Friday, February 23, 2007

Dar es Salaam

It's actually incredibly difficult to blog about the recent meeting of Primates of the Anglican Communion in Dar es Salaam. It's difficult to know whether to write it up as a victory or a defeat or even for whom. Comprehensive review and pointers to many other blogs can be found on the ever comprehensive Thinking Anglican blog. Blogs I have found helpful on this have included the Inclusive Church Blog and Anglican Scotist.

Opinion on the pro-LGBT side veers between the deepest depression and a kind of mindless optimism - I favour mindless optimism every time!

The short version is that the Anglcian Communion is going to stay together (for the time being at least) but that the US and Canadian branches will have to refrain from appointing openly gay partnered bishops and from publishing same sex blessing liturgies - though of course many existing bishops are gay (of course, how could it be otherwise?) and many relationships and Civil Partnerships are being blessed already.

Whether it's a victory or a defeat is, I suspect, less important than the fact that there is now a strong force within the Anglican Communion - including of course former Archbishop Tutu as well as his successor Archbishop Ndungane, and of course we know that while other countries in Africa may not be so positive, South Africa has already legislated for marriage equality.

There are other examples too, like the remarkable Lambda LGBT group at the American Cathedral in Paris (but part of the American Episcopal Church), or Changing Attitude in the UK and Nigeria, Inclusive Church, Affirming Catholicism and many other examples. Already in England (usually far behind other Provinces) we have Changing Attitude groups in many dioceses, includign my own of Southwell and Nottingham.

By the way I should say that the American Cathedral is a wonderful place, with absolutely beautiful worship and music. They had a special service last year following Pride (itself an amazing event with 800,000 people....) Suffice to say the bilingual service was incredibly moving with beautiful hymns and the use of a specially devised liturgy. It's a memory I don't think I'll ever forget.

In another parish I visited in England there were pictures of one of the couples of the parish having a blessing of their Civil Partnership, my own parish has adopted an equality statement which includes sexual orientation and other things like the message sent by the Baltic and Nordic Countries Deanery Synod to the Archbishop of Latvia - text here - in support of the Pride event in Riga and of the freedom of assembly in the face of some very unpleasant scenes.

It's a process and of course I would like it if it went a lot faster or was over before I arrived at the scene (even better). But alas it's not going to be like that and will take some time and the chance to dialogue about the meaning of sexuality for people who practice a religion, such as Christianity, and promote a more positive and inclusive view of things. To take a phrase from another context "Another world is possible" but probably not without a lot of work and a fair degree of patience.

As I said in a post somewhere else "The Chrch is on a journey - let's stay together".

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