Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Day I Said Goodbye to the Church of England

If you think this blog is about the rejection of women bishops, it's not... but it is mentioned at the end.

Those of you who know me or have followed me for the past couple of years, will know that I was a Christian, a proud member of a small Anglican Church, and also took services from time to time as a worship leader. You will also know that I am a fervent believer in marriage equality. Oh yes, and also a theology graduate.

I have never made an apology for having a committed faith. Even in the face of the ludicrous corruption of Christianity coming from Fundamentalists in America.... such as the Kansas-based pastor who thought homosexuals should be put to death and the North Carolina pastor who promotes hitting gay children, my faith has not wavered. You see, I had an amazing inclusive priest, who welcomed everyone: straight/gay, black/white and traveller/resident. He was an embodiment of the commandment,  ‘Love your neighbour as yourself... Not just those who toed the line. My priest, Andrew, was the first person I came out to. I thought, stupidly, that the Church of England was like him, rather smugly thought it was more evolved than some (not all) denominations.

Sadly times change. Over the past year I have become increasingly distressed at the language and attitude coming from the UK Churches regarding an equal marriage consultation. Initially I thought it was just the Catholic Church, describing gay marriage as a grotesque subversion. But no, the Anglican Bishops had their own delightful take. The outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, described gay marriage as an unwanted change on the nation, and according to the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, Britain risks going the way of Nazi Germany as a result of gay marriage.

It took me months to break, but finally I realised I couldn't stay part of an institution that did not love all neighbours. I thought about staying to become part of the lobby groups such as Inclusive Church. But honestly, I don't have the energy any more. I contacted my new priest and my church and told them I was leaving. I had discussed my concerns with my priest before so she wasn't surprised. Members of my church have contacted me to tell me how impressed they are that I am willing to stand up for a principle I believe in. Do I think they agree with me? Probably not. But they were willing to talk about it, and listen to me.

I feel bereft and lost without my church. It was more than just a Sunday service. I will find a place to worship again. I'm just not sure where.

This week, the general synod of the Church of England voted against the appointment of women as bishops.The measure was passed by the synod's houses of bishops and clergy but was rejected by the House of Laity. I believe in equality so I'm not going to be on the side of the poor men and women who can't cope with *shock, horror* women being in charge of them.

I have a suggestion for these poor souls. If you want to belong to a patriarchal church that is run by elderly men removed from the world, the Catholic Church is ready and waiting for you. How about churches that seek to control women and children in order to deal with their own impotence at not controlling the world - join the Fundamentalists.

Equality will come, have no doubt about it. Just sadly not quickly enough for me to stay with my church.

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