The House of Bishops recently released a ‘pastoral statement’ on civil partnerships which has been much ridiculed in the press. At St John’s we would like to reaffirm our commitment to the vision of Inclusive Church, of which we are a member:
“We believe in inclusive Church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate. We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality. We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”
Because of the Church of England’s official policy we are not legally permitted to conduct civil partnerships or same-sex weddings at St John’s, but when members of our community choose to change the status of their relationships in these ways we celebrate with them – if they wish, in church. We welcome all children to baptism, whatever the status of their parents’ relationship, and our congregation includes people in a wide variety of relationships, as well, of course, as single people.
We believe that the current teaching of the Church of England on sex and marriage is inadequate and harmful, and we hope and pray for a time when the church will acknowledge the glorious variety of God’s creation and develop a more life-affirming doctrine of sex and relationships. The process of change in the Church of England is slow, but at St John’s we are advocating for and working for that change.
If you’d like to read works by Christians who disagree with the House of Bishops, we’d recommend Jeffrey John’s book Permanent, Faithful, Stable (on homosexuality) and Rowan Williams’ essay ‘The body’s grace’ (on sexuality in general).
The clergy are happy to talk about these matters – feel free to get in touch with one of us!