An Announcement

We had a fabulous service this morning in St Mary’s. The place was full of people, good preaching, gorgeous music (Haydn’s Little Organ Mass with organ, full choir and strings) and a glorious time was had by all. We ran out of service books and consecrated hosts (again).

At the end of the service, I made the following announcement:

“I have been giving much thought as to how we should mark the Lambeth Conference this summer. All the duly consecrated bishops of the Anglican Communion have been invited to Canterbury for a conference with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Well, all bar one – the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the first bishop to acknowledge that he is living in a gay relationship will not be there as he has not been invited.

I have been invited several time to go to Lambeth, to campaign and wave banners and speak and generally campaign. I have decided not to do this. We must simply be who we are.

However, that has left me wondering how we can mark this Conference at St Mary’s. My response to this consists of 4 events:

Firstly, Bishop Idris has kindly agreed to meet with members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans) group which meet here at this Cathedral.

Secondly, The Most Rev Fred Hiltz, the Primate of All Canada has agreed to come and to preach here at St Mary’s on the Sunday before the Lambeth Conference (13 July 2008).

Thirdly, on the same day, those bishops who will be enjoying the hospitality of the Diocese will be invited here for Evensong. This will be an opportunity to greet them, pray with them and send them on their way to Lambeth with all our best wishes and goodwill.

Finally, it seems to me to be desirable to have someone at the end of the conference to come and preach to us. But who would the best person to have be? After all, all the bishops of Communion will be busy with Rowan Williams in Canterbury at the Conference. Well, all bar one. I’m delighted to announce that the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire has agreed to come and celebrate the Eucharist and to preach the gospel on 3 August 2008 at 1030 here in St Mary’s.

I have met Bishop Gene, prayed with him and heard him preach. He is well worth hearing and I invite you all to bring your friends along on that Sunday to hear him.

Further details will be announced in due course.”

Comments

  1. I wish we could hear the congregation’s reaction.

    Well done.

  2. Good on you! This will not be the first time an American cleric will be able to do in Scotland something he was unable to accomplish in England. I find it difficult not to envision the first American bishop, Samuel Seabury, enjoying a quiet chuckle somewhere in the Choir Celestial.

  3. Good witness. I suspect that your message of welcome will be heard much further than just the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway.

  4. Brilliant!

  5. Èlizabeth says:

    The reaction from this member of the congregation was a stifled wail of dismay as she realised she’ll be out of the country on the great day!

  6. Lapinbizarre says:

    Excellent. Thanks and congratulations.

  7. Ryan Dunne says:

    Congratulations on this announcement Kelvin, I’ll certainly be attending.

  8. Doug says:

    as I commented on wonderfulexchange – I’ll be at the opening day of the the PYN youth week at Glenalmond college!

    I think my brother is thinking about coming down though! I’ll be sure to let you know if he is

  9. Following on from Elizabeth’s comments – this member of the congregation is glad he will be around for the 13 July services, but like Elizabeth dismayed as he will also be out of the country for the visit of Gene Robinson.

  10. Marion Conn says:

    That’s brilliant Kelvin, looking forward to hearing Gene Robinson.

  11. Kelvin, you know me and know (I think) that as a rule I never listen to sermons, even ones preached by illustrious preachers such as yourself (apparently, since I don’t listen!) but I would have actually turned up for this one, except it’s the inaugural rehearsal weekend for the Royal School of Church Music Scottish Singers choir. So I’ll be in Perthshire singing.

    Good effort to get the man into the cathedral though. Perhaps the highest profile preacher since the Grand Tufti’s predecessor, Robert Runcie, was here in about 1982. One of the first services in the cathedral in which I sang in the choir. I don’t remember his sermon, I didn’t listen, but I seem to remember lining up outside the west door just before the service and being heckled loudly from Great Western Road by Pastor Jack Glass, the famous bigot, who was shouting about popery. I forget whether he thought it was a good thing or not 🙂

    Hopefully Gene will not be subject to such levels of bigotry and vitriol. Oh, wait, perhaps he already has!

  12. God bless you and your church!

  13. james murray says:

    Perhaps there is nothing more bigoted than a liberal who disdains any Scriptural integrity. Gene Robinson’s stance not only defies the whole tradition of the Church but shows a ready contempt for the Word, incarnated in our Lord. Does he really believe that his claim to pastoral insight is blessed by the Holy Spirit? Fluent preacher he may well be but he and those who sympathise with him are now persecuting good and holy men and women for daring to disagree with them. How can a cathedral dedicated to our Lady herself rejoice in such a travesty of the truth of the Gospel?

  14. I often fancy that I can hear Our Lady joining in with the Magnificat on a Sunday evening.

    Last night, she seemed to be singing along with Brewer in D with not inconsiderable gusto.

  15. Now that sounds worthy of a trip up from the Borders. You shall see us there.

  16. Robin says:

    James Murray wrote:

    > Fluent preacher he may well be but he and those who sympathise with him are now persecuting good and holy men and women for daring to disagree with them. <

    Persecuting them? How, exactly?

  17. This is maybe why your church is full on Sundays and mine is comparatively few in numbers? Not that +Gene would come to sunny Dumbarton anyway! Maybe not all of us, though, in the Diocese, are happy bunnies today. Why now, Kelvin? It is not going to go un-noticed at Lambeth that +Gene has been invited by a Cathedral in our Province. But, I suppose that’s your point?

