Take Note

Have you ever said something stupid in front of an Archbishop?

Monday lunchtime I happened to be sitting next to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was a guest at a meeting discussing forming clergy as leaders in mission, and we were both deep in conversation with other people. However I did repeat my frustration that with some sections of the Church of England that it is almost as if they don't want there to be a pension left for them in 30 years.

Shortly afterwards Justin said a few words where he emphasised that our motivation for mission should not be about saving an institution, but about sharing the love of God. He is right. I was wrong. I will not say that line again, even in jest.

I have taken note.

This afternoon I will be joining with fellow Charismatics at Soul Survivor's Naturally Supernatural conference. Meanwhile Synod will be asked to Take Note of "Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations". I have probably got the better deal.

Personally I am convinced that Paul's soteriological statement in Galatians 3:28 applies to the whole economy of God. That in order and sacrament, and ultimately the new creation, gender, as we have understood it is passing away. I support the ordination of people irrespective of gender for the same reasons I support the marriage of people irrespective of gender. I am aware that this is not the official teaching of the Church of England, and I live under that discipline.

In the report to Synod the term used throughout refers to those who experience same sex attraction. Here is the rub - who is this? Is it everyone who had a pash or crush at school? Everyone who has ever found themselves in an intense same sex friendship that they suddenly realise could be more? Everyone who has had a sexual fantasy or dream about a member of the same sex?

Or is it the 49% of 18-24 year olds who do not describe themselves as heterosexual?

If you have the time read the report and replace the words 'Same Sex ........' with '49% of 18-24 year olds'. How does it read now? Because that is how those outside the church will read it.

This evening I will chair a PCC meeting. I enjoy PCC meetings, but I recognise as a leader that the decisions we make seldom please everyone. They may not even please me. In many cases they are a step forward on a journey towards discerning the will of God. Hopefully however we avoid saying something stupid.

And sometimes the PCC needs to tell the Vicar she or he is about to say something stupid.

I am passionately committed to supporting our Bishops and Archbishop. As clergy if we do not we cannot expect the wider church we lead to respect our leadership either. But I expect my PCC to tell me when I am saying something that sounds stupid. And I take note.

I have no doubt that the report before synod this afternoon was anguished over. I have no doubt that it has been presented with the best intentions. But whatever our views on sexuality the language is wrong.

I suspect we are on the verge of saying something rather stupid.

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