CHURCH OF ENGLAND HOLDS GAY AND LESBIAN SERVICE
Derived From: Episcopal News Service (ENS), Item #96-1643, 1996-DEC-16
One of the aims of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) in England
is to change the Church of England's rules which currently exclude non-celibate
homosexuals from ordination. They sponsored a service on NOV-16 at Southwark
Cathedral to recognize their 20th anniversary.
Provost Colin Slee of the cathedral came under significant pressure from
conservative groups, urging him to cancel the service. Archbishop of Canterbury
George Carey responded with a statement: "It is plain that some of the aims
of the LGCM are in conflict with the General Synod resolution of November 1987
and the understanding set out by the House of Bishops in 1991." However,
he confirmed the cathedral's action. Making the church available was "a mark
of recognition that followers of Christ should cherish all that they have in common,
notwithstanding strong differences of opinion on particular issues."
A conservative group, Reform criticized the Archbishop saying "The use
of Southwark Cathedral for the LGCM service will be seen as the church validating
gay sex." A coalition of conservative forces held services of fasting and prayer
in 50 parishes. Phillip Hacking, chairman of "Reform" said they were "praying for
God to have mercy on the church and turn back those going against the commandments."
He predicted that ordaining non-celibate gays would "certainly lead to a
fragmentation of the Church of England."
Quoting the ECN release:
"During the service, Bishop John Gladwin of Guildford called for lesbians and gays
to be part of an inclusive 'community of support and care,' and warned of 'powerful
and ungodly homophobic forces at work in our culture.' Gladwin emphasized that there
was a tension between the church's understanding of sexuality and 'what lesbian and
gay people find to be good and creative in their lives.' He cautioned the congregates
that the tension 'is no reason for abandoning the tradition ... Let me say gently to
you, and I know this is not going to be easy to hear, we cannot solve our dilemma by
turning cohabitation or same-sex relationships into marriage.'"
Future plans of the LGCM include an expansion of the "welcoming congregations" program
in which individual congregations formally state their acceptance of
homosexuals. They also plan to promote an inclusive policy of ordination
during 1998 Lambeth Conference.
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