Tuesday, 7 February 2017

My email to CofE General Synod: House of Bishops’ Marriage & Same Sex Relations after the Shared Conversations

Here is the letter I've sent to the Diocese of Oxford Bishops and General Synod Reps today.  This is the way our voices can be heard.  Feel free to send your own versions if you feel as strongly as I do.

I am writing to you and all General Synod representatives in Oxford Diocese to express my sadness, disappointment and concern over the document referenced above for the February 2017 session. I hope you are aware of the distress and anger with which this report has been received in many of us who serve and worship in The Church of England. I do not think that the report’s findings represent members of the Church of England or everyone who committed themselves to the Shared Conversations process.
I have a number of concerns about the report.

1. It presents only one interpretation of Biblical teaching; yet there are multiple ways of reading the Bible. The fact that these other readings have been dismissed without explanation or theological engagement concerns me. The purpose of the process and report was to provide theological diversity for LGBTI people and their relationships; it is a failure that this has not happened.

2. The report uses the phrase “those who experience same sex attraction”. This is not a term I have ever heard used positively and is offensive to most of the LGBTI community. This term denotes that being LGBTI is a choice rather than a part of someone's identity. The term used by the report is one preferred by a small group of opponents within the Shared Conversations, I am shocked that it has been adopted as suitable terminology for the report.

3. This report was intended to cover conversations about and with LGBTI people but there is no mention of the lived experience of bisexual, intersex or transgender people and their relationships. These groups of people are entirely invisible and deemed irrelevant.

4. I was one of the few people inside the CofE who expected some affirmation of LGBTI people and the importance of themselves and their relationships in the Church. I have obviously been disappointed. But even those who were more realistic about the process had hope that genuine listening would occur, and that there might be some openness to Priests whose conscience allowed them, to bless such relationships. What sort of church do we have when priests bless inanimate objects such as hunts, homes and second marriages but can not even bless a committed and loving relationship? The refusal to allow such blessings is to say, in no uncertain terms, that the Church is entirely convinced of the sinfulness of such a relationship. And if that is what we are saying, then it is clearly nonsensical to pretend that we are able to offer a genuine welcome to the majority of LGBTI people. Is that really the church I serve and worship within?

5. I'm aware that you might read this and wonder why I care, after all I'm a happily married heterosexual woman. But my life is blessed with friends who are gay and bisexual and I'm raising a daughter who thinks nothing of accepting anyone's sexuality as part of life. How do I explain to them that God loves every one of us equally, when speaking from a church which only has negative things to say about their relationships? The report may say that there must be a fresh tone, but without any actual change those are the emptiest of words.

6. Archbishop Justin has admitted that the CofE is seen as a “toxic” environment where parents fear their children are more likely to be taught about prejudice rather than love. How does this report help in our ministry to reach out to these families in acceptance, love and openness? I feel like years of conversations and services and has been undermined in one report which says we are unable to see goodness and love where it exists.

Please, on behalf of me, my friends, my daughter, my community and the future church, consider NOT “taking note” of the report when it comes before Synod.

Thank you for reading this.
With my prayers

Licensed Lay Pioneer Minister

Monday, 23 January 2017

See me at "The Mighty"

At the end of last year my first story was posted at The Mighty and I've just realised I forgot to link that here.


So here it is now


Into week 3 of positivity #positive #oneword365

Day 14
mission shaped ministry comes to an end on a high
Mike and Rachel tour the oxford castle
and we end the day with a well earned curry

day 15
I'm with the young people and learning lots
then enjoying time with the church family
before planning home group sessions coming up
busy busy positivity

day 16
there's been resting and chatting
back to choir and singing
and missional praying

My New Superpower: Invisibility

Becoming disabled means accepting a superpower or two.  You know, like x-ray vision, watch out boys; and telepathy, again watch out boys; and spoon bending, I'm not sure who should watch out now.  I however haven't gained any of these famous comic book inspired superpowers, mine is much less exciting; it's invisibility.

