I’m trying to think of a punchy way to sum up how it feels to read the 19 page report from the House of Bishops RE the Shared Conversations process.
I can’t, but the report itself is punchy, just not in a good way.
Almost three years ago the Shared conversations were born; they were a process which every diocese and General Synod member would take part in, in hope to talk about the elephant in the room, and think about how we are to continue together amid deep disagreement.
We were always told this wasn’t a decision making process, that there was no planned outcome, but we were asked to trust and I did.
I trusted because what else was I to do? I took part because there was no other real option if we wanted any sort of change, I opened my heart to those who I disagree with because I firmly believe that if I don’t we’re never going to ‘walk forward together.’
It was never going to be easy reading the culmination of three years’ work, I knew there would be parts I wouldn’t be happy with, and unfortunately I knew some of it would probably hurt, but being openly gay in the Church of England it’s what you sign up too!
But I don’t think I’m alone when I say this feels like a whole load of woolly nothing.
For me the essence of the whole report is, ‘We’re going to continue as we are, but we’ll publish a new training document, we think it’s unfair to question only gay ordinands on their bedroom habits, so we’ll just question everyone. Oh and we’re not going to change any law, provide any liturgy for blessing CPs, and marriage is still only for a man and a woman, for life.’ (Anyone want to mention anything about divorce? No…?)
One of the most prevalent sentences of the whole document, I thought, was in the first few paragraphs.
“If we are heard as lacking in love, our ability to proclaim the God of love as revealed in Jesus Christ is damaged or negated.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
This isn’t proclaiming the love of God. The world outside of the Church of England are laughing at us, shaking their heads, because they cannot see how we are still falling over ourselves and not being able to sort this out!
I long for the day that I don’t have to go around attempting to pick up the pieces of the damaged LGBT community because the CofE has **** on it from a great height.
But I will, because this is my Church as much as anyone else’s, because I am one of the fortunate ones to have an amazing family and Church family that supports me 100%, because one day I will read a Church of England report that allows same sex couples to walk down the aisle of their Church. Even if I am in a nursing home, with elasticated trousers, and sitting on a waterproof chair.
As my friend Tracey at LGCM quoted earlier in the week, “We asked for bread, and you gave us a stone.”
That doesn’t mean we turn away and go home, it means we ask again and again, we work harder, and we don’t give up until we get it.