A group of Christians have come together to form the LGBTI Mission, which will campaign for the full acceptance and affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people within the Church of England.
The group, which is made up of LGBTI people and straight allies, including both clergy and lay people, will seek to remove all barriers to full participation for LGBTI people within the church. It launches during LGBT History Month, which this year is focused on the theme of Religion, Belief and Philosophy.
The priorities of the LGBTI Mission are centred on three key pillars:
Living: the belief that all LGBTI people, heterosexual friends and family, should be welcomed and affirmed by the Church of England
Loving: the belief that God is love, and that life-long, faithful, stable same-sex relationships, and the relationships of those who undergo gender transition, should be celebrated by the Church of England
Serving: the belief that God calls LGBTI people to serve the world through the Church of England, and their ministries should be recognised and authorised
Within these pillars, the Group has nine concrete objectives that it will be working to achieve, which will deliver positive outcomes for LGBTI people within the Church of England. These include ensuring that LGBTI people are never denied access to baptism, confirmation, Holy Communion and funerals, as well as allowing those in same-sex marriages to become clergy.
Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission, said: “We believe that now is the time for the Church of England to practice what it preaches and show love towards its LGBTI neighbours. Often an assumption is made that there is a disconnect between LGBTI people and people of faith, when in fact we know that many LGBTI people are religious, and many faith groups support LGBTI equality. We’ve seen the church make huge strides towards equality in recent years, most notably through the 2014 legislation enabling women to become bishops, and it’s now essential that LGBTI equality is similarly cemented in our institution. We know that this is what most people in the Church of England want.
“We believe that each of the asks we’ve outlined is achievable and, frankly, essential. We hope that others who feel passionate about equality will help and join our campaign. People are people and should be treated equally and fairly; this is a fundamental part of what the church teaches us and it’s time we took tangible steps to ensure full acceptance and affirmation of LGBTI people.”
Members of the LGBTI Mission include: Simon Sarmiento, Vicky Beeching, Tracey Byrne, Canon Giles Goddard, Ruth Harley, Savi Hensman, the Rev Chris Newlands, the Rev Canon Steven Saxby, Jeremy Timm and Bishop Alan Wilson.
* LGBTI Mission http://lgbtimission.org.uk/.