  18. +Gene is invited to preach the gospel, celebrate the sacrament, encourage the faithful and reach out to the world at large. (Keeping faith with the various ordination and consecration vows that has has made, in other words).

    He will be with us on that particular date because he happens to be in the country at the time.

  19. Robin says:

    > It is not going to go un-noticed at Lambeth that +Gene has been invited by a Cathedral in our Province. <

    Good!!!!

  20. David |daveed| says:

    ¡Felicidades a todos! That is a very thrilling report. I have never experienced a service with +Gene in person, but have been more than edified by video. The Lord will bless you all greatly in that service.

    Perhaps more than just an Evensong, Our Lady shall join your choir with a great host of the cloud of witnesses that day.

    Does +Gene actually get to be a bishop in your province? It is said that the Archbishop of Canterbury has deined to grant that +Mary Gray-Reeves, Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of El Camino Real (California, USA) may preach and celebrate while she is in England for the Lambeth Conference with the proviso that she not vest as a bishop with her miter.

  21. OK. I’ll go back to writing about Partick Thistle. I’m obviously so out of touch.

  22. David, all bishops get to be bishops in Scotland.

    Women bishops are not allowed to function as bishops in the Church of England because the C of E has not (yet) seen fit to consecrate women. In Scotland, we believe that both men and women can be bishops, though we haven’t yet had the chance to elect a woman.

    Kenny — another way to play this is to say it is unremarkable. Many foreign bishops will be preaching here this summer. The bishop of New Hampshire is just another one. Kelvin’s triumph in offering him an altar this summer is to make it clear that +Gene Robinson is not a ’cause’ or a symbol of provocation, but a bishop of the church who is welcome among us.

  23. carlos iradier says:

    Reflecting on the range of views within the church over gay rights, as well as the way in which one side of the debate never misses an opportunity to rub the other side’s nose in it, I am regretfully driven to the conclusion that God cannot possbly exist because if he did so, he would surely have made his will on this issue more clearly known to his followers. So thanks very much “+Gene” and others involved in the debate for inadvertently leading me to enlightenment.

  24. Good going – I’m now seriously wondering if I can be in the area that evening.

  25. David |daveed| says:

    Kenny, if you had the opportunity to make your way to St. Mary’s on 3 AUG, you would encounter a truly humble individual dedicated to his calling, genuinely in love with the Church and her constituents, preaching the Gospel that represents a Table of Extravagant Grace available to one and all.

    Had the +ABC handled things much differently, I believe that +Gene would have done all within his power to have “blended in” at Lambeth. Even those who are some of his biggest detractors in TEC House of Bishops remark how he goes out of his way to reach out to them, to genuinely listen to their positions and do all he can to allow them to feel comfortable when around him.

    However, Kelvin, this is not lost on most progressive blogs in North America that the Scottish Church is again embracing an American whom the CoE has tossed aside. Perhaps +Samuel Seabury will add his voice with Our Lady to the Choir 3 AUG!

  26. It seems as if +Gene is the only bishop to be invited to preach AND celebrate at St Mary’s! Kimberly is right on one level, it’s unremarkable to have a foreign bishop to preach at our Cathedral. Why then is it causing so many remarks? We know the answer to that!

    My own blog sets out my own position, but you have to wade through the Partick Thistle stuff. You see, I, too am part of a minority of people who are discriminated against! It’s not so painful, though.

    My only real question is, “Why now?” I stand by it!

  27. Rosemary says:

    I am always reminded of the furore when Wesley first allowed women to preach – another ‘unbiblical’ decision at first glance. He simply found that as they could preach the gospel, it was plain the Spirit was leading them. QED methinks.

  28. Melissa says:

    The thing I find compelling about St. Mary’s is the sense that the kingdom of God will come, that the kingdom of God ‘breaks out’ in the world as well in our lives, and that, as on last Christmas midnight mass when we were all packed in and everything was glorious, God is with us.

    I fear that this might be another time like that, and our family will be out of the country.

    You are going to have to figure out a way to make it up to the red head on the front row. Imagine, 70 or 80 years down the road, she could have been saying, ‘I saw the kingdom of God that day.’

  29. Eugene says:

    Despite comments to the contrary there is a feeling that there could be a rift between the Anglicans and the Episcopal Church. These two churches should both be united in their wish to bring about a revival of christianity and christian values.

    As a newcomer to the church I don’t like the thought of schism between these two great branches of christianity.

  30. Alan says:

    I rather get the feeling that the invitation has been extended for the wrong reasons and that it will not help either the unity of the Anglican Communion or our relationships with other churches. There is a time and a place for being provocative but I do not believe that this is one of them.

  31. Laurence Roberts says:

    Congratulations ! / Llongyfarchiadau !

    I feel very encouraged by this wonderful news — & I don’t even live in Scotland !

    Glasgow is well named ! — dear green (place)

    I feel the Greening of my soul !

  32. Zebadee says:

    Kelvin You have our total support and backing

  33. Alan said: “There is a time and a place for being provocative but I do not believe that this is one of them.”

    I’d contend that it’s always time to be provocative!

