Monday, September 14, 2009

Gracious Restraint?

Tomorrow night I am attending a meeting in Sydney at which the speaker will be the Primate of Australia and Archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall.
He had lunch with Bishop Gene Robinson in Anaheim and I think also met with him in Brisbane but I am nervous about the title of his address.
Gracious Restraint: Hastening Slowly in the Anglican Communion

It is worth noting that the meeting is not in the Sydney Cathedral but in the most anglo-catholic of parishes in the diocese, Christ Church St Laurence.
I sense Archbishop Aspinall is sympathetic but am afraid any idea of gracious restraint is just seen as weakness by those who run the Sydney Diocese.

If TEC and the province of New Zealand had maintained a policy of gracious restraint I doubt there would be women priests let alone Bishops anywhere in the Anglican Communion. The stranglehold of the Diocese of Sydney has kept Australia way back in accepting the rights of women (Priests 1992, Bishops 2008 and still not as Diocesans) while New Zealand had women priests in 1977 and a woman as Diocesan Bishop in 1990). If the Australian province continues to kowtow in gracious restraint to the Sydney Diocese in acceptance of LGBT people, there will be no change in my lifetime.

I am usually far too nervous to speak up in such public meetings but would like to read out the following comment in 'The Changing Attitude Blog"

We are already present in the church. However, we are clearly not fully present. Our presence is fully welcomed and accepted in a few Provinces, tolerated in others and invisible in the majority of Provinces.

Where it is now legally possible, we are contracting Civil Partnerships and Marriages. Elsewhere we are creating relationships equivalent to marriage - loving, lifelong, faithful and monogamous.

We are present at every level of church ministry, lay and ordained, readers, deacons, priests, bishops and archbishops, celibate, single and partnered.
We are present across the whole Anglican Communion, LGBT people of faith, the majority of us invisible to and unrecognised by the church.

The attention of the Communion is absorbed by consideration of the Anglican Covenant, questions about church order, authority and doctrine and an obsession with homosexuality.

Our very presence demands an answer to the question we pose, a question that will never go away because we LGBT people will never go away. LGBT people will continue to be born and drawn into a life of faith by the Holy Spirit in OUR as yet unwelcoming Anglican Communion.

How IS the Anglican Communion going to make room for us? I know how the church is pragmatically making room for us in England and Wales, the USA and Canada, in South Africa and New Zealand. I know how the church is trying to deny room in Nigeria and Uganda, the Sudan and Kenya, the Southern Cone and South East Asia.

The conservative tactic has been to focus on the USA and Canada as the Provinces presenting the Communion with a problem. These Provinces present the Communion with a challenge, one which will engage every Province. LGBT people are in the midst of the church, woven invisibly into church life. We are constructing healthy, creative and holy lives in response to the call of God, inspired by political change in the secular world.

We are a minority in the church. We are caught in a trap. We cannot easily show the church how profoundly committed and faithful we are to God because the prejudice and hostility directed against us intimidates us into silence and invisibility.

How is the Anglican Communion graciously going to open herself and make room for us?

1 comment:

motheramelia said...

Brian, that is a wonderful statement. You could preface it by saying that even though you didn't write them, those words do reflect your feelings and hopes. Here's to courage.