It is more than a shame that Changing Attitude (CA) even needs to exist, in its support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (lgbt) people within Anglicanism. It strikes me as a body that speaks as officially and centrally as it can, as if right in the centre of Anglicanism, whereas of course it has been defending people pushed to the official margins for far too long.
It has pursued a goal of Anglican unity, on the basis at least that Anglicanism unified creates obligations of ethical behaviour on homophobic provinces. If these provinces were to go it alone, there would be no ethical obligation coming from a higher Anglican authority - so the argument goes. I question this: that a clearer Anglican message from an inclusive body would have attraction to some in these homophobic provinces, and the argument would be better made and an example of inclusiveness better available.
It also pursues a goal of Anglican orthodoxy too, that the same beliefs are claimed by lgbt people as everyone else, and so they should be treated the same. I question this too. Theological revision is need if there is to be inclusivity. Much mainline theology is simply too encouraging of authoritarian attitudes that have historically marginalised minorities who have not fitted or have irritated centres of religious power. The whole problem at the moment is that theological argument is being used to limit the ethical argument of inclusion and pastoral support, whereas the ethical argument should the theological argument. Unless, of course, there is a sleight of hand here, that something (say about a historic Jewish Jesus) is being called orthodoxy that is not.
Inclusion of lgbts in a one Anglican Communion would be a good aim, if it was realisable, rather than say aiming for a liberal Anglicanism that would more clearly include lgbt people in ministry and bless the stability of relationships. To me theological liberalism opens up theological questions to ethical scrutiny, and changes are indeed made in order that inclusion takes place.
An argument is that one Anglicanism reaches into hostile parts of Anglican provinces. However, it is States that persecute and imprison, and it may well make not a scrap of difference that an autonomous Anglican province carries on producing homophobic opinion anyway for the benefit of a homophobic or otherwise corrupted government. Better that an Anglicanism exists elsewhere that can ethically inform our government and others for State to State relationships regarding ethical behaviour. It may not have much effect either, but it might have some more, given where power is exerted.
Some points are made about the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), and specifically that that there has been a change of strategy on the part of organisers because some will want to attend both GAFCON in Jerusalem 2008 and Lambeth 2008. CA says that originally there was a boycott of Lambeth and these would meet separately. There is a focus here on many Nigerian bishops wanting to go to Lambeth, against the will of their Archbishop.
Well, on that, we shall see how the bishops obey their Archbishop or do otherwise. If there is a change, it is more significant that this GAFCON is different from Lambeth, and is a launch party. I would think that the more ambitious launch was always the one in mind.
GAFCON is not the same as Lambeth in another key respect too. GAFCON is clearly a believers fellowship gathering, whereas Lambeth 2008 is a Communion gathering. The latter emphasises bishops and dioceses, whereas GAFCON is about the believing fellowship that happens to have episcopal authority. GAFCON will launch a new Communion, but it will be decidedly more Reformed than Catholic: it will be entirely compatible with the pressure group Reform and even much of the Church Society. Thus the episcopal element is qualified (we usually think of this in terms of The Episcopal Church, if in a different manner), though the authoritarian element of bishop power will show itself in terms of disciplining beliefs and behaviour (as it does in some House Churches with Elders wielding some big sticks).
GAFCON has to be clerical and lay if only because Chris Sugden has to be present, and he is main driver of the event, along with Bishops Martyn Minns and David Anderson. It would still be all clerical and lay, however, because of not limiting the range of core personalities who will be involved in making organisation and structure afterwards.
I don't understand Changing Attitude's almost Fawning Attitude to the Lambeth Conference. Is it not now rather flawed?
The Advent Letter was a deeply depressing production that is the agenda of the Lambeth Conference, as tight and narrow as GAFCON would have, if they believed that the Canterbury Communion would follow it. Changing Attitude surely does not believe that Lambeth 1998 1:10 is the Mind of the Communion and that it is the one way to read the Bible in accordance with local (national) Churches expectations of other local Churches in order to preserve the monopolies of each, and that the Communion should produce a Covenant to centralise power and marginalise those Churches who, presumably, would read the Bible more in accordance with the interpretations of Changing Attitude?
The Advent Letter sold Changing Attitude, Inclusive Church and Integrity (UK) down the river. It sacrificed people in order to try to hold an institution together. I would not fawn such a gathering: I'd lay into it, as it stands. The Advent Letter was desperate stuff in the face of people who were going to do their own thing anyway.
Changing Attitude now needs to change its attitude. This Conference is going to happen, an it is going to make a launch. The organisation/ structures that follow will grab some provinces and a minority of Anglican institutions. Some bishops may be missing at Lambeth, but the two English ones may well attend both (most likely?). If they do, they will be trying to lay down terms for an 'orthodox' in the canterbury Communion, but not expecting much to happen fast. They may of course make other decisions regarding organisation and place, but my guess is that any CAUK or CAWE will be headed by Chris Sugden and they will stay on this side, at least for the time being.
These two and their ministering to gay clergy is not going to alter, so it is hardly a main issue for the future of the Communions. What is at issue for the future is on which team they are batting, and, if they are still batting in the Canterbury Communion, whether they break the bats before they face more bowling.
Changing Attitude is living in a hope that the same will carry on, and that the one big thing can be made inclusive. It won't and it can't. This much we do know now.
Where to Meet LBGT People - LGBT people are in the minority, so some people worry about being able to meet other people. Being a part of the LGBT community can really help individuals...