My role involves speaking to a myriad of youth workers, church leaders and young people and a consistent theme of the conversations I have recently (at least 15 that spring to mind) are of young people being committed to faith, exploration but struggling with the church of England’s response to sexuality and in particular their treatment of people in loving, committed same sex relationships. So I was hopeful when I saw the arch bishop noting a rejection of same sex blessings will be seen by many as akin to racism
I was then disappointed to see the church of England’s pastoral announcement from the house of bishops on Valentines day
“The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church’s teaching in their lives.”
When I read the AbC I thought at last a leader with his ear to the ground, maybe he had heard the stories I had, like three young people refusing at the last minute to be confirmed as they would not aline themselves with an oppressive regime of the church, or the whole youth group who rejoiced over the women bishops but mourned over the coming death of the church that they saw coming due to its treatment of LGBT people.
Then there’s the committed core of a young outreach project wanting to get political at a major Christian youth festivals that they feel give one sided teaching on LGBT issues that excludes and hurts their friends, Christ and the church. These are some of the stories from within the Church of England regime, and that’s without the tens of thousands of young people for whom this simply continues to reinforce that the church is judgemental, unloving, critical and irrelevant. That is why I have used the word regime with all the negative connotations this word brings, because that is what issued the supposed pastoral statement a regime devoid of grace not the church, the bride of Christ full of love entering into relationship with the world and one another.