  34. Kenny said earlier: “It seems as if +Gene is the only bishop to be invited to preach AND celebrate at St Mary’s!”

    Not so. Other bishops from furth of these shores (both North American and Nigerian) have been asked to preach and/or celebrate in St Mary’s by me. Not everyone who is invited to celebrate choses to take up the offer.

    I think it is the case that St Mary’s has given hospitality to more African bishops in the last year than any other bishops, but I would have to look at past rotas and diaries to be absolutely sure.

  35. I’m sure this is true, Kelvin, and I don’t doubt open invitations to all sorts of folk. We are a very welcoming city, after all. It’s the timing I was doubting as being wise. No doubt the Canadian Primate is preaching at Evensong, and that is why he is not celebrating?

  36. Paul says:

    I am delighted that Gene is coming to preach here in Glasgow! God’s kingdom belongs to everyone, but as someone once said – The last shall be first and the first, last. Shame, shame, shame on Rowan for not inviting Gene to Lambeth. His, and the Conference’s loss, our joyous gain.
    In responce to James Murray’s post: If the words and actions of good and holy people are not responding to the needs of each human person and to the inclusive Kingdom of God that is breaking through within and around us; then, how exactly can there ‘holiness’ not be challenged? Holiness should be synonomous with radical, compassionate, unapologeitc love of all and not with follwing rules and dogmas unquestionally even though they may have no appreciation of the human condition.

    Okay, rant over…sorry. I’m tired; but still really pleased about Gene coming to St Mary’s!

  37. Frank Wirrell says:

    I am astounded that you would invite Gene Robinson in view of his attitude toward the authority of Scripture. We do not bless adultery and we do not belss pedophelia because it is contrary to God’s Word. So is homosexual activity whether monogamous or otherwise. This is NOT discrimination as we are all sinners and called to repentence. We are not called to rejoice in our sin and thus “spit in God’s face”.

    With your attitude, the Anglican Communion cannot possibly hold together as a church of Christ. We are not called to promote “political correctness” but we are called to repentence.

  38. Loge says:

    I was both thrilled – really excited – when directed to this website/blog and immensely proud to be a Scottish Episcopalian. At a time when the American Episcopal Church is suffering attacks both internally and externally – often for its pastoral support for those cast out and rejected by elements within both society and various church traditions it is greatly heartening to see this act of solidarity. And not least for the support it gives to Bishop Robinson in the face of the terrible decision by Rowan Williams not to invite him – and him alone – to Lambeth.

    Thank you for extending this invitation, which will be taken as a sign of the welcoming and inclusive ethos of the SEC by many progressives and pluralists. And, of course, it has to be now: “If not now, when?”

  39. Kenny – My memory is that the Canadian Primate will be at the 10:30 Eucharist, with a number of bishops at the 18:30 Evensong. Kelvin will no doubt clarify

  40. Quite right Stewart.

    And I repeat that not everyone who has been invited to celebrate in St Mary’s has taken up the offer but I will not be spelling out who has been invited to do what.

  41. I believe that +Gene will be in Edinburgh after his visit to you over ‘on the other side’. He will be speaking at the Festival of Spirituality and Peace at St John’s Church, Princes Street. And he may even be in a certain church presiding at mass later that week.

    As Kelvin said, while he’s in the country…

  42. That’s a point. Wondering, any chance the sermon and/or service could be recorded? 🙂

  43. Yes Tim, I will be asking +Gene whether he would mind the service (or at least his sermon) being recorded.

  44. Rosemary says:

    The thing is, we vastly oversimplify our attitude to scripture. I HAVE met a few purists, who do hold to the non-speaking women with heads covered who may not teach males who are past puberty – which is the standard that the letters to Timothy teach. But they are few in number. Most of the rest of us actually accept that much scripture is directed at one time and one place, and that the authority of it is (as Luther so firmly believed) weighted, so that some passages have more authority than others.

    The NT condemnation of homosexuality comes against the context of a society where men and women were married without it being a question of choice in the way we understand choice today. Expectation was an iron rod, and we all know of those young Christian women who chose desperate paths to escape a marriage they dreaded. In this society virtually all homosexuality was, ipso facto, adultery. There was no concept and no possibility of a consenting partnership of same sex individuals.

    And there is no scriptural voice against paedophilia. Young Roman girls, peri puberty, were frequently forced into marriage. A Roman paedophile had no difficulties. And it is possible to see the prohibition of homosexuality in the early Christian world as being directed against the forcing of young boy salves into their master’s bed, will they nil they. Because in the Roman world that was what homosexuality frequently meant.

    The past is truly another country, we do well to attempt to understand its strangeness before we speak from the base of all its mores.

  45. John D. Cook says:

    God bless you all. This conversation has been an eye opener for me. I thought (hoped?) it was just us here in the ECUSA but no, the entire Anglican community seems to be splitting over this. Alot of people here seem to be taken in by poor, persecuted +Gene. This is a leader? Someone our children should look up to and strive to be like? How many of you know anything about him besides he’s gay? I am heart broken at what this is doing to our Church, and while I would never condone excluding anyone from His worship, I can’t accept a person who left a wife and two pre-teen daughters for another man as my spiritual and moral leader. When you add the other leadership issues his election has brought it leaves a sour taste. I pray our communion continues and I pray for Bishop Rowan in his efforts to maintain this and if +Gene needs to sit on the sidelines to help in this effort he should do it. Instead, he will be over there letting everyone know he wasn’t invited it. This is a leader?

