Saturday, 11 July 2009

Greenbelt, ‘gay evangelicalism’ and CMS: Summer 2009

Ed: Some of us are also old enough to remember when Greenbelt brought on the bikini-clad girl dancers of the Sheffield Nine O'Clock service, whose leader, Chris Brain, was later discovered to be involved in what have been described as "abusive relationships" with a number of people. Greenbelt also brought us the fringe meeting addressed by a White Witch. As one of the early Greenbelt attendees, I always valued its willingness to be experimental, but it lost the plot when it ceased to apply evangelical principles to what it wanted to teach people, often very young Christians, attending the festival, and what it wanted to celebrate as the gospel.

According to its website, ‘Greenbelt is an independent Christian charity working to express love, creativity and justice in the arts and contemporary culture in the light of the Christian gospel.’ It is the largest Christian festival in the UK, almost 20,000 strong, with a fascinating line-up of speakers, subjects, genres and modalities. It also appears strongly pro-gay. Gene Robinson, gay bishop poster boy (although oddly, that was not mentioned) and Giles Fraser, head of Inclusive Church (that was also not included) are on the rostrum, along with gay rights advocates Robert Beckford and Paula Gooder. Gay worship groups, OuterSpace and Journey, will be leading in worship while gay bands, Athlete and Royksopp, will be entertaining the crowds. Read here and here, also here

This is rather worrying: it is called the gayification of the church. Almost more insidious is that it exists, cheek by jowl, with other worthwhile, important and solidly orthodox aspects, lulling those who might otherwise get upset into a false complacency that ‘things are not really that bad!’ I guess it all depends on what ‘bad’ means. That the Gay Pride flag was flown over London’s historic St Martin-in-the-Fields to celebrate Gay Pride days ago and that the Archbishop of Canterbury just met with a leading US LGBT group, although, oddly, there was no time to meet with the orthodox hounded out of their churches (which they have paid for and maintained) or those from ex/post-gay groups — two of the most recent examples — should speak volumes!

At some point we as a church will have to face the music. We have tacitly, incrementally forfeited an agreed-upon Christian sexual ethic (no sex outside heterosexual marriage) which had held for the past millennia. Now, in effect, we accept and some promote the ethic that as long as sexual ‘relationships’ are ‘loving’, ‘committed’ and ‘faithful’, they are blessed by God and if those in them wish to marry, they should be allowed to do so. Is this not so? Acclimatization moves on to acceptance. Acceptance moves on to normalization. Read more

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Reform to hand Archbishop of Canterbury huge power

Dr Rowan Williams is on course to become one of the most powerful Archbishops of Canterbury since the Reformation, under a programme of centralisation planned for the Church of England.

Under the plans, to be debated at the General Synod tomorrow, the Church bodies responsible for education, mission and finance will be abolished. The powers of the Church’s main boards and councils will instead pass to the archbishops of Canterbury and York.

However, The Times has learnt that some of the senior clergy and laity in the Church of England are planning to revolt against the shift of power from the democratically elected General Synod. The rebels will warn the synod in York that the centralising changes would turn the established Church into a medieval style of government more akin to a “Muslim-style theocracy”.

The radical plans have been drawn up as part of a series of measures designed to create a leaner Church better fitted to cope with falling attendances, a pensions black hole and plummeting asset values.

The synod is also to debate cutting the number of bishops at a time when the future of the dioceses of Wakefield, Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, Sheffield, Ely and Peterborough are being reviewed. It is possible that at least one diocese will disappear. The post of one bishop, the suffragan in Hulme, Manchester, has already been axed. Read more
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