Bishop welcomes walk of repentance for homophobia

By staff writers
May 25, 2011

The former Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, has said he welcomes plans by Christian writer Symon Hill to undertake a pilgrimage of repentance for his former homophobia.

Harries said that the church needs to repent in relation to gay and lesbian people.

Hill, an associate director of the Ekklesia thinktank, will walk from Birmingham to London between 16 June and 1 July, giving talks at churches on the way and urging the Church as a whole to repent of homophobia. He will join the Pride march in London the day after he arrives.

"It is very good that you are undertaking this pilgrimage of repentance," said Richard Harries, in a message to Hill, "I very much hope it will have a wide influence."

Harries, who now sits in the House of Lords, added, "Repentance in the original Greek word means changing one's mind, and rethinking one's whole outlook in the light of God’s saving presence in Christ. That is what the church needs to do today in relation to gay and lesbian people."

Symon Hill said he was "delighted" to have received the bishop's message of support. He added that he has been "deeply moved" by the many people who have contacted him to express their support, including Chrisitians and non-Christians of various sexualities.

He explained, "They include a man whose Christian parents won't accept homosexuality, a gay Methodist minister who used to be homophobic, a straight Muslim and a bisexual teenager. I thank God for the courage these people have given me as the date of my pilgrimage approaches."

The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has already welcomed the plans for the pilgrimage, describing it as "an inspiring example".

Organisations to have endorsed the walk include the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Inclusive Church and the evangelical group Courage. A number of individual churches and local groups have also given their support.

The pilgrimage will be launched at Carr's Lane Church in central Birmingham at 7.00pm on Wednesday 15 June. It will finish with an event at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in Shaftestbury Avenue, London at 7.00pm on Friday 1 July.

Hill said, "At a time when campaigns against same-sex relationships are sadly led by Christians, it is vital that those Christians who reject homophobia stand up and clearly say so".


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