Trans welcome: OneBody calls for enquiry
OneBody calls for enquiry into subcommittee dictating Church of England anti-trans policy to Synod and bishops
OneBodyOneFaith is calling upon the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to launch an enquiry into the way in which a small group of bishops appears to have halted progress on liturgies of welcome and naming for trans people - and why a senior church bureaucrat has spun as ‘prayerful consideration’ a de facto process which meant that bishops were not given the opportunity to consider or question the committee's decision.
Peter Leonard, Chair of OneBody’s trustees and a member of General Synod said, ‘The whole church will want to know how, following the Archbishop of York’s warm words of support in July, this has been allowed to happened. The events that have come to light in the past week are not so much kicking the issue into the long grass as stamping on the football. Both the process and the outcome are deeply concerning from a church which reckons to value and affirm everyone, and a number of senior bishops will now need to give an account of their actions if any kind of confidence is to be restored.’
Over the past week the decision of the bishops not to commend services was first leaked in the Daily Mail, then clarified with a hasty media release on Sunday morning and followed by a statement by William Nye (Secretary to the House of Bishops) saying that the matter had been ‘prayerfully considered’ by the House. It has now emerged that the recommendation not to commend liturgies was made by a small group of nine bishops, and ratified by the full House without discussion or debate - confirmed in the recently published notes of the meeting of the House where the matter is - at least we must assume - dealt with under item 5, without the word 'transgender' even being mentioned. The House of Bishops had voted overwhelmingly for a liturgy to recognise trans experience, with votes of 30-2 supporting the motion at the summer's synod meeting. It is hard to see that the nine strong house of bishops' delegation committee - including Julian Henderson and Pete Broadbent (pictured above) - should have the power to overthrow what seemed to be the intention of their fellow bishops and synod without scrutiny.
Tracey Byrne, CEO of OneBodyOneFaith, said, ‘The impression that we and our trans brothers and sisters are forming is that, at the very point when the Bishops need to be listening to trans people, there’s been a concerted effort here to close down debate - with our communities, amongst the bishops themselves, many of whom are by no means unsympathetic, and within General Synod. How can anyone have confidence in either the processes we’re being encouraged to use, or indeed our leaders, when the institution behaves like this? After the fine words in July, we expected action, transparency and dialogue. Sadly this has been blocked. Our message to the bishops remains the same - we’ll work with you, but we won’t wait for you.’