I was dismayed when I read the latest GAFCON Quarterly. It spoke of the chaos surrounding the 2020 Lambeth Conference for bishops in the Anglican Communion. It turns out that the ‘spouses’ of three bishops who are in same-sex unions will not be invited because this is felt not to be “appropriate”. However, the bishops themselves who are in the very same unions will be invited, along with the bishops who consecrated them as bishops, those who ‘married’ them and those who endorse their lifestyle.
Meanwhile the Bishop of Liverpool has said he will attend, but without his wife in protest. And an MP has called for court action over what he sees as workplace discrimination. The University of Kent, where the conference is to be held, has said that they will provide accommodation for the same-sex ‘spouses’ anyway. And the College of Bishops in Toronto has stated that the partner of one bishop in a same-sex union will attend the conference although not invited. What a mess!
It is tempting to think that the problem is with ‘that lot’ and ‘over there’. But surely we’re all in some way part of the problem? Which is not to say that we’re guilty of the same sins or that action isn’t required. But it is striking to see Nehemiah’s reaction to learning that God’s people back in Judah are “in great trouble and disgrace”. He confesses to God “the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you” (Nehemiah 1:3, 6). So perhaps our first prayer should be, “Lord, have mercy.”
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)