    In my humble opinion, this does not compare to question of women in the clergy. Apples and oranges. I don’t know what the stink is over women. As a man though, I do know it’s my job to provide an example for my son to follow. Our church had always done a good job of that too in picking it’s leaders, men and women, until recently.

    In answer to Robin as to who is being persecuted. There are over a hundred congregations here in my country and in Canada that are fighting to remain part of the Anglican Communion while the ECUSA throws us out of our Churches. While churches sit empty people like me and thousands of others worship Him in theaters and shopping malls. I hope while +Gene is there he explains why it’s so important that he push this issue at this time. I have to wonder which is higher in priority – the strength of our communion or his agenda. I also have to wonder if this is selfless or selfish. If we are to be truly progressive we have to find a way to pray and understand each other and we will never do this the way we are doing it.

    I hope you will forgive me here for rambling on. I just find it hard to accept that people will go out of there way to disparage poor Kenny while at the same time praising someone they know nothing more about than he’s a gay American Bishop.

  46. Thank you for your comment John.

    Gene Robinson did not leave his wife for his male partner. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3208586.stm). There does seem to be something of a irony in your saying that people here know nothing about Gene Robinson whilst at the same time repeating something about him which is not true.

    Also, those who comment here are not all local.

  47. Rosemary says:

    More than that – let us hypothesise a straight bishop who had, in the past, caused the breakup of his marriage through unwise or downright wrong behaviour. Would it cause this degree of rumpus? No. The debate would be over the matter of forgiveness.

    The fact of this matter is that the debate is not over the propriety of the election of one man (if it were the rift would be easily healed) the debate is over the role of gay people in our church. That is why the issue is so deeply felt. Were the Anglican communion to declare that it could never accept a divorced bishop who was now in a new relationship, it would be one thing. But what is being forbidden is all same sex relationships, no matter how committed, how loving, how life enhancing.

    Those of us who, like me, have fought for full and equal acceptance of same sex relationships all our lives have seen, too often the damage done by trying to force gay people into a straight – well a straight jacket. Gene Robinson’s life was quite plainly de railed by this – so have many others been, some dear friends, some who finally broke free and found happiness, and some who did not.

    Trust me, those on the side of the debate who support Gene Robinson are doing so because of concern for the wholeness of life of those who are currently forced to live a lie or to face opprobrium. Wrecked lives is something is is particularly hard for a Christian to compromise over.

  48. Robin says:

    > In answer to Robin as to who is being persecuted. There are over a hundred congregations here in my country and in Canada that are fighting to remain part of the Anglican Communion while the ECUSA throws us out of our Churches.

    But nobody made you leave your churches! They still have valid sacraments and valid priests, just as they always did. Nothing has changed. To say otherwise would be Donatism, and a contradiction of Article 26 of the 39 Articles (“Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the Effect of the Sacraments”). Leaving the churches and worshipping in theatres, etc, was your own free choice, not any kind of persecution.

    > I hope while +Gene is there he explains why it’s so important that he push this issue at this time. I have to wonder which is higher in priority – the strength of our communion or his agenda. I also have to wonder if this is selfless or selfish. If we are to be truly progressive we have to find a way to pray and understand each other and we will never do this the way we are doing it.

    Why was it important for Rosa Parks to sit at the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on 1 December 1955? Was her action selfless or selfish? Which was higher in priority for her – the strength of the Union or her agenda?

    Wasn’t it just a simple, clear, urgent and overwhelming matter of justice?

  49. “He will be with us on that particular date because he happens to be in the country at the time.”

    Hi Kelvin! To me it seems that the above implies a certain nonchalance or coincidence about the arrangement, and this seems to add a layer of ambiguity to your initial announcement. Is this a bit of backtracking? Or is all church politics necessarily marked with such ambiguity, to protect the hides of those with the temerity to disagree with the authorities?

    Let’s not veil this with suggestions that he is merely a passer-by to whom we are extending a hand of Christian welcome, or a handy “+”.

    To invite him to preach the gospel (that is, the very heart of everything that we are as Christians) is to make an aggressive political statement. Like it or not, he is not just a random +, he is a political figurehead, therefore wherever he is engaged in an official capacity, it becomes a political statement.

    So what exactly is the statement being made? I know there will be plenty of people who are hurt by what they think you might be saying by inviting this controversial figure to preach the gospel. So your clarification of what you think are the rights and wrongs in this matter would be appreciated.

  50. Beat – thanks for your comments.

    What I said was meant to be understood in the simplest way possible. When I originally invited +Gene to preach in Glasgow, I did so without a specific date in mind. The date that was chosen fits in with his diary and is a date I was delighted to confirm as it will allow us to reflect on the Lambeth Conference which will by then almost be over. +Gene has commitments to other events (some of them in Episcopal churches) in Scotland at that time.

    Thus, he will indeed be with us on that date because he happens to be in the country at that time. I think that it is important that people get to hear +Gene’s own reflections rather than simply hear the things that are said about him.

