Some Responses to the Nashville Statement

This week a group of around 150 Christian leaders published The Nashville Statement, a set of affirmations and denials regarding sexuality and faith and in particular LGBT+ issues. This group, it must be said, represent a particular brand of conservative evangelicalism that this particular writer finds to be unwholesome to say the least.

I won’t post a link to the statement here, you’ll find it easily enough if you really want to read it.

There have been a number of responses to the statement online, many from the church and many from secular writers. I want to highlight two responses here that I found to be particularly helpful in presenting a more loving, inclusive and Christ-like representation of the broad spectrum of humanness .

Firstly the ‘Denver Statement‘ written by Nadia Bolz-Weber, an author of several ground-breaking books and a founding pastor of House For All Sinners And Saints in Denver, Colorado.  Nadia responds brilliantly to each of the articles and adds one of her own at the end.

Secondly from Christians United, a similar statement listing their own set of ten articles written in the same style as pairs of affirmations and denials, This statement has initially been signed by a broad spectrum of international Christian leaders and in this case there is an option for the reader to sign on in agreement to the statement.

Here at Affirm our purpose is to support the LGBT+ community, particularly those within the Baptist denomination, but in a wider sense to all those seeking to be at home in an inclusive, Christ-like church, it makes me sad to read the Nashville Statement, but I am encouraged by the responses and by the realisation that the love of Christ is all-encompassing and slowly, very slowly, his church is coming to realise that.

This post by Andy Long, website manager

 

New Site for the Open Church Network

Open Church Network describes itself as ‘A virtual gathering place for people seeking an open conversation about Christianity, theology, church, the Bible and life. A web portal rich in content and resources for those with a personal interest in Christian life or theology; for church leaders, church members and those who are currently finding their way outside a traditional sense of church.  A network with a strong focus on the inclusion of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender within the Christian Church.’

The site is run by the Oasis Charitable Trust and brings together some fantastic content, worth a visit.

You can also follow Open Church Network on Twitter

 

10 Bible Passages That Teach a Christian Perspective on Homosexuality

I found a superb article online recently at the Sojourners website.

10 Bible Passages That Teach a Christian Perspective on Homosexuality was written by Layton E Williams in June 2017. It is a wonderful response to Christians who refer to those verses commonly known as the ‘clobber passages’. This is an excellent resource and well worth a read. We can’t reproduce it here so I’m posting an offsite link.

In Layton’s introduction she states:

‘Here are 10 Bible verses that emphasize the value of love over the law, the God-belovedness of all people, and the special affirmation of those who have been historically rejected as unclean or unholy.’

Layton E. Williams is the Audience Engagement Editor at Sojourners. She also writes about the intersections of faith, justice, politics, and culture with an emphasis on sexuality and gender. You can follow Layton on Twitter

Please do check this article out it’s absolutely brilliant

Gathering Voices

Gathering Voices is an event that is taking place in Manchester this October. It is A collaborative day conference of Christian organisations working to explore ways to improve the experience for all LGBTQAi+ Christians

With key speakers Ruth Hunt (CEO Stonewall)

& Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Ch*aplain to the Speaker to the House of Commons)

.This promises to be a fascinating day and Affirm will be represented there too.

Details below

Saturday 14th October 2017 09.30 a.m. to 5.30p.m.

Cost: £35 (including refreshments)
Cross Street Chapel, Manchester http://cross-street-chapel.org.uk/

Organisations confirmed so far:
Accepting Evangelicals, Evangelical Fellowship of Lesbian and Gay Christians, Outcome, Sibyls, Stonewall, Two:23

Tel:. 020 8411 0040 (home) 07714 278865 (mobile) e-mail: contact@eflgc.org.uk

N.B. The closing date for accepting bookings is the 30th September 2017

 

Scottish Episcopal Church Approves Equal Marriage

Luke Dowding – 12th June 2017

Great joy mixed with great sorrow; that is how I feel about the recent decision made by the General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church earlier this week (June 2017).

Firstly, great joy for those represented in our family in Christ in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Great joy that it was with overwhelming majority of both Bishops and laity, and a comfortable majority from clergy, that the vote to allow same-sex marriages in the Episcopal Church of Scotland was passed. This vote will ensure that a fundamental change in canon law will occur, in which it will no longer say marriage is a lifelong union between man and woman. It will also make provision for those in employed and volunteer positons to decline involvement in same-sex weddings based on decisions of conscience and different theological interpretation. This brings Scottish Episcopal churches to the same position that Baptist churches within the Baptist Union of Great Britain are in (because of our different Ecclesiology and recent decisions of the BU Council).

