AT LEAST 100 people, including a dozen bishops, joined an LGBTI+ solidarity march in Canterbury yesterday, on the first day of the Lambeth Conference.
The Episcopal News Service (ENS) reports that among those marching were some of the bishops who are in same-sex marriages but whose partners have not been invited to participate in the parallel conference programme for spouses.
The march was organised by the staff at the University of Kent, where the Lambeth Conference is being held.
In a statement in June, the deputy vice-chancellor and chair of the Lambeth Steering Group, Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura, wrote: “The position of the worldwide Anglican Communion on the place of LGBT+ people within the Church and wider society does not fit with our deeply held values of equality, inclusion, tolerance, and mutual respect. We say that openly and unambiguously.”
In 2019, when it was confirmed that the spouses of bishops in same-sex marriages would not be invited to the conference, the university stepped-in to offer them accommodation (News, 29 March 2019). There are at least four US bishops in same-sex marriages who are attending the conference this summer, as well as the Rt Revd Kevin Robertson, a suffragan bishop in Toronto.
The Bishop of Maine, the Rt Revd Thomas Brown, attended the march yesterday with his husband, the Revd Thomas Mousin. “Whenever there’s a sense of welcome, there’s a sense of joy. And what I felt was that this university community came together to say, ‘We are glad you’re here,’” Bishop Brown told the Episcopal News Service.
“It’s delightful to be here — it’s just like a wave of love,” Mr Mousin added.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was criticised for not inviting the spouses of bishops in same-sex marriages, and reportedly defended the position on the basis that, if they were invited, “there won’t be a Lambeth Conference” (News, 22 February 2019). In May, the Primates of Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda issued a joint statement to express their reasons for not attending the conference, and instructing the bishops in their provinces to stay away (News, 7 June).
The Primates cited “indications that homosexual ‘Bishops’ [sic] and maybe their spouses have been invited to the forthcoming Lambeth Conference” as part of their reasoning.
Last week, one of the “Lambeth Calls” which will be discussed by bishops in the course of the conference was redrafted to remove a statement that it was the “the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that same gender marriage is not permissible”, and replacing it with an acknowledgement that there is a diversity of positions within the Communion (News, 26 July).