    He is a good preacher and has been invited to preach the Good News.

  51. Thanks for the reply and the clarification Kelvin.

    I’m just wondering whether enough consideration has been taken with regards to the negative effects on surrounding churches that it has, to choose such a controversial figure.

    I could understand that to invite him to share his reflections on his situation might be beneficial in the interests of discussion, but surely asking him to come and *preach* suggests that you accord him with certain rights that the church authorities do not? If the purpose is to share the Good News, surely the severity of this conflict can only serve to distract from that News at best, or subvert it for political purposes at worst.

    I just get the feeling that it’s being vaunted as “no big deal” when in fact it really *is*. Surely there are plenty of good preachers, (with or without mathematical signs before their names) whose infamy is not likely to distract from the importance of their message?

  52. >asking him to come and *preach* suggests that you accord him with certain rights…

    +Gene is bishop in good standing in his church, a church with which the Scottish Episcopal Church is in full communion. He has the same status whilst in Scotland as any other bishop from the Communion. The question of rights does not really come into it.

    Sacramentally speaking, every time we share communion in the SEC, we share it with those with whom we are in communion whether they are present or not and whether we agree with them or not.

  53. gail says:

    As a regular and longstanding member of S Mary’s congregation, I, my husband and many others are very pleased that Kelvin has extended this invitation to +Gene – and that +Gene has accepted.
    The Bible as we have received it seems to indicate consistently that Christ Himself accepted others as they were – including under a fig tree or taken in adultery. He did not insist they talked the right talk, or walked the right walk before He would relate to them. Such humility and acceptance of the other seems appropriate. Who do I think I am to sit in self-righteous judgement ? ‘Gayness’ is not a personal choice of lifestyle but a very very difficult fact which individuals involved have to wrestle with before being at all able to accept. That some are also Christians is a cause for rejoicing. That some of these are also then chosen and inspired to be leaders who point carefully and meekly to Christ is amazing.
    It seems to me, from the standpoint of my simple faith, that Our Venerable Leaders would do well to sit in equal humility at the feet of Him who set the ball rolling in the first place…….

  54. Ryan Dunne says:

    B –

    St.Silas has had African Bishops speak and denounce homosexuality; should they have been prevented from doing so as, in this climate, extending such an invite is inescapably political? This never occured to me nor did the idea that they were being invited primarily to wind up liberals.

    The world, happily, does not revolve around evangelicals :-).

  55. Hi Ryan. In a sense I see your point (see my big facebook email reply BTW mate). It’s not something you can say categorically or legalistically “you cannot invite this guy to speak”. It’s a free country, and as Kelvin indicates, they are free to invite him in that sense.

    All I mean is that there is a significant tension in the AC at the moment, and circumstances have meant that it centres around +Gene. So to invite him to speak brings that battle right to our doorstep. Is this a suitable time to have that (very public) disagreement? Is the forum of blogs, sermons, newspaper articles and gossip the ideal location for this issue to be played out?

    Or is it just there to shake things up? To draw things to a head. I suggest that it is not innocuous, it is incendiary.

    To say “the world, happily, does not revolve around evangelicals” betrays a lack of concern for the feelings of those same evangelicals who are your spiritual family. And that is what I suspect is the statement being made here.

    Can I draw a parallel:

    Bob’s parents are talking about splitting up. The reason is that Bob’s dad is in love with another woman, Anne. He is not happy in his marriage, but they are still married. How would Bob’s mum feel if Bob’s dad invited this other woman round for coffee? Just for a chat? Maybe to do dinner and watch a movie with the family?

    Of course, if there is an issue here Bob’s mum and Dad need to sit down with a counsellor. Maybe they both need to speak to this other woman, and understand where the situation has arisen from. But those circumstances should be controlled. It is appalling to think of Bob’s dad saying “oh, by the way honey, Anne is coming over tonight for dinner. Thought I’d let you know”.

    Yes, I admit that parallel is limited, but do you see how it shows certain disrespect?

    Now the point you make about other bishops denouncing homosexuality at evangelical churches… These bishops are *not* the “bishop in question”. Their presence is not surrounded with the same political electricity. People can hear them and evaluate them without the distraction of their political position.

    Would the French be bothered by a political commentator in the Times opinion column who makes a generalisation about surrendering or frogs’ legs or something? Probably not. But if the prime minister of Great Britain wrote it? Front page headlines all over Europe…Politics blows things out of proportion.

    I don’t care if an authoritative speaker addresses a congregation on a matter that I don’t subscribe to. It is their right, and I might challenge it if this speaker came to my church. But +Gene is the third rail. You can’t create an environment that encourages good discussion over a dispute such as homosexuality when you bring in such a controversial figure. All this indicates to me is that certain people desire a war rather than brotherly diplomacy.

    You know, I really love discussion. I love to hear other people’s points of view and I love that we can minister to and educate one another. (Ryan, I know that you and I disagree on many things, but I love that we can respect each other as friends despite that, and work towards greater understanding).

    Gail, I’d love to chat to you some more about the points you’ve brought up about The Whole Gay Thing, but it’s not possible in a thread about +Gene…which is kind of my point.

