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'
RADICAL INCLUSION PROJECT - PHASE B - CONTINGENCY PLANNING
In the first phase of the Radical Inclusion Project (Phase A) a short fact-finding survey sets out to clarify the views of 750 vicars and rectors of local churches.
After that, a time for prayer, reflection, conversation with others at church. There needs to be a respectful time for reflection for at least two reasons:
1. It is respectful to all participants in the 'Living in Love and Faith' process, that we afford 3 months to study what the released resources actually say.
2. In the current national crisis because of the coronavirus I very much believe, as a nurse, this is not the time to engage in contentious debate even over an issue of great conscience such as the way we honour and welcome the relationships of gay and lesbian people.
Therefore, the survey will be run later in the year than originally planned, and all participants will be informed of the numerical findings afterwards. Meanwhile, I will be happy to correspond or talk over the phone, but I'm sure we all recognise everything may need to be 'on hold' in the coming months because of the huge health issues all our communities are faced with.
In the autumn the bishops may meet to discuss what actions (if any) to take in response to LLF.
In that phase, it will be circumspect for local priests and churches perhaps to consider what needs to happen in response and, I'd argue, what contingencies to set in place, if no changes in doctrine and practice are proposed (with timeline) and if everything once again gets deferred into the future. At that point, parishes (individually and collectively) may want to reflect on best courses of action, in the specific contexts of their local communities and ministries.
Priests and communities may need to decide:
what in conscience should we do?
It will be clear from this website that priests and churches who recognise what harm is being done, and whose consciences tell them they have to be radically inclusive, may start to consider a possible response if no changes are set in motion by the bishops. This response - what might be termed 'Phase B' on the programme suggested here - may involve a 'contingency' period during the later parts of 2020, assessing the way the bishops respond to LLF and liaising with other like-minded churches to explore contingency options, and then from the outset of 2021 starting to build a 'de facto' counter-narrative in the actual practice and actual lived life of local church communities.
This may mean making a church's position plain and public on websites and in their surrounding communities, and could involve getting the (less easy to sanction) lay members (especially PCCs) to produce public statements of belief, including repudiation of the present Church position outlawing gay sexuality. That means deciding among yourselves - in your own communities - just how far you feel you should go on grounds of conscience, to 'come out' and be unashamed in your practice, to end all shame over gay and lesbian relationships.
And crucially, 'Phase B' implies networking, to plan the possible contingencies of collective action, because if change fails to come top-down, then it has to come from the grassroots up. Collective action could involve any one (or several) of the things outlined in 'Change at Local Church Level', but the important things will be solidarity and courage, driven by conscience to do what is right.
The reason collective action is so important is that individual priests who dissent are especially vulberable to being isolated and picked off, but if a network of 100s of churches co-ordinate and act together, then you have a Church-wide situation, in hundreds of communities, involving many thousands of people, and that also expands media coverage, parliamentary discourse, and fundamentally demonstrates that the Church - de facto - believes different things and in the life of its parishes repudiates the single conservative view claimed presently by officials as a uniformity.
Although our attention in the coming months will be rightly pre-occupied by the healthcare crisis and its very great challenges, feel very welcome and free to get in touch: but ALWAYS on the strict understanding that no priest's views, position or comments will be published or disclosed to anyone else without prior consent and authority. I have honoured my promise of confidentiality to the bishops in all my dialogues with 50 of them over the past 3 years, and I will honour your confidentiality and guard it as a fidelity. I have my own reputation and integrity to protect as a nurse. But I am happy to help facilitate discreet interaction.
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In all these things I would urge you to reflect on this:
The present Church position on gay and lesbian sexuality is gravely harmful, both to individuals and to the Church itself in the impact it has on public perception. Official Church spokespersons - in asserting a uniform position imposed on all - do not speak for the many church communities up and down the land who know in conscience it's time to - really, not only as slogan - radically include. Indeed it is likely that over half the Church now accepts gay and lesbian relationships, yet officially we are telling gay people they are wrong in God's eyes and should remain celibate all their lives. This is an untenable position and, frankly, a position that needs to be called out.
Sheer decency, compassion and conscience is telling more and more church communities that things must change, and that conscience needs to be exercised unashamedly. We have to stop shaming gay people, or compromising how we accept, value and celebrate their love and gift.
This is going to take courage, as all struggles for justice do, but if change will not come from the top then it has to come from below, and the serving heart of who the Church really is, in our communities, and our dedicated lives.
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 ~