You may be aware that over the past few years the Church of England has been engaging with a project entitled Living in Love and Faith which has explored the subject of sexuality.
I was involved personally by leading, with another clergy colleague, a 5-week course looking at Christian teaching and learning about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. Several people from the Parish of Horndon, Orsett and Bulphan attended this course. The sessions included a time of watching videos where people of varying sexual orientations and genders shared something of their life stories and their faith. This was followed by discussion and prayer.
The purpose of this course was both to promote better understanding between people of different sexualities and differing theological viewpoints and to help the General Synod (the Church of England Governing Body) to make a decision regarding same sex marriage within the church. I think it is fair to say that nearly everyone who attended the course found it to be a positive experience.
Recently, many of you will have read in the news that the Church of England is proposing to bless same sex partnerships in the future, a decision conditional upon this proposal receiving a majority vote at General Synod in February.
I will be able to give you further details about this in March after the General Synod has met.
But I felt it important, at this time, to reassure you that everyone is welcome at our three parish churches.
“We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, confused, well-heeled or down at heel. We especially welcome wailing babies and excited toddlers.
We welcome you whether you can sing like Pavarotti or just growl quietly to yourself. You’re welcome here if you’re just ‘browsing’, just woken up or just got out of prison. We don’t care if you’re more Christian than the Archbishop of Canterbury or haven’t been to church since Christmas ten years ago.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet and to teenagers who are growing up too fast.
We welcome keep-fit parents, football fanatics, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians and junk food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, are down in the dumps or don’t like ‘organised religion’
We offer a warm welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, can’t spell or are here because granny is visiting and wanted to come to church.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced, both or neither. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down their throat as kids or got lost with a dodgy satnav and wound up here by mistake.
We welcome pilgrims, tourists, seekers, doubters…and you! “
Seen at Coventry Cathedral
And in the words of a song we often sing: ‘All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.’
With love and prayers,