    Kelvin, don’t you think that inviting +Gene himself is only going to create heat in a situation that is strongly in need of light? I’d urge, at the very least, a reconsideration of the format as a sign of consideration to your evangelical brethren.

  56. Rosemary says:

    It’s a funny thing, but the concessions asked for are nearly all asked from the side who support the equal rights of gay people within the church, and those who in all good conscience seem to fail to see the pain that we on our liberal side feel.

    And so so often the cry is the same: ‘Let’s talk about homosexuality, but lets not hear those who are homosexual speak.’ Let me direct you back to the top – the very person who you would think actually has something to important to say on the issue is not going to be at Lambeth saying it, because many there do not want to hear him speak. We are asked to respect their pain. Sure, I respect it. And what about us? Our pain?

    Well my pain on this issue is deep and lasting – and I’m not even gay. And I really do not find those debating with me hearing either my pain – and to be honest, SOME of them do not hear my integrity.

  57. Rosemary says:

    p.s the marriage analogy does not hold at any point. The church on both sides belongs to Christ, and neither side is leaving him for another. The liberals are not leaving the church at all, although some in the church no longer want them there, it seems. We are not remotely in love with Gene Robinson. A better analogy would be that Bob was threatening to leave because his wife, while straight herself, had a lesbian friend she wanted to invite to the house, and because of this Bob was threatening to leave home. The wife, meanwhile, was happy to entertain Bob’s friends, although they were homophobic. That is a far better analogy.

  58. Rosemary says:

    In fact, to make the analogy correct, we must say that Bob is asking his wife to leave home because she has asked her lesbian freind round for dinner.

  59. Hi Rosemary, I think that we are talking about different things here. My analogy was not so useful because it implied a certain guilt or unfaithfulness on the part of the husband, which makes it a bit of a biased analogy.

    To abstract it one level, all I’m saying is that A&B have fallen out seriously over C. For A then to invite C to “dinner” without considering B’s feelings is an agressive action, and it would be difficult for B not to consider it as such. (but let’s not get too bogged down in weak parables!)

    I don’t think Evangelicals are saying “let’s not hear homosexuals speak”. Rather it is “do not allow them to preach”. The first implies a denial of certain basic human rights, the second I think is more with regards to what qualifies a person to preach, and it is *that* which we are disagreed upon.

    Of course, both sides are extremely hurt in this circumstance. When I fight with my wife we both tend to lash out because we feel hurt, and say and do things that we later regret. All I’m saying is that I think this is what is happening on a larger scale.

    When we suspect that we are not being loved by our brothers and sisters because of how they act it causes us to react rashly. So let us spend time recovering common ground, such as identifying our common goals as Christians. There is likely to be plenty that is salvageable in this relationship if both sides work hard at being considerate and God blesses us with understanding.

    Finally, I’m wary that I’ve never met Kelvin apart from over the internet, and that I don’t know his congregation. I understand that he is an intelligent man with a significant responsibility, and strikes me as very patient (especially with those who disagree with him!)

    Therefore I wish to respect that, and don’t want to come treading all over his blog without so much as a “by your leave”. I hope the tone of my posts has not been too provocative, and I will withdraw (inviting personal dialogue with whoever wishes it) having made my point in as best a way as I can.

    I really do wish you as a church family every blessing as you seek to discern His will and glorify Him in all that you do, and I hope that Kelvin will reconsider the nature of this invitation for the reasons I’ve outlined.

  60. Beat & Rosemary – many thanks for your comments. I’m very happy for them to appear on the blog. Although there are limits to how effective this kind of discussion can be in a comment thread, it seems to me to be one of the great gifts that blogging has brought us.

    Such conversations seem less possible elsewhere and so I’m happy for them to happen here.

    Of course, I’m bound to note that without the announcement of +Gene’s visit, this worthwhile conversation might not have begun…

  61. Ryan Dunne says:

    I’ll get to your other points B, but can’t you see that denying a *Bishop* the right to preach very much is a curtailing of their rights? If societal homophobia disappeared then terms like gay and straight would lose their current meaning; it is not necessarily +Gene’s fault that he is perceived as primarily a political figure than a man of God. And , as regards timing : can you honestly say that there was any time that +Gene Robinson could have been invited to preach at a SE church that would not have had St.Silas types metaphorically breaking out the green ink?

  62. 'Peter' says:

    I’m a Roman Catholic priest and am following the conversation re. +Gene. I haven’t left my email address because life is even tougher for gay and gay-sympathetic priests and people in RC-dom than it is in Pisky-land, and I don’t want to compromise the ministry I have. I am delighted +Gene will receive hospitality at St Mary’s, delighted he will preside at the Eucharist, and delighted he will break the word. I only wish I could be present.
    Jesus scandalised the Pharisees because he enjoyed the company of ‘tax-collectors and sinners’. They couldn’t comprehend how he, as a religious teacher, a devout follower of the Law, could do such a thing. But he did. And suffered the consequences of their legalistic bigotry. And rose from the dead! He knew that his Father’s house has many rooms. He could see goodness in each and every one. He was not sin-obsessed as many of his followers became, and still are. He said nothing, repeat, nothing, about same-sex relationships. He called people to love, to forgive, to usher in the reign of his Father. Somehow, much of the Church has illicitly divorced itself from his teaching, his praxis, and his living presence in the Church. +Gene is a baptised Christian, living in the Spirit, seeking to know and do God’s will. Even if we don’t know that, we must presume it. If we cannot presume it, perhaps we are more serpents than doves…
    I am in awe of his integrity, his courage, his faithfulness to the Gospel, his persistence in a ministry that is poorly acknowledged at the level of Lambeth, his commitment to the word of God — and so much else.
    People are broken. The diagnosis is chronicled in Genesis, re-iterated in the gospels and in Paul, and is evident today. +Gene brings good news to this brokenness. I am grateful for his witness, am inspired by his integrity, and add my poor prayers to so many others for his flourishing in life and in the Church.

