Church of England relies on LGBT clergy, vigil illustrates

Church of England relies on LGBT clergy, vigil illustrates

By staff writers
9 Feb 2012

Anglicans staged an 'Act of Witness' at the Church of England General Synod this morning (Thursday 9 February 2012) to draw attention to the extent to which the Church relies on the many hundreds of LGB&T clergy.

"They minister faithfully across the Church of England despite the institutional prejudice and suspicion they often face," a statement after the event declared.

Over 40 members and supporters of the LGB&T Anglican Coalition greeted Synod members as they entered Church House Westminster from 8.45am.

The Coalition has calculated that there are at least 1,500 LGB&T licensed clergy currently ministering in parishes, hospitals, diocesan offices and other ministries - over 13 per cent of the total.

The Rev Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, said: “Most synod members, including several bishops, responded warmly to our message, and encouraged us to continue our campaign for full inclusion in the Church of England.”

London and Southwark dioceses, which cover the whole of greater London and east Surrey between them, are home to a significant proportion with approximately 350 LGB&T licensed clergy - 25 per cent of the diocesan workforce.

Snapshots of deaneries in other dioceses up and down the country have revealed significant numbers of 10-15 per cent are typical.

Research by the union Unite in 2008 also showed that over 20 per cent of hospital chaplains have same-sex partners and have moved into chaplaincy in part because they could be sure of equal treatment and support from their employer.

Yet the culture of the Church of England remains a hostile place for many LGB&T clergy, who often have to hide their sexuality.

Their treatment by bishops is also inconsistent, with some acknowledging same-sex partners while others overlook them.

The Anglican Coalition brings together all the UK-based groups that work specifically on behalf of the LGB&T members of the Church of England.

It exists to provide UK-based Christian LGB&T organisations with opportunities to create resources for the Anglican community and to develop a shared voice for the full acceptance of LGB&T people in the Anglican Communion.

* More about the LGB&T Coalition: www.lgbtac.org.uk

[Ekk/3]

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