Bishop addresses LGCM conference

26 April 2013

THE Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, addressed the annual conference of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) in Brighton on Saturday. It was the first time a senior Anglican bishop had done so, Chichester diocese said.

Dr Warner told the conference that "he was not in favour of gay marriage on theological grounds, but he felt the Church needed to find ways to honour gay relationships," a statement from Chichester diocese said. "These were different from marriage but deserved equally to be respected and valued."

Dr Warner also told the conference that being in a civil partnership was not necessarily a bar to ordination, and that the "listening process" initiated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference, "which had not really developed in the diocese", would "begin afresh".

Speaking later, Dr Warner said: "Brighton and Hove is the largest concentrated area of LGBT people anywhere in the country. The welcome I received at the event was unquestionably gracious and generous. We should be enormously grateful for the voice that this community brings to our ministry."

Dr Keith Sharpe, chairman of Changing Attitude Sussex, said that he hoped that the "renewed listening process" would mean that "a real and open dialogue can develop between the Church and the LGBT community. In the light of his remarks about marriage, we also hope that Bishop Martin will vote for civil partnerships to be celebrated in Church when this is discussed in the House of Bishops."

The chief executive of the LGCM, the Revd Sharon Ferguson, said: "It was reassuring to hear the welcoming message from Bishop Martin, which was sincere and heartfelt, and his response to the varied questions that were presented was honest even when the answer was not necessarily what the audience wanted to hear. This sort of dialogue allows for both parties to be heard and real progress to be made. I feel confident that a true listening process will be instigated and that the LGBT community in Bishop Martin's diocese will find a welcome within the Church."

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