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Views are mixed on sexuality talks

29 May 2015


Valuable encounter: the Revd Richard Coles has blogged about his experience at the shared conversations

Valuable encounter: the Revd Richard Coles has blogged about his experience at the shared conversations

A PRIEST in a same-sex marriage has described how he found participating in shared conversations on sexuality "demeaning and infuriating".

The Shared Conversations on Scripture, Mission and Human Sexuality started last month, and are taking place in three-day meetings, organised by region, until next March ( News, 8 May). Canon Jeremy Pemberton, Deputy Senior Chaplain in the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, took part in the East Midlands conversations this month.

"I found that my salvation, my standing as a Christian, my vocation, my marriage, my ministry, my motives, my integrity, were all, sometimes explicitly and sometimes more implicitly, questioned or denied," he wrote in a blog post this month.

Canon Pemberton wrote: "It is the case that these Conversations have no explicit intended outcomes, nor is there any reporting structure beyond the Conversations themselves."

Also at the East Midlands event was the Priest-in-Charge of St Mary the Virgin, Finedon, the Revd Richard Coles, who presents Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4. He saw them more positively.

In a blog posted the Sunday before last, he said that a conservative Evangelical's "gracious and thoughtful" explanation of his position was "impressive and valuable".

A pledge from another participant that his position would not change, but that he would not leave the Church, was "significant for it encourages the hope that some change and some accommodation may be reached", Fr Coles wrote.

Shared conversations have also been held in Yorkshire. In a blog written last Sunday, Tim Moore said that it had become apparent to him that "change was travelling in only one direction: people's views were changing towards greater acceptance of LGBT+ people in the Church and the imperative to celebrate committed same-sex relationships in a sacramental way."

The "matter-of-fact" talk of the possibility of people's splitting away from the Church had been "refreshing" when compared with the "timid and euphemistic way notions of unity are dealt with in a lot of church-political discourse".

He shared Canon Pemberton's concerns that there was no "official process to follow up on the Conversations", but had found that a "shared faith, almost without us realising, kindled a sense of community over those few days away".

A Scottish model. The Church of Scotland has voted in favour of allowing people in civil partnerships to be called as ministers and deacons. While the Church has adopted a position that maintains "a traditional view of marriage between a man and woman", individual congregations will be allowed to "opt out" if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a civil partnership.

The General Assembly passed the motion by 309 to 182, on Saturday, after years of debates and votes. On Thursday, it will be asked to consider amending the new law to include ministers in same-sex marriages.


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