  63. David |daveed| says:

    The funny thing for me is that +Gene, in reality, would just prefer to be on about the business of being the Bishop Diocesan of New Hampshire.

    If you talk to folks in the diocese, they are about being the Church in their area like every other diocese in their province. They are not going about it any differently because it is +Gene who is their bishop. Just as the Diocese of Maine isn’t going about doing it differently because +Chilton (a woman) is their bishop.

    It is the crux of the statements that he makes when he tells folks that he is just a simple country bishop. +Gene has served in that diocese for years. He was elected from among his own to be their leader because they knew him, they respected him and they loved and were comfortable with him.

    In spite of how much he tries to just go on about the business of leading the diocese of New hampshire, he has also accepted the fact that is is not going to be that simple. I believe that he has accepted the role that God has raised him up for such a time as this. And so, in addition to leading his diocese, he “makes” time to be the voice of gay folks in TEC, and the rest of the AC. At tremendous personal sacrifice at times.

    There are detractors who love to say that he loves every minute of it. He craves the lime light. I do not believe that to be so. As far as the rest of the province is concerned, he lived a basically obscure presence in this diocese before his election, and I believe he would be just as happy had his episcopate had followed suit.

  64. I have nothing to add to the above, I just wanted to be the person who posted the comment that made “An Announcement” overtake “The Advent Wreath Candle Controversy” in the most commented league table!

    🙂

  65. Ryan Dunne says:

    Some might call that cheating, Stewart 🙂

  66. Coming far too late to the party: have you considered the effect on the home churches of interested/supportive parties of your Sunday Eucharist’s taking place on a Sunday morning? 😉

  67. Paul says:

    Are you referring to the fact that people need to make the decision to worship with their own community or be present at st marys? It is a shame that all (or maybe just most) Christian churches still insist on worshipping on a sunday, meaning that those of us who have eccumenical interests find it difficult to build and be part of one community while trying to support and learn from other churches. This is not even considering that not working on a sunday in some employments is difficult. This is very much a discussion suited to a different thread or website; I would, never-the-less like to know what others think of this.

  68. Paul, I’m all for worship at different times during the week. But in this case, surely it is good that this is happening in the main Sunday service?

    If I find my morning congregation is tiny that day because lots of people have chosen to go to the cathedral, that’s fine. At least I will know they are in church somewhere, which is more than can be said on most Sundays that half the congregation suddenly disappears.

  69. Paul, I’m simply referring to the fact that I don’t like to miss “my” church on a Sunday but that some occasions tempt me to do so. This is one such.

  70. Paul says:

    I agree. My issue (?) was quite personal in that the church I belong to in Glasgow (the Metropolitan Community Church) at the moment only meets once a month on the first sunday and this event, splendid though it is, is forced us to make a decision since it seems that some will want to be at st marys and some would rather not go for whatever reason. we’re having to decide whether to move the time of service or not. Relatively small issue I know but with a small congregation it can mean a lot.
    Kimberly: yes it is good that it is taking place at the traditional worship time. Why treat Gene any different from any other Bishop in the AC? Even if the Conference thinks differently.
    Chris, you’re right. This is one of those times when the ‘home’ churches may have to make a small sacrifice to support a leader like Gene.

  71. julio says:

    I wonder what proportion of your congregation are both male and heterosexual. Not many I suspect!

  72. Thanks for your questions Julio. One of the nice things about St Mary’s is that the congregation is quite a mixed demographic. We are about 50% men and 50 % female on a Sunday. Most, but obviously not all of the congregation, are straight.

    People seem to be quite comfortable worshipping in a church where it is no big deal whether you are straight or gay. Occasionally, I’ve known straight couples with children choose to worship in St Mary’s (and also in my previous congregation) specifically because they did not want to take them to a congregation where it was not OK to be gay.

  73. julio says:

    I’m glad to hear that St Mary’s attracts a wide mix of people! If I’m ever in Glasgow on a Sunday, I’ ll be there!

  74. julio says:

    Does anyone have a convincing answer to carlos iradier, by the way?

  75. PamB says:

    One of the big events in St Mary’s, but I won’t be there – I’ll be in sunny Strathallan with Layclerk, the Frikkster, et al.
    I’ve seen that pupit occupied by Runcie, Spong, Jenkins, Rawcliffe…., and heard the mindless drumming of Jack Glass overwhelmed by Full Organ.
    And they call us the Frozen Chosen!

  76. Ryan says:

    Who was Jack Glass protesting against? Here’s a (twenty-page!) interview with +Gene I found:

    http://men.style.com/gq/features/full?id=content_6948&pageNum=1

  77. I think Glass was protesting about Runcie, but I was not here. Others may be able to give more details or even photographs.

