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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Bishop condemns GAFCON UK hitlist

From the Salisbury diocesan website

Letter to the Church Times, November 2016

Bishop Nicholas had the following letter published in the Church Times of 18 November 2016, in response to the GAFCON statement of 13 November.

From the Bishop of Salisbury

Sir, — The GAFCON Statement of 13 November about Lambeth I.10 is outrageous.

First, “Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are. . .” When Jesus attacked people he thought were in error, there is not a single instance when he named an individual. To name individuals in this statement is wrong, creates a climate of fear, and opens them to personal abuse.

Second, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” There is a great deal of inaccuracy in the GAFCON statement. The priest named from this diocese is not licensed, as they say he is. He has carried the cost of conscience personally. The blessing of Gay Pride in Salisbury was a joyful celebration of a people who are part of our community and among the rich diversity of all God’s children. This is in keeping with Lambeth I.10, which calls us “to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.”

Third, “Love your enemies.” GAFCON may think that the people named represent a serious error, but the way in which they are misrepresented is not the way for followers of Jesus, who usually want to represent opponents truthfully and see the best possible motives in others, not the worst.

Fifth*, “Do as you would be done by.” Lambeth I.10 also contained statements about the way Provinces relate to one another. Nothing is said about GAFCON’s own repeated violations of these. Lambeth I.10 also acknowledged the Bishops’ inability to come to a common mind on the scriptural, theological, historical, and scientific questions which are raised. “The challenge to our Church is to maintain its unity while we seek, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to discern the way of Christ for the world today with respect to human sexuality. To do so will require sacrifice, trust and charity towards one another, remembering that ultimately the identity of each person is defined by Christ.”

For myself, I learned a long time ago that where you stand affects what you can see. In 2002, at the retirement of a colleague, I stood with 800 others in church to give thanks for the ministry of a gay priest who had exercised an outstanding ministry for 40 years among students, homeless people, and several parishes and congregations.

As the Diocesan Bishop’s Adviser on Pastoral Care, he had cared for many clergy, and had a particular ministry among gay people. Though the institutional Church has at times seemed to find their very existence an “inconvenient truth”, God made LGBT people, loves them, and preserves them. I knew I belonged with the people who gathered in church that evening, and Christ was with us.

+ NICHOLAS SARUM

* Note – this is an error introduced by the Church Times in-house drafting process.

Lambeth 1.10 hitlist condemned

The LGBTI Mission condemns the latest attempt by conservative evangelicals to bully the House of Bishops of the Church of England, who resume their consideration of sexuality matters next week.

On Sunday, GAFCON UK issued  a hitlist, containing some names of people who have, according to them, “violated” the terms of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 -Human Sexuality –  by various forms of action which express support for same-sex relationships.

Despite GAFCON UK denials, publishing this hitlist is an open invitation for people to harass those named in it. The statement appears however to be having the opposite effect, in that those named have expressed delight at their inclusion, and many people have complained that they were not included, with comments on Twitter such as this:

Being honest? Wanting an inclusive church that welcomes all made in God’s image? Praying for change? Better name and shame me too then!!

We are confident that the bishops will recognise this bullying tactic for what it is, and we assure them of our prayers as they work to lead the church into a place where we can live with diversity and with integrity.

Simon Sarmiento, Chair.

 

 

 

Changing Attitude and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement on the Bishops’ Reflection Group on Human Sexuality

Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

James 1.21-25

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement and Changing Attitude have welcomed the establishment of a Reflection Group under the leadership of Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich.  Whilst expressing disappointment that a group tasked with reflecting on issues of human sexuality does not appear to include any openly gay people, we recognise that this simply reflects the reality within the church’s leadership – that LGBT people are invisible, our voices often silenced, and our experiences unheard.  We welcome the opportunities which have arisen as part of the Shared Conversations to included the lived experience, deep conviction and prophetic witness of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and we recognise the enormously costly nature of the contribution many people have made to that process.

The Reflection Group must now consider the Church’s steps into the future.   In doing so, they will be called to listen carefully to all they have heard during the Shared Conversations.  We call upon them to lead the House of Bishops towards a future that celebrates the gifts of all God’s people including the LGBTI members of the Church of England and embodies the radical equality to which we are called in Christ.

