The Rector, currently on sabbatical, writes:
I welcome the recent statements by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which recognise and apologise for the fact that the Church of England has not always been a place of welcome for LGBT+ people. I am pleased that through the new prayer resources being provided, they are committed to helping the church fulfil its mission of care for all people and recognise the goodness that many same sex relationships embody.
As the PCC of St Anne’s supports the Campaign for Equal Marriage, many within St Anne’s will share my disappointment that the outcome of the Living in Love and Faith process stops a long way short of celebrating same-sex marriage. Because the Church had reaffirmed marriage as being only between one man and one woman and for life (despite allowing clergy to marry divorcees), the prayers being offered for couples seek God’s blessing for the relationship rather than confer God’s blessing on it. The prayers make no mention of their marriage even if these prayers are used, as intended, after a civil marriage ceremony.
Whilst it might be considered a gesture of generous Christian hospitality that a priest may conduct the marriage in church of a heterosexual couple who have absolutely no Christian faith, that she or he remains unable even to bless the similarly loving union of a gay or lesbian couple expressed in legal marriage, who are committed Christians, seems profoundly wrong. Whilst LGBT+ individuals and couples continue to be treated as second-class citizens by and within the church, the stigmatisation, hostility and discrimination for which the archbishops are apologising will be allowed to continue, making their apologies ring sadly hollow.
At St Anne’s we celebrate that ‘those who live in love, live in God’ (1 John 4:16). We give thanks to God with the psalmist that each one of us is ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ (Ps 139:14). And our faith is in Christ Jesus in whom we are united, whatever our differences (Gal 3:28) because the unity of the Trinity is stronger than the diversity of humanity.
I believe there are no second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God, and therefore no-one should be treated as such in the Church of England.