    The answer to Carlos, Julio is that not knowing everything that God knows is a consequence of possessing genuine free will.

    We have the chance in every moment to choose the good and every such choice we make prefigures the ecstacy of heaven.

  78. julio says:

    I note your answer to Carlos Iradier.

    It must presumably follow that, being conscious of our own ignorance, we should all tread carefully, alive to the possibilty of our own error and to the possiblity that the views of others, with whom we disagree, may ultimately be a truer reflection of God’s knowledge!

  79. PamB says:

    Yes, Glass did protest against Runcible, but the occasion I was recalling was in the late 60s, when even one verse of “Ye who own the faith of Jesus” (sung of course to Daily Daily) would bring him out from under his stone. This, remember, was the man who stood in St Peter’s Square in Rome carrying a banner reading “No Pope Here”!

  80. Ryan says:

    I had my own experience of Glass style extremists when living in University Halls. One of the Wardens told me that you can’t be a Buddhist and a Christian (probably true), you can’t be a Muslim and a Christian (ditto) and then followed it up with :

    “You can’t be a Catholic and a Christian”

    Don’t know if it’s changed, but the internet server used to block Stonewall’s site as unsuitable too.

  81. Steven McQuitty says:

    Dear Kelvin

    I would like to compliment you on the quality of the debate within your blog. Most people who post here seem to do so with respect for the views of others.

    I am a presbyterian from Portadown in Northern Ireland (boo hiss) but do not have a church background and only became a Christian in my early/mid 20s. I stumbled upon your site via Bishop David’s blog.

    I am not sure were I stand on the whole same sex debate within the Anglican communion. My gut (which may be wrong) feeling is that homosexuality may not be God’s choice for human relationships.

    What I want to know is, do you think that you could be wrong in your (apparent) feeling that same sex unions are of equal value in the eyes of God? Do you, for example, consider them to be as legitimate an expression of love as marriage between a man and a woman?

    If you accept you could be wrong how does that affect your attitude to the debate?

    Bishop Gene does not seem to feel he could be wrong and as such his attitude, from my very limited knowledge of same, can appear to be rather triumphalist, i.e., lacking humility.

    If anything we are ALL called to humility and the tone of some of the debate (on both sides) is often anything but.

    Thanks and keep up the excellent work in providing this useful forum for debate.
    [Discussion on this comment moved to here.]

    Steven

  82. > Comment moved to here.

  83. Elizabeth says:

    > Comment moved to here.

  84. new to this but would like to add a comment.If I were in Kelvin’s shoes(black of course) I would also have invited Gene.He is after all a senior figure in the Anglican communion.He is in our city, should we not welcome a fellow Christian brother to share in the worship of Jesus?Yes he is gay but what do we know of the man himself.I for one have never met him so do not feel in a position to pass comment.Kelvin I feel has done the right thing, he also must know it would cause discussion debate and controversy and some people will be upset by this. Only Gene and his family know what pain anguish deliberation and prayer brought him to where he is now in his life.If we are all to be prevented from moving forward from our past then what hope is there for us.This denies God’s forgiveness.I know this doesn’t work if you totally deny someone their sexuality and believe that homosexuality is inhherently wrong.I believe in ;fidelity, honesty love truth and I think we should meet Gene and hear what he has to say

    I dont know if any of this will be put on the blog but here are some thoughts i had on not just gene but people who people perceive to be different from them

    I am me
    Can’t you see, behind the mask of your certainty
    The person who lives, breathes, thinks, feels, loves, not their own reality but yours
    Can’t you see the small me dying within
    Each day I lose more dignity
    I compromise
    I disappear
    To make you secure in your reality
    Why do you fear me so much?
    Perhaps I threaten the status quo,
    The smugness of self-righteousness
    And yet I did not choose this for myself
    It is my life
    My walk with God
    God knows me and loves me
    He has held out His hand to catch me
    When I fall
    His gentleness and love sustain me
    When human hearts turn cold against me
    God is there in the wee small hours
    With no T.V. or camera crew
    Can’t you give me the time of day to listen to what I have to say
    God will know if my heart is true and judge me on the last day

  85. takecon says:

    Hi, I learned from a friend that Gene Robinson will be at St Marys on 3 August.
    I’m a gay guy who is a member of St Marys. I’ve not been attending services for some time. However my recent attendance at a Catholic Funeral Mass awoke something n me – something spiritual – a need. Also a BBC Documentary this week re GAFCON shocked me greatly!
    As far as I’m concerned it’s my relationship with God, Christ and the Holy Spirit thats key.
    I’ll be at St Marys on the 3rd

  86. Anne Gadsden says:

    I am an ex-piskie, but still with fond feelings for the church I was raised in. Part of the reason I left was because in the 1970’s, key decade for me, the Piskie church didn’t have room for women in its clergy, alter servers or choirs. I felt excluded then, and I sympathise with the gay christians who are feeling excluded now. I have seen Gene Robinson in interviews, and he comes across as a warm, caring and deeply spiritual man. I would have loved to come to hear him speak in the flesh, and I am glad that he is being given these opportunities to speak.

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