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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Joint Letter From Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York.

Archbishop Welsby and Archbishop Sentamu published this letter in response to the debate about same-sex relationships that took place at General Synod last wednesday. You can read more about the debate here, you can also see the letter here that we sent from PCC with the aim of influencing the debate.

Here is the letter: 

The full text of the letter is here: 

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Following the vote in General Synod not to take note of the paper on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations (GS 2055) we are writing to set out the way forward in the next few months.
First, we want to be clear about some underlying principles. In these discussions no person is a problem, or an issue. People are made in the image of God. All of us, without exception, are loved and called in Christ. There are no 'problems', there are simply people called to redeemed humanity in Christ.
How we deal with the real and profound disagreement - put so passionately and so clearly by many at the debate - is the challenge we face as people who all belong to Christ.
To deal with that disagreement and to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.
We need to work together - not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone - to move forward with confidence.
The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ - all of us, without exception, without exclusion.
Nevertheless while the principles are straightforward, putting them into practice, as we all know, is not, given the deep disagreements among us.
We are therefore asking first for every Diocesan Bishop to meet with their General Synod members for an extended conversation in order to establish clearly the desires of every member of Synod for the way forward. 
As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.
Secondly, we, with others, will be formulating proposals for the May House of Bishops for a large scale teaching document around the subject of human sexuality. In an episcopal church a principal responsibility of Bishops is the teaching ministry of the church, and the guarding of the deposit of faith that we have all inherited. The teaching document must thus ultimately come from the Bishops. However, all episcopal ministry must be exercised with all the people of God, lay and ordained, and thus our proposals will ensure a wide ranging and fully inclusive approach, both in subject matter and in those who work on it.
We will also be suggesting to the Business Committee a debate in general terms on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. We wish to give the General Synod an opportunity to consider together those things we do affirm.
In the meantime, we commend to your prayers our common concern for every member of this church, of all views, and most especially our concern for the mission of God to which we are called by the Father,  for which we are made ready by the Son, and in which we are equipped by the Holy Spirit.
+ Justin Cantuar:                                             +Sentamu Eboracensis 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Message from Our Church Wardens - February PCC

Dear Friends,

We promised at the start of our interregnum (the period without a permanent vicar) that we would do our best to keep you up to date with what is happening, so here's a summary of the latest news.

Most people are wondering when we might have a new vicar and at Thursday's PCC we read a letter from our Archdeacon Cherry explaining progress of the recruitment process. In short the post will be advertised during March aiming to appoint somebody during Summer.

In the meantime we continue working hard to maintain a vibrant Christian presence in our local area. One of the things people tell us they like about our church is that we are welcoming of everyone, whatever race, ability, gender or sexuality. That's why we often display the message 'Everyone is Welcome Here' on our notice board. It's also why our church is a member of the Inclusive Church network.

We were disappointed, to say the least, at the news that the long awaited report to the House of Bishops on same sex marriage had recommended that there be no change to the status quo in the Anglican Church.  The reaction of members of our own congregation was much stronger, so we resolved as a PCC to write to our General Synod representatives and urge them to vote against accepting the report at next week's Synod. Though not everyone finds all of the issues easy to think about or discuss we all agreed that a better way of being accepting and loving to all our fellow Christians is overdue and that the report falls well short of it. You can see the letter we sent here.

As usual at the PCC meeting we reviewed our expenditure and financial position, we have had some routine maintenance carried out recently but are managing to keep on top of the challenges of maintaining a historic building. We have been in touch with our diocesan stewardship officer to make sure we keep up to date with the most effective ways of funding the work we do at St John's. One notable and interesting point is the preference for people under 40 to be able to give money on line, in preference to cash. Given that the majority of adults at our Thursday service are under 40 (not counting the wardens and music group!) we decided to investigate on-line giving methods. We will soon have an account with BT MyDonate which is, in our view, the most cost-effective way for charities to collect on-line donations.

We also hope that by communicating with all of our congregations you will understand better where your money goes and also what work we are carrying on doing. That way you can make better decisions about how and what to donate to support the work of St John's.
To help us to do that we are establishing a communications group to review all of the ways that you get information and to make sure that everyone is catered for in the way we share messages.

Our young people's groups are as popular as ever with the children and young adults that attend them. Unfortunately it is looking increasingly unlikely that we will be able to sustain all of them unless we have any volunteers to take over in the coming months. Please, if you are thinking about where to give your volunteering time, consider this important work.

