Holy Trinity welcomes everyone
A week ago the House of Bishops issued a statement to clarify the difference between Civil Partnership and Marriage. The Bishops felt it necessary to emphasise that only a Marriage may receive a Service of Blessing in church – not a Civil Partnership.
Obviously, sex is a part of any such relationship, so the statement spoke at some length about sex. It said that God’s will for us is sex within the bounds a heterosexual marriage. Sex inside a Civil Partnership, or indeed any other long-term committed relationship, falls short.
Many people, but particularly those in committed same-sex relationships, have found that extremely hurtful. The church claims to welcome them as they are. But then it says they fall short of God’s ideal by being homosexual and having a sexual relationship – so removing any sense of welcome and acceptance.
A huge number of clergy, including some bishops, are dismayed by the statement. I count myself amongst them. The statement focuses on sex not love, on judgement not grace. It fails to recognise that we all fall far short of God’s will for us, whatever our marital state, whatever our sexuality. The truth is that God is bigger than the church. God’s grace is without limits – God accepts all of us, welcomes all who seek him/her.
Having thought this over for a week, I feel I need to make my position – and the position of Holy Trinity whilst I am its Rector – perfectly clear. Slightly adapting and shortening a statement issued this week by Southwark Cathedral …
‘Whilst I recognise the church’s teaching I will continue to support and encourage people who are entering loving, faithful and stable relationships of all kinds and joyfully celebrate their love for one another.
I believe that we are all loved by God regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, ability or sexuality and Holy Trinity Parish Church, Sutton Coldfield will continue to be a beacon of light and hope for all who feel excluded by the church.’