Our prayer is that, strengthened by the Spirit, the members of the group will be enabled to listen, reflect and discern, and that as they undertake their work they will be granted moral courage and prophetic vision.  For we are all alike called to be not only hearers of the Word, but doers too;  our actions must match our words in seeking God’s justice, compassion and truth.

We continue to look forward to a future where LGBT people are no longer seen as a problem to be solved, but as gifted members of the Body of Christ, equal partners in prayer, service and mission.  Anything less than that falls short of the Good News  that God’s abundant love is for all humankind and that although LGBT people may struggle to find their place inside the church at the moment, God will travel with them when they choose the path of life, wherever that takes them.

Married clergy and laity write to Bishops

To All Members of the House of Bishops

September 2016

Dear Bishops

We are writing to you as married lesbian and gay members of the Church of England. Some of us are clergy; some of us are members of the laity. We are just a few of the many gay and lesbian people in this country who have in the past two years been able to celebrate with families, friends, and in our cases often our local Church community, the enriching and life enhancing love we have found in our wives and husbands.

We would like you to know that we will be praying for you as you meet in September as a College of Bishops.

Now that the Shared Conversations are at an end it is time for the Church of England to move forward and make clear the commitment to ‘good disagreement’ that was at their heart. We fully appreciate that the time may not yet be right for a change in the Church’s official understanding of marriage. But many in our parishes have already made that move and it is time to respect that a diversity of theology within the Church now exists and that there is more than one understanding of what a faithful Christian may believe on these issues.

As you meet to discuss we seek from you a clear lead that offers a way forward to greater inclusion that will enable those parishes that wish to do so to celebrate the love that we have found in our wives and husbands. We hope for an outcome that will enable those who wish to do so to publicly celebrate where we see God at work in the lives of our congregations without fear and in openness.

We encourage you to be bold, and to be honest about what many of you already believe from your own experience, and to what you know to be increasingly the direction of travel, not just in our Church but in many Churches in this country.

We will always want to see the full inclusion of LGBTI people in the Church, and we will continue to work towards it. We look forward to welcoming a first step in that process and a move away from the harm and hurt that has so often been done in the name of the Church.

Yours in Christ

Clergy:

  1. The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain and Stephen Foreshew-Cain
  2. The Revd Richard Harris and Ricardo Goncalves.
  3. The Revd Garry Lawson and Timothy H. Wane
  4. The Revd Clive Larson and John Markham
  5. The Revd Paul Collier and Mr Collier
  6. The Revd Canon Jeremy Davis and Simon McEnery
  7. The Revd Geoffrey Thompson and Tony Steeles
  8. The Revd Prof Mark Cobb and Keith Arrowsmith

Laity

9. Jeremy Timm & Mike Brown
10. Ruth Wilde & Ellie Wilde
11. Jack Semple and Ross Griffiths
12. Paul Jellings and Andrew Carter
13. Erica Baker and Susan Strong
14. Karen and Samantha Bregazzi-Jones
15. Keith Barber and Tim Mills
16. Simon Dawson and David Mooney

In addition a further seven clergy couples and Readers have indicated their support for this letter whilst wishing to remain anonymous in order to protect themselves, and often their Bishops, from attack.

 

 

LGBTI Mission: Statement about the Bishop of Grantham

 

The LGBTI Mission welcomes the openness that Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain has shown in revealing personal information about himself, while we deplore the media threat which has led to the need for this to happen. We assure him of our love and prayers , extending to his partner, his colleagues, and his wider family.

We are pleased that the forthcoming College of Bishops meeting will now have at least one openly LGBTI voice in their discussion of what next steps the Church of England should take in regard to same-sex relationships. We hope this will lead to increased openness among bishops so that burden does not long remain on the Bishop of Grantham alone.

The Guardian reports that Bishop Nicholas himself has said:

“I will speak [at the meeting], and this part of me will be known. I hope I’ll be able to be a standard-bearer for all people as a gay man. And I really hope that I’ll be able to help us move on beyond matters of sexuality,”

And, asked whether other bishops might follow his lead in openly declaring their sexuality, he said: “I really can only speak for myself. If I’m an encouragement to others, that would be great.”