Don't forget if you use the internet regularly you can keep up to date with church events on our blog , on our Facebook page and of course there is a host of information on our website. The full minutes of all PCC meetings are in a folder at the rear of church. In the meantime if you have an opinion or a suggestion about church let us know, or let one of the members of the PCC know.
With best wishes,

Brian and Eddie  

Our Letter to the Bishop of Manchester and General Synod Representatives

You may have seen the news recently about the report to the House of Bishops on same sex relationships. The report has caused considerable hurt, not least to people in our own congregation.

We are part of the Inclusive Church network and last week our PCC agreed to send a letter expressing our views on the report, to our General Synod representatives.

Here is the letter we sent:

This is the full text of the letter:

The Right Reverend David Walker

Bishops Court 
Bury New Road
M7 4LE
My Lord,

We are writing to you and our other General Synod representatives on behalf of the PCC of St John the Baptist Church, Hey in the Rochdale Archdeaconry in response to the publication of the report to the House of Bishops on same sex marriage.

The publication, with its attendant media coverage, set out very clearly to the world  the position in respect of our church's attitude and treatment of LGBTi Christians and  also to those seeking faith who may consider joining with us in the Anglican church.
It is our belief and view that the report has already done great harm to the Anglican church, and we as a PCC have already felt the hurt with our brothers and sisters in our own congregation that the results of this report have caused.

To support the preparation of the report many gay and lesbian Christians entered into a dialogue with their church in good faith, openly and honestly believing that doing so was right for the church. They expressed deeply held feelings of a personal nature and opened themselves in love and faith for, they believed, the benefit of our church.

As an appendix to this letter we enclose some personal accounts of our own PCC members' reaction to both this report and to the search for acceptance in the Anglican church, they are not attributed to individuals, however our friends would gladly have further conversation with you or your representatives if it would help.

We find it inconceivable that the resulting report has arrived at the conclusion it has after such an exercise of consultation. If anything the report suggests a hardening of heart, rather than an opening of attitudes in love.

We, at St John the Baptist Church, are part of the Inclusive Church network, we display a poster to the community in which we are a Christian presence that states boldly 'All Are Welcome Here'. The continued attitude of our church however causes us to feel that our poster is not entirely honest.

People in our community may be welcome to step across the threshold, indeed they will receive a warm welcome in Christ's name; however we cannot in honesty say that all people are welcome to share in all of the sacraments of the church.
People we worship alongside and share ministry with should be treated in the same way as each other. Discrimination carried out in this way is most certainly not the work of God, it is purely the work of people: the people we respect and expect to lead us in faith.

We urge you and our other diocesan members of General Synod to refuse to 'note' the content of the report and actively pursue a better way for us to live and work to Christ's glory together in love and fairness.

Yours in love,

On  behalf of the PCC of St John the Baptist Church, Hey.

CC: The Very Reverend Rogers Govender
CC: The Very Reverend Mark Davies
CC: The Venerable Cherry Vann
CC: The Reverend Graham Hollowood
CC: Mrs Margaret Parrett

Appendix:  Personal Statements

'I'm more than disappointed to be honest. I thought as a church we were moving forward but clearly that is not the case. Christ brings freedom and yet the church brings oppression. How is this love?.. I know God is calling me to ministry but realistically can I live a life of oppression and also inflict that oppression on [my wife]. This only drives the wedge in harder and separates gay people from other Christians and also from God. It saddens me deeply'.

'As a church are we really going to continue to uphold these viewpoints and continue to psychologically damage gay people into believing they are immoral if they love another and wish to be joined together and be accepted, forcing some gay people to live in secret to feel degraded, ashamed of their love.'

I now feel that my own views and beliefs have been disregarded and I am now being asked to live my life via an interpretation of scripture that I fundamentally disagree with. If a parent was to judge another parent and dictate that they change their way of how they raise their child because their principles were inherently different this would be seen as inappropriate and frankly rude. Everyone should be able to choose their own path otherwise our journey becomes a dictatorship this choice has now been taken away from me as one interpretation of scripture has been given credibility over others. Homosexuals should be allowed to marry who they love and a Canon law should not dictate otherwise. To suggest that our homosexual clergy can only live with another same sex partner via a civil partnership and must refrain from sexual relations is appalling treatment.'

'I love my church and the people who make it as special as it is. I am not hurt by St John's I know the Church as a whole will eventually move on but things take time. I'm hoping it will be like the decision for women Bishops and we will get there one day'