Secondly, deep sadness for the strife and bitterness caused by the continued dialogue of opposing sides regarding human sexuality. This is not limited to the Anglican Communion but it is deeply entrenched within our Baptist family as well. While Bishops within the Church of England cut ties with their counterparts in Scotland, and “missionaries” are being sent to reconvert those they consider “lost”, so behind so-called “mutual respect” there are those within the Baptist Union who continue to close doors, frustrate productive engagement and undermine those who have an inclusive vision of Kingdom building.

The news from Scotland is one to thank God for, but it also serves as a frank reminder of all that we have still yet to achieve.

Luke Dowding is Co-Director of Affirm

Book Review – ‘119’ by Jaime Sommers

Book Review

119: My Life As A Bisexual Christian

Jaime Sommers

Darton Longman Todd

In 1991 The Church Of England published ‘Issues In Human Sexuality’. It’s true to say that much Christian thinking has come a long way in the years since that document was published, but the title of this book refers to clause 5.8 of that document and the 119 words that were devoted to the subject of bisexuality.

In Christian life today, more so in progressive Christian life, many of us have come to understand that a person’s sexuality is a part of their identity to be celebrated rather than condemned, although this remains a hot topic in evangelical circles.

However bisexuality often seems to be the silent partner in the LGBT+ arena, possibly less well understood than ‘L’, ‘G’ or even ‘T’. So Jaime’s book is a welcome and compelling read.

This book is a beautiful, inspiring and at the same time disturbing autobiographical portrait from a wife and mother of twenty plus years with a happy family life whose bisexuality resulted in her being bullied and abused by the very organisation that should have been there to offer support.

I won’t spoil the story for you as it’s well worth a read, but Jaime’s journey through college and the charismatic Christian groups of the early ‘90’s through to training as a reader in the Anglican church reveals someone whose Christian faith was integral to her life and it becomes a tragic tale as we read of how the church responded to her sexuality with a disciplinary regime that brought her to a place of judgement and isolation. As someone who works as an advocate for the LGBT+ community within the Baptist church I found ‘119’ an informative and enlightening resource

Andy Long

This review originally appeared in ‘Progressive Voices’, the magazine of PCN Britain and is reproduced here by kind permission.

 

Don’t tell me to choose between being religious and being gay, I can’t

DON’T TELL ME TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BEING GAY AND BEING RELIGIOUS, I CAN’T

Please take the time to read this blog post by our good friend Joey Knock

You can read the post in full over on Joey’s site

In this post Joey responds beautifully and eloquently to a piece published on the Gay Times website which was titled ‘if you’re gay and religious don’t you think you ought to consider giving one up?’.

Joey takes time to talk about how he considered both those choices n the past and why he is unable to give up either. He also talks extensively about churches around the country that are becoming increasingly affirming in their stance and mentions the Soho Gathering as an example. He raises the point that religion is not going away anytime soon and concludes that he is proud to be both gay and religious.

Joey closes the post in this way

“We need to keep hearing and keep telling stories. I’m a white male Anglican. Coming out as gay in the national church was easier than most people’s faith-based experiences. BBC Three’s new online series Queer Britain started last weekend by asking ‘Does God Hate Queers?’. Unlike Andy’s* ‘hot-take’, it went beyond the clickbait title and was a sensitive, snappy insight into faith in the lives of young queer Brits.

Andy, please listen to all our stories. Watch Queer Britain. Join us for a chat at Stonewall, or Christian Aid, or Soho Gathering. We’ll listen and question each other. I’ll probably be challenged to be even more gay and even more religious.”

*refers to the author of the original article

Luke’s Story – our latest video (and other videos)

Over on the videos page we are building a collection of people’s stories, short videos that you cold use in a house group or study setting.

The most recent film is ‘Luke’s Story’. Luke Dowding is one of the directors here at Affirm and in his story he tells us of his life at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, his wedding to his partner Steven and his desire to become an ordained Baptist Minister.

Also on the videos page you can find an interview with Ian and Martin Stears-Handscomb and a film of the sermon from Luke and Steven’s wedding.

These are great little films and we hope that you get a lot from them, more are coming soon.

A Safe Space – LGBT+ gathering in Bristol

Elaine Sommers, a good friend of the team at Affirm, has organised an event in North Bristol called ‘A Safe Space’.

Elaine describes this event as being for Christian LGBTI+ people, their partners and friends to explore faith, life and church.

Elaine is a transgender Christian from the Bristol area and a champion for the trans and LGBT community.

Elaine tells us that this first event will about finding out what people would want from such a group, it will be a time of fellowship rather than strategy, all are welcome.

The event is on Saturday 3rd June from 10:30 until 1:00.  For further details about this event please contact Elaine.