C of E Online Service
Dear Mr Nye,
We, OneBodyOneFaith and WATCH, write to express our concern regarding the decision to invite the Revd Dr Lee Gatiss to lead this week’s Church of England online service. The weekly online service is broadcast across high-profile public social media platforms and, on that basis, our concerns fall under three areas:
- The lack of transparency regarding his wider views and the risk of conflating his platforming as indicating his views are the official line of the Church of England.
- The timing of his service being immediately following a service from SMF, meaning for half of one month, those neither recognising nor affirming women’s ministry have been given centrality, which in the balance of fairness should be more meted out in the spirit of mutual flourishing.
- The lack of balance in general this indicates, through there having been no promotion of explicitly inclusive voices regarding women and LGBTQ+ through this platform.
We will now address these points in more detail. As we are sure you are aware, Revd Dr Gatiss is the Director of the Church Society, and he has consistently used this platform to post views which are at odds with the Church of England’s Pastoral Principles on Living Well Together regarding LGBTQ+ people. Given he is so well known for his anti-LGBTQ+ views, alongside his belief in male headship within the church and family, which includes neither recognising nor affirming women’s ministry, it seems contrary and questionable to the pastoral principles that he is given such a platform, particularly when many members of the Church of England are awaiting the delayed publication of the Living in Love and Faith Resources.
Whilst we understand that the breadth of the Church of England encompasses all sorts of theological beliefs and views regarding gender and sexuality, it is now the second week in a row we have heard from voices that do not affirm women in ministry without the transparency that this is the case. If the national church is committed to the scope of mutual flourishing, thus encouraging all voices to flourish, it seems questionable that the voices of those who exclude women and LGBTQ+ people are being exempted publicly from this call to ‘flourish and grow as people of God’. At the very least, spacing out non-affirming views would reflect a healthier and more accessible balance.
We welcome how the Church of England’s online service did recently specifically encourage inclusive voices regarding race and ethnicity. Consequently, in this spirit of inclusion and balance, we would welcome and wish to work with you on enabling services from women priests and members of WATCH, and in a subsequent week, a service celebrating LGBTQ+ equality, with representatives from OneBodyOneFaith and Inclusive Church. This would thus highlight to the general population that all are encouraged to flourish as disciples of Christ.
We look forward to hearing your response.
Peter Leonard – OneBodyOneFaith
Emma Percy – WATCH