Saturday, 4 February 2017

By way of apology for the Church of England: sexuality report

I want to apologise as much as is possible for the Church of England in the wake of Friday's report on the Church and shared conversations on sexuality and gender (that I find too unbearable to read in full).

I represent the church in a very small and insignificant number of ways (mainly as a chaplain), so I think I can apologise without it being entirely meaningless, though possibly almost without meaning—I don't know—but for what is worth, I am saddened and sorry and want to say, sorry.

I am also sorry that however minor a place I have in the church, I am now continuing to be in elevated position, for the foreseeable future, in the eyes of last week's CofE report on sexuality (and thus the CofE where I serve). This is because I am cis-gender and not L or G or B or T or Q or U or I or A or A or P or gender-fluid, or non-binary or however else, people want to be free to self-define.

I am sorry and deeply mortified and I am sorry, for all who personally are now experiencing pain and suffering, both for themselves and their friends.

I am also wanting to apologise to many of my friends and colleagues and acquaintances and the people I serve. I'm seeking to find out what else I can do from my position of advantage, that I desperately hoped would no longer exist.

I've been asked if it is meaningless and hypocritical of me to apologise while I continue to serve in the Church of England, be salaried / stipended and housed as part of my role.

I think the contradictions I embody could be judged that way. What I'd also say is that I have determined to use my position of compromised privilege to serve the mission of the church on the topics of social inclusion, education, equality, liberation and justice: for students and staff at the university where I'm licensed to serve and in the wider community. That includes working with the vulnerable in the ageing population, for children and supporting children's spiritual development. I am seeking and campaigning for liturgical reform, which is central to the theology and underpinning values of the church.

Is that effort in some ways cancelled out by dissonances embodied in public servants of the church, like me: yes, to some extent, I'm sure. I can see that the church has diminished people and so we are all diminished. How I can tolerate the role tension, is probably driven by those who have endured much greater role tensions than I to serve in much more significant ways at a much greater personal cost. I cannot imagine getting anywhere near that level of risk-taking determination, but I hope to at least be under the gravitational influence of such servants of God who remain working for the church.

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