’ve seen the Church make huge strides towards equality in recent years, most notably through the 2014 legislation enabling women to become bishops, and it’s now essential that LGBTI equality is similarly cemented in our institution.

“We know that this is what most people in the Church of England want.

“We believe that each of the asks we’ve outlined is achievable and, frankly, essential.”

And he quoted Bishop Alan Wilson:

The new campaign group’s aims will be fiercely opposed by conservative Anglicans who believe that any endorsement of “homosexual practice” goes against the teaching of the Bible.

But Bishop Wilson said: “Lots of people are going around saying sorry, it’s great fun saying sorry – but what has actually changed?

“The LGBTI Anglicans say we can’t carry on as we have done – you can’t say ‘can we carry on having blacks-only beaches’ if you say you want to dismantle apartheid.

“Repentance is about change of mind and renewal.

“There is plenty of evidence of a change of mind, there is a genuine wanting to move on but if you want to move on you have to go somewhere different to where you are now.”

He added: “In a lot of this I don’t think the Church has to change its doctrine of marriage – it just has to apply it to same-sex couples.”