Typically I never fancied the superpower of invisibility, or even owning am invisibility cloak; but it's a fact of life now I'm severely sight impaired and using a wheelchair.  I'm invisible.  I can't tell you whether it's the blindness or the wheelchair that makes me invisible but Rachel (wise beyond her years) thinks it's probably just being disabled which does it.

I know what you're thinking. I must be on about the fact that I can't get out of the house much any more so I'm literally invisible in society; and yes there's that great annoyance; but I'm being more abstract in my thinking.  You see I've come to realise that I have become invisible because no one thinks about what it's like to be disabled.

I'm invisible to businesses
I'm invisible to charities
I'm invisible in the media
I'm invisible in social groups
I'm invisible in sports clubs
I'm invisible in music venues
I'm invisible in churches
I'm invisible in government
As well as being invisible in society

I'm not sure what's at the route of this invisibility; it might be lack of awareness or understanding or financial concerns or ignorance or laziness; but whatever it is it has to be brought out into the open and seen for what it is.  It is not funny. It is discrimination!

It makes no business sense to make such a large proportion of society invisible, why not make your premises accessible and positive for disabled people?

It should be something to be ashamed about when you fail to meet the Disability Discrimination Act by not thinking about disabled people and what they need you to do to be made welcome.

Come on society, stop giving me a superpower I don't need.
I'm not invisible!

Buggy vs Wheelchair: You Decide

I'm sure you've seen the news reports about how a wheelchair user "won his case" to have priority in the wheelchair space over buggy's on the buses.  I am sure you might have an opinion about this.  I am sure you're sure I have an opinion about this.  And of course you're right, I do, but it might not be what you're expecting.

My opinion is that we should stop!
Stop judging
Stop pitting parents against disabled people
Stop causing arguments on buses based on lack of facts
Stop distracting everyone from the poor state of provision for wheeled users on public transport

You see there are no winners in the fight between wheelchairs and parents with buggys.  Well, actually, to be more accurate there are winners, but only the lawyers and paid for media.
The debate just doesn't work when you look at it in any detail.  How can you pit a wheelchair user against a mother of twins who are asleep?  How can you pit a disabled toddler in a buggy against an elderly person with a walking frame?  How can you pit a blind man and his guide dog against blind me in my wheelchair against my friend with twins and a toddler?

You can't.
And that's the point.
There is no easy way forward.
But that doesn't mean we give up.

Instead we should start!
Start fighting together for more flexible space on public transport
Start seeing each other as equal members in community
Start working to find solutions that work
Start communicating openly

It shouldn't be either or, it should be more!! 

More buses on busy bus routes
More spaces on all buses for wheeled forms of transport of any sort
More accessible buses on all bus routes, there are some places without low floor buses
More conversations about the rights of everyone in society to be able to get from A to B.

Positivity Continues

I know what you're thinking
She's managed five days positivity
And now she's hit a wall
Well, that is what I expected
(Based on past experience)
But I am still positive 
Here at day 23
I've not written it all down
And of course it's not smooth going
Some days it's only minutes positive
But each day, so far
I've found something to celebrate
Here are the images created
From day 6 onwards
Now I'm heading off
To catch up on images

Friday, 6 January 2017

day 5 #positive #oneword365

today wasn't great
in fact it was shit
but I decided to do
something about it
so I went out in the garden
although it was cold
and took lots of photos
of the frost over the world
it made me feel better
to be creating again
and through it I could see
some detail within

day 4 #positive #oneword365

day four
came as a shock
back to school
hitting the books
my mood suffered
all on my own
but it wasn't that long
until she was back home
art homework was huge
and a bone of contention
but in the end
we avoided excess tension
during the day
I amused myself
with instant pot cooking
and phone calls too
it's good to achieve
these things I can do
despite exhaustion
and sight loss too

day 3 #positive #oneword365

today was the last day
before school starts back
it started with struggling
just to get up
then after breakfast
it was double bass practice
which progressed
to some cool compositions
at lunch came friends
that we don't see enough
an afternoon of joy
and much catching up
days like these
are the stuff of joy
positive days
that should never end