RADICAL INCLUSION .CO.UK
please do not erase our lives, our love, and precious parts of who we are
'Life shrinks or expands, in proportion to one's courage'
CHANGE AT LOCAL CHURCH LEVEL
If the bishops do not respond to the LLF resources with a decision for changes on doctrine and practice in the Church of England, with regard to human sexuality - and a timetable for its implementation - then it may fall to local church communities to initiate change from the grassroots of the Church upwards, on grounds of conscience and basic decency, and because there is a very present reality of harm being done by the Church's present policies.
What form could grassroots change take, to radically include gay and lesbian people and their relationships, and to affirm them?
Already happening in many places:
--> Discreet and private blessing of relationships (whether civil partnership or marriage) and full inclusion in the life and roles and service of the local church.
That's the least an Inclusive Church might be expected to do. However, in itself, this does not change the top-down reality that in the Church of which they're a part, and formally in their own local church, they uphold an institutional position that says gay or lesbian sexuality is wrong. In the nation at large, this causes so much offence and damages the gospel message being received. And if local blessing is restricted to the hidden, the private or the discreet, it continues to erase full status and dignity, and public and unashamed celebration of relationships; and instead offers compromise, denying gay couples the right of others to openly and communally to commit before God, and church community, and families... sharing in open joy as they are openly blessed and affirmed 'because they belong' in a community that refuses to be ashamed.
What other forms could grassroots change take?
--> A written statement, published visibly online, signed by the incumbent and PCC, repudiating official church teaching on this issue, even if the local church still (technically) complies with it.
--> A written statement, where the priest and other clergy abstain, but the PCC (in their freedom as lay people) repudiate official church teaching, even if the local church still (technically) complies with it.
--> A form of notice in church service, equivalent to banns of marriage, which is read out in the weeks prior to a gay or lesbian civil wedding or civil partnership, to signal inclusion, and to counteract the exclusion that can be felt each time heterosexual couples get that lovely and joyful affirmation and expectation in church, but lesbian and gay couples don't.
--> A service somewhere else, or on ground just outside church property in good weather (on an adjacent green, with procession there from the church), organised and carried out by the PCC, and either celebrated with a blessing by a visiting priest, or simply celebrated by lay members. The civil and legal piece of paper could be obtained in advance, and the service could still take the form and much of the wording of a normal service, so as to be a form of wedding in all but name (or indeed, it could be named as such). Publicity could be organised online, with lovely photos, if ownership and moderation of Facebook page was acquired by the PCC, outside of the (discreetly supporting) priest's control.
--> Networking with other priests and churches to collectively state their beliefs and hopes for change.
--> Networking as above, and collectively setting a date after which all signed up churches say they will begin publicly blessing gay and lesbian relationships (including retrospective blessings) with PCC backing for the priest, so church authorities are clear that if they tried to intervene they would be taking on the whole church community and not just an individual.
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In these ways, the reality of belief as it exists in the Church of England - that a huge number of Anglicans affirm gay and lesbian relationships - would become an increasingly 'de facto' reality in the life of the Church, in a new narrative from the grassroots up.
This in turn may persuade bishops that doing nothing is no longer possible, and that respect for conscience (including conservative conscience) is the only viable next step.
Two parallel sites have been created:
radicalinclusion.co.uk - the site you are visiting right now - is the more 'in depth' version if you have time to read it
radicalinclusion.uk is the 'quick read' version if you want a shorter summary of main points
~ click on any of the links below for 'quick read' versions of these pages ~