Three days after returning from Greenbelt, I've had some time to process my impressions of this year's festival. I've realised that the main division at Greenbelt - a leading Christian festival - is not between liberals and conservatives but between liberals and radicals.
Vicky Beeching's decision to come out publicly as a lesbian is so important because she is such a prominent figure in evangelical circles. As I mentioned on this blog yesterday (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20744), there is good evidence that the news has given many other gay Christians the confidence to come out.
It’s five days since top Christian singer Vicky Beeching came out as gay. Evangelical Christianity in Britain is still shaking with the impact of this earthquake, whose effects will be felt for years and probably decades.
Clergy and laypersons should not get into trouble for marrying their same-sex partners, the Methodist Church in Britain agreed. For the time being, only opposite-sex couples will be allowed to marry in church. But a two-year period of study and discussion will examine whether this should change.
This week, I've seen two movements that I love become sullied by complicity with the arms trade.
First, Church House (a leading Christian conference centre) hosted a gathering of arms dealers and generals. Now, London LGBT Pride are about to allow a section of this week's march to be used to publicise a company that is complicit in homophobia– and other human rights abuses – around the world.
Pastors can, if they wish, marry same-sex couples in areas where this is legal, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has decided. The general assembly also called for a change in how marriage is defined, if a majority of presbyteries agree.
Ministers in the Baptist Union of Great Britain who bless same-sex partnerships will no longer be disciplined for doing so if they have the support of their local church. I think this is brilliant news.
New Zealand’s Anglican church has agree to explore ways of blessing same-sex relationships, while protecting the freedom of those who disagree. Meanwhile senior Church of England clergy have warned that opposing inclusion is undermining Christian witness.
People who defend themselves by saying “My words were taken out of context” sometimes have a good point. It is possible to misrepresent someone, either deliberately or accidentally, by quoting their words out of context. However, a UKIP candidate in Portsmouth has stretched this defence to breaking point. He has also attempted some creative redefinitions of common English words.