Over the last five years or so, there has been a growing movement in the US for a day in which the Churches celebrate the gifts that different genders and different sexualities bring to the life of faith. The designated day is the 29th June (not sure why?) so we decided to broaden that call to the rest of the world. and celebrated the day with a talk and discussion at our church meeting (SPACE, Sunderland Peace And Christianity Explored)
What is clear, is that there is a disparity between a ground swell with in the church to eliminate homophobia, challenging inequality, and the actions of the Church of England hierarchy regarding LGBT clergy.
In our churches, the CofE is being asked to be more aware and accepting of Gay Christians, but clergy who are Gay are told that they must be non-practicing. Indeed, if they are to even attempt to legally get married, they face disciplinary procedures with in the Church of England, as has already occurred to the first Gay clergyman who was married in May. Worse still, the church still refuses to endorse an official blessing service for Gay Christians who are in a civil partnership or who legally marry.
The strain of these injustices is already beginning to tell. Clergy clearly cannot defend an indefensible position, so have to admit when questioned that the Church of England is discriminating against Gay clergy and LGBT Christians - it is undoubtedly behaving in a homophobic way.
What a mess. In our church, on the 29th June 2014, the mood was defiant. We intend to publically and demonstrably show our support for equality in the Church, and celebrate the lives of all LGBT people of faith. We decided to have an inclusive stall at the next Sunderland Pride, and will not shirk from encouraging the Church to remember that the call to 'love our neighbours as we love ourselves' includes the LGBT community.