OneBodyOneFaith extends hospitality to shunned Lambeth partners
OneBodyOneFaith has expressed its sadness and disappointment at the decision to exclude same-sex partners from the 2020 Lambeth Conference, and offered hospitality to those partners who would still like to attend.
Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive, responded by promising to ensure that same-sex partners of bishops who wished to join them in Canterbury, would be warmly welcomed. ‘We are called to follow the example of Jesus in extending the table to those with whom we don’t necessarily agree, and we applaud the effort of the organisers to do just that – but we need to go further. Radical Christian inclusion demands no less from us. These partners may be few in number but they are hugely symbolically significant, prophetic even. We are reaching out to them over the coming weeks, and have already been contacted by members and supporters offering accommodation. We will do everything we can to ensure that they are there in Canterbury next year.’
The news that bishops with same-sex partners would be invited to attend unaccompanied was confirmed by Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon. It is understood to have been personally communicated to the bishops concerned by Archbishop Justin Welby, who has previously declared that ‘no person is a problem’ in relation to their sexuality. The comprehensive programme for bishops’ opposite-sex spouses, to which members of the Church of England are invited to contribute financially, gives married couples a high profile within proceedings.
Canon Peter Leonard, Chair of Trustees, said, ‘Whilst we recognise the difficulties inherent in a global meeting of primates from very different contexts, LGBT people are simply fed up of being the scapegoats for these tensions. We can but speculate on the tone of Archbishop Justin’s conversation with the people who are affected by this decision. This move simply reinforces the message that our relationships are less valid than those of straight people. It demonstrates that little has changes since the decision to exclude Gene Robinson in 2008. When that happened, we and our allies made sure he could attend, and we’ll do the same again next year – but this has to stop. If bishops are living within the discipline of their particular province, then we should be welcoming them to Canterbury.’
Ms Byrne continued, ‘This all boils down to the kind of church we think we’re called to be – one which tries to include people, or one which tries to keep them out. We know that the Spirit is moving in all kinds of ways, urging us to reconsider past certainties about all kinds of issues of poverty, justice and our shared humanity. That’s what the Lambeth Conference needs to be focusing on – and LGBT people need to be part of that conversation. And especially since sexuality will no doubt be firmly on the agenda – they’ll be ‘talking about us’ again - our partnered bishops deserve the support and companionship of their partners during a challenging conference, just like our married sisters and brothers’.