From the Revd Julian Hollywell
Sir, - The Continuing Indaba Conversations that recently took
place across the Anglican Communion showed that, if nothing else,
it is possible with integrity to sit in a circle and hold
extraordinary diversity, and with authenticity together proclaim
the reconciling love of Jesus Christ.
It was one of the greatest privileges of my ministry to
participate in Continuing Indaba as part of the Derby-Mumbai-New
York conversation. At one particularly powerful and fractured
moment, we sat at the eucharist together in a chapel in Bangalore.
Never has the breaking of bread held so tangibly for me the very
presence of Christ's reconciling love.
This experience leads me tentatively to raise two warnings about
how the Shared Conversations on sexuality (News, 12
September) may be undermined.
First, when as individuals we were not able to step beyond the
grip of our own fear, we lacked the imagination and humility to
apprehend a world beyond our own construction, and, therefore,
failed to listen intentionally to the experience of our sisters and
brothers who challenged us.
Second, the integrity of the Shared Conversation was lost when
there was not a level playing field - that is, when it became
apparent that hierarchy and authority were actually undermining the
ability of particular individuals to be authentic.
If the Shared Conversations that lie ahead are to have any
authenticity, those who hold authority in the Church must make an
intentional decision to step away from trying to manage the
conversation. This means being truly present to the conversation as
individuals, and not in role as bishops attempting to hold a line.
This will take enormous courage.
It also means not undermining the integrity of the dialogue by
the way authority is exercised outside those Shared Conversations.
The House of Bishops Pastoral Statement issued in February was an
unreconciling act, re-establishing a climate of real fear among
LGBT people. Is it not possible for the House of Bishops to
consider offering an apology, or at least an acknowledgement that
it may have been unhelpful?
I guess an apology is an impossibly difficult thing to request,
as it would mean acknowledging that a mistake might have been made;
but the Church is asking an impossibly difficult thing of our gay
and lesbian brothers and sisters at this time, too.
Those who have been and continue to be wounded, who feel
continued exclusion, are being called yet again to make the
impossibly difficult step into the circle and believe in the
sincerity of those who have hurt them. Now that is indeed an act of
reconciliation, and an enormous leap of faith.
The Vicarage, Gascoigne Drive,
Spondon, Derbyshire DE21 7GL