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Saturday, 11 February 2017

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'

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