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Back to the Drawing Board!

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 23 February 2014

It has been an extraordinary week for those interested in issues of inclusion within the Church of England.

Last week at General Synod the time to be spent on necessary diocesan debates surrounding the consecration of women as bishops was shortened to permit a closing vote on this issue at the GS meeting in York in July. This likely success crowns a year with serious joy. We move forwards as men and women, made together in the image of God, weaving God’s Church in the world. Hoorah!

Yet in the very same week, despite the time and money spent on the Pilling Report, written at Bishops’ behest, with its sensible, compassionate recommendations for change, the Bishops sent out a Pastoral Letter, which is at its best cold, at its worst threatening towards Christian members of the LGBT community.

What happened?

We are made in the image of God, capable of creating acts of immense compassion among us, seen in the life of Jesus.

We are fallen, capable of creating acts of great evil among us, seen in the life of Judas.

All of us are all of that. We are as individuals and even more in groups capable of that self-protective prejudice which hurts another. Inclusion is very tough work. It means rooting out that within ourselves which hurts another. It means living forgiveness.

I was glad to return here on Tuesday morning after more than a week away. Here we work together to create Church which is open, honest, struggling, negotiating and compassionate, rather than closed, with a fixed view of goodness, one size fitting all, dishonest. In this work may God’s love protect us all until all belong.

It is back to the drawing board – but then, God must often feel like that!

Revd Clare Herbert