Sunday, June 15, 2008

UK Blessing Causing Quite the Buzz

From the Guardian:

The first gay "marriage" to be held in an Anglican church has reignited controversy over homosexual clergy and same sex civil partnerships.

The Reverend Peter Cowell and the Rev Dr David Lord exchanged vows at St Bartholomew the Great in the City of London last month.

Church of England guidelines say gay clergy can enter a civil partnership if they provide reassurance that they will abstain from sex.

Couples who ask a priest to bless their union must be dealt with "pastorally and sensitively" on an individual basis.

This is the first time a full ceremony has been held for a same sex couple...
You can find more links and discussion about this at The Lead and at Thinking Anglicans. Worth noting is a comment by the officiant, the Revd Dr Martin Dudley:

As the Rector of St Bartholomew the Great, who officiated at this service, I would like to add a little clarity to the story.

First, it was not a wedding or a marriage but the blessing of a civil partnership. Mr Wynne-Jones was well aware of this from his conversation with me today. If others construe it as a wedding, than they do so deliberately in order to ferment division.

Second, it was not and was intended to be a provocative act. It was not undertaken in defiance of the Bishop of London and there was no plea from him that I should not officiate at the service.

Third, we should remember that this service celebrated the love that the two persons involved have for each other. I officiated at it because Fr Peter Cowell has been my friend and colleague for many years. 300 people joined in the service; nearly 200 received communion, and there were dozens of other clergy present. It was not a rally or a demonstration. If other people want to turn into a loveless battlefield for the future of the Church of England, then it is they who will carry responsibility for the consequences.
But apparently that is not enough to stop some of the press and a few of the extremist Anglicans from acting like this is a big deal. For instance, here is a quote from Abp. Orombi of Uganda, a foreign Bishop who regularly makes unethical and illegal claims on North American congregations:

...The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was "blasphemous." He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to "disintegrate". Archbishop Orombi added: "What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us.

"The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching"...
If I were a congregation in the Church of England, I'd beware. It appears Abp. Orombi is now prowling your perimeter, seeking fat assessments to gobble up.

This story is really not "news." It was a blessing, not a wedding. And it is certainly not the "first" liturgy of its kind within the Anglican Communion, or the Church of England for that matter.

As we pointed out almost nine months ago, such liturgies are happening in Scotland, New Zealand and Canada. We also had this statement from our Presiding Bishop last January:

...The church has stated it will not officially authorise such services, but Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori admits they do take place.

"Those services are happening in various places, including in the Church of England, where my understanding is that there are far more of them happening than there are in the Episcopal Church," she said...
So why all the feigned shock about this particular liturgy at St. Bart's?

The extremists are getting ready for GAFCON, which begins in a few days. This is when they will launch their "alternative Communion." They have built this entire plot on the backs of gay Christians. So, to fan the flames, they alerted their media contacts of this latest incident, and presto! Instant outrage on the eve of their big shindig.

Keep in mind that if it wasn't their disdain for gay Christians, this band of rascals would have come up with something else to justify their attempted hostile takeover; the new prayer book, women's ordination, how some retired bishop interprets scripture, abortion, euthanasia, labyrinths, mandolins in church or cucumber sandwiches at coffee hour.

So, the media allowed themselves to be used as pawns in this little drama. How unfortunate. And how sad for the couple whose celebration has been tarnished by all this mud slinging.


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