Friday, 1 May 2009

Church of Ireland scores Anti-Gay own goal!

Sometimes I despair - Once again we have salvaged defeat from the jaws of success! As part of the General Synod (AGM) of the Church of Ireland being held in Armagh from 8th to 10th May there is to be a Synod Eucharist on the Sunday morning (10th May). Various groups represening the diversity of society in Northern Ireland were invited to take part in the leading of intercessions during the service. They included the GAA, Masons, Orangemen and horror of horrors 'Changing Attitudes', an organisation which lobies for the open inclusion of gay people in the life of the church. I emphasise open because there are in my experience a lot of gay men and women very creatively involved at every level in the life of our church already. Some choose to ignore this, some don't care, some welcome it and some are in denial!

Predictably but sadly, the Orange Order have communicated their displeasure at the participation of Changing attitude and have withdrawn their participation in response to it. What is more they have expressed the opinion that they should have been consulted about the involvement of Changing Attitude! It seems extroardinary to me that an invitation to an event should include the right to veto the participation of others! What parallel Universe are these people in?
Funny, I don't remember Jesus (whose example they apparently follow) being particularly choosy about his company? Indeed wasn't it among the marginalised that he often found integrity and truth!
So how does the C of I respond - We capitulate of course! So the invitations stand but none of these diverse groups now get to take part! They can come and watch but it would be better if they did so from afar! Wouldn't do to offend the Orangemen would it? After all there are probably more Orangemen than Gay people in the Church of Ireland..........or are there? I wonder? Not that its the right way to approach the issue but that never stopped us before! This is a spineless response to an issue of justice and I pray one day we will see the wrong that we have perpetuated by our cowardice!

Link to article in Belfast Newsletter (also printed below): Newsletter 30.4.09
"A PLAN to "celebrate diversity" at a high-profile Church of Ireland service has been scrapped after the Loyal Orders withdrew over the involvement of a pro-gay lobby group.
The symbolic service, held during the Church's annual General Synod in Armagh, to be attended by the Roman Catholic Cardinal, Sean Brady, would have been the spiritual focal point of what is effectively the denomination's parliament.
The Sunday morning Holy Communion service, to be held on May 10 at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, was to involve prayers said by representatives of the Orange Order, Royal Black Preceptory, Freemasons and GAA.
But it was the involvement of Changing Attitude, a group which lobbies for the full involvement of gay and lesbian people in church life, which has led to the Loyal Orders' angry withdrawal and the subsequent decision not to go ahead with the event as it had been planned.
Instead, it is understood that a more traditional service will be held.
A spokesman for the Orange Order said the service had been planned and details circulated before it had been consulted.
"It is the view of the Loyal Orange Institution that any official representation by it at this service would contradict the principles and beliefs that we hold and would in particular lend credence to theological beliefs contrary to that of biblical Protestantism," he said.
A spokesman for the Royal Black Institution said that it had not been consulted about the plans for the service and would not be taking part in it.
A senior Orange Order source said that Grand Secretary, Drew Nelson, who the invitation had been sent to, was angry that the institution had been "dragged into an internal row within the Church of Ireland".
"There is this argument going on within the Church about Changing Attitude, but it is nothing to do with the Orange Order," he said.
It is understood that a retired Church of Ireland minister, the Rev Mervyn Kingston, who is a member of Changing Attitude, was to pray that God would "bless all of our relationships" and "give us patience and understanding as we seek to build bridges with those who have difficulty in accepting us and our opinions".
Conservative members of the Church and the Loyal Orders interpreted that as a blessing of same-sex relationships, an issue which has divided the Anglican Communion in recent years.
A copy of Dean Rooke's letter to prospective participants in the service, obtained by the News Letter, states that the Archbishop of Armagh, Alan Harper, had requested that the various groups be asked to pray at the service.
In a statement, the Very Rev Patrick Rooke, Dean of Armagh, who is organising the service, said: "The theme of the service, in keeping with the Church's Hard Gospel process, will be on the Gospel imperative to 'love God and our neighbour'.
"Representatives of various groups/organisations with which the Hard Gospel Committee has had conversations, including the Orange Order, were invited to participate in the prayers; however, some felt unable to accept. It was therefore considered that alternative arrangements should be put in place for the intercessions and we have invited representatives of all the groups to join us as guests at the service."


Tulippy said...

Spot on and well highlighted!

Grannymar said...

But if the C of I didn't back down, a half dozen bible bashing troublemakers would march up and down outside singing hymns and praying into loudhailers, all for the benefit of TV cameras.

The better plan would be to let them have their five minutes and then have the members of 'Changing Attitudes' serve them tea and cake on the lawn!

Stephen Neill said...

Thanks Tulippy :-)
Grannymar - you should be a Bishop!

Póló said...

A lot of these homophobes are insecure in their own sexuality.

This is a King Canute moment. The tide will still come in.

And hopefully drown the whole damn lot of them.

[Insert act of contrition without firm purpose of amendment]


C'est La Craic said...

Interesting that the Orange Order, itself a masonic lodge, should be so opposed to homsexuality. Ater all, when you are part of an apron wearing, all men's club it does smack a little of the pot, the kettle and the Royal Black Preceptory.

Colin, Belfast said...

I think the whole episode is rather sad. And find it unbelievable that the church removed its invitation to everyone - typical Anglican fudge. I love the way the orange order has such high principals when it comes to human sexuality issues. But if you look at the conduct of some orange men and their followers on that great Christian festival “July 12th”. Drunkenness, fowl language, sectarianism - it’s all there. Very Christian I’m sure !

Anonymous said...

Does Anglicanism stand for anything anymore? Has your church got any core beliefs? I am baffled. I think your religion needs to go back to the basics of the Ten Commandments if it is to be taken seriously.

Stephen Neill said...

Well Anonymous - From Waterford I see - I too am often baffled but then that's part of being an Anglican ;-)

Anonymous said...

Stephen, after working with Changing Attitude in Cork I asked some Orange buddies I have what really happened in regards to that service.

None of the other organisations were told that CA was going to be there, and the OO were not the only ones to kick up a fuss! Even the GAA and the Free Masons were offended that they weren't told about the "agenda" of the service.

The Orange Order is not institutionally homophobic, if you read the comments from the Orangeman who were to attend they said that it was not an issue that needed to be discussed in the OO.

"Unity in essentials, liberty in non essentials".