Sunday, 13 May 2012

Reason to 'Transfer' - a Surprise

There was quite a surprising conversation after the service today at Hull Unitarians. It's always good to investigate why the newest attender is coming along in terms of beliefs and attitudes, to a Unitarian church. An ex-Anglican, the stance is liberal Christian. Immediately that raises a question for me as to why there isn't space within for someone who even if liberal believes in God and the centrality of Jesus still in the C of E. The explanation was - even for a heterosexual - that it's the gay issue and the stance of the Church of England.

I'm surprised because I hadn't quite believed that this is what would cause someone to change denomination. So I said about the Church of England having its general position but sort of hedging its bets, unlike the Church of Ireland that has just made a decision to effectively exclude active gay relationship people. Although inactive in Anglicanism for a while, the transfer is to a denomination I said that wants to have equal marriage, though each congregation must decide for itself. Manchester Cross Street was the first to register but Liverpool Ullett Road has been the first to actually do the Civil Partnership. But it is not equality on offer, as the Partnership can now take place on religious premises but the actual partnership with the registrar has to be secular. The government is (or was) offering only civil marriage in a register office and not in religious premises. Unitarians formally want equality, thus to marry, but the Quakers are actually doing it in defiance of government, as they have done before.

Meanwhile we did a checklist for fun of beliefs. Yes, belief in resurrection. Bodily? Yes. Another asked if the body is reanimated at the point of death or its prime. Had assumed death but hadn't thought about that.

I said I did not believe in resurrection of any kind, nor was Jesus resurrected, but it was a belief at the time based around expectation: once he was dead he was either Messiah or nothing, and they still continued to celebrate the Jewish rituals with the spare place for Elijah and Messiah etc. I said it was a fast moving change of belief under this expectation among Jews and for Gentiles could only be a salvation type faith.

Meanwhile another new attender, not present last week, wanted to read the semi-biographical sermon of a long-standing member given last Sunday. I said it struck me as black and white, moving from a Baptist scenario where lack of belief in a second coming was an absence of faith through to an "intellectually superior" Unitarian position, whereas I could think of many theologies in between. But he said he did go to University, studied theology and did mention the largely Anglican make up of tutors who formally subscribed to creeds that they otherwise did not believe, presumably to meet expectations in the parishes.

I'm in the Unitarian orbit because I absolutely do not believe in particular doctrines. I said in our chat that, for me, God is an ideal but I use it so others can as they will. But fancy changing denomination because of sympathy with the gay issue. Surprising, and rather welcome of course.


June Butler said...

I suspect that person is not alone. Some believers do not wish to be part of a church that sustains even a wishy-washy form of bigotry against gays.

Anonymous said...

'But fancy changing denomination because of sympathy with the gay issue.'

It is rather surprising, but that's because you'd have expected someone who was so focused on that issue to have left the CofE a long time ago. I mean, what's changed? Why now? Yes, there may be an official stance against same-sex marriages, but hasn't there always been? Yet certain Anglicans in certain places have overcome those barriers.

I suppose there's a problem if you're extremely liberal but don't live in or near a more liberal parish; you might decide to worship in a more congenial church of another denomination. Evangelical Anglicans not living in or near an evangelical parish presumably have to make a similar decision.