We are also pleased that both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Lincoln have expressed their unequivocal support for him, and confirmed that they made his appointment with full knowledge of his circumstances. But we regret that when announcing senior appointments the Church still adheres to a discriminatory policy of purposeful concealment. It is this policy which has lead directly to the discomfort which Bishop Nicholas is now experiencing.

The need to review the absurd and cruel double standard still applied in relation to sexual conduct of the clergy remains an urgent task for the Church.

 

LGCM comments on Bishop of Grantham

The LGBTI Mission will publish its own statement shortly, but meanwhile Tracey Byrne of LGCM wrote this last night:

In an interview with the Guardian which you can read here, Nick Chamberlain, the Bishop of Grantham, has spoken of his long term, committed, celibate gay relationship, which was known to those who appointed him as a suffragan bishop in Lincoln diocese last year.  He says that he has made the announcement because another newspaper was planning to publish the news anyway on Sunday.  He becomes the first bishop in the Church of England to be openly in a gay relationship.

First and foremost in our thoughts are Bishop Nick, his partner, friends, colleagues and those close to him.  He will need our love and prayers right now, and he should be assured of them.  Few of us can anticipate what challenges will face him over the coming weeks, and the past few days must have been almost unbearably difficult.  It is to be hoped that the short term media circus and blogosphere frenzy give way to a greater peace in time, permitting a good and highly-regarded man to continue to exercise the ministry to which he has been called – perhaps with a renewed sense of freedom to be fully himself.

Whilst the debates will no doubt continue about the rights and wrongs of ‘outing’ – as some will see this – it is important to acknowledge that others bear some responsibility for the pressures which have led to today’s news.  It should be noted that Bishop Nick is not in a civil partnership, and so it is perhaps unwise to draw a direct parallel with a married opposite-sex couple.  However, his relationship is clearly an important and significant one, in which he has flourished and within the context of which he has been supported in his ministry as a fine priest and pastor, and now bishop.

Those who made the appointment were aware of Bishop Nick’s relationship and were satisfied that he is living within the discipline of the church.  Whilst that space for accommodating priests in celibate gay relationships is an unsatisfactory one for many of us, and a costly one for those who have made that choice, it is nevertheless a valid choice to make, both for the individual concerned, and for those making the appointment.  It is a choice which should be respected, and those relationships and individuals should be honoured.

It is regrettable that Bishop Nick’s relationship, about which he speaks in such touching terms in the interview, was not acknowledged at the time of his appointment.  We need to see LGBT people in leadership roles in the church, and LGBT people can only flourish when they are able to be fully and openly themselves.  We would not dream of expecting a straight person to keep a long-term relationship ‘private’ – indeed, details of the marital status, hobbies and offspring of appointees to senior posts have become a staple of Downing Street press releases.  One can only imagine the pressure under which Bishop Nick and his partner – and for all we know, others – have been placed by this ongoing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach.  That pressure is now, for Bishop Nick at least, released.  It is to be hoped that those who bear some responsibility for what he has endured, and for what lies ahead, will be faithful and steadfast in their love and support for him.

Today marks a new beginning for the Church of England as it continues to wrestle with the issue of human sexuality – or as we prefer to call it, real life.  It’s a small step – albeit one at significant cost to the individuals involved – towards a more grown-up and honest understanding, and away from secrecy and invisibility.  For that, Bishop Nick is to be thanked for his courage, dignity and grace.

So tonight, please pray…

…for Bishop Nick and those he loves, for the people of Lincoln diocese, those with whom and amongst whom he leads and serves…

…for those who have an opportunity, now, to stand alongside him…

….for those holding secrets and those trying to let them go…

…for others who may be feeling fearful of their ‘secrets’, especially the young and those whose safety is at risk…

…for Jeffrey John and for Gene Robinson, who have trodden some parts of this path before…

…for all those shining light into places of secrecy, that they might be granted wisdom and compassion…

…for the presence of the Spirit within and between and amongst us, leading us into all truth, and to the truth that sets us free.

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)