Monday 9 January 2012

Apparently I'm a leper now #lgbt

According to a conference that is being held in Orangefield Presbyterian Church I am a leper. The conference in organised by Core Issues who encourage reparative therapy for LGBT people who struggle to reconcile this with their faith.

The opening quote inside their literature make horrific reading (emphasis mine)

Failure to live out the reality of Jesus Christ’s presence in the common life of the church with those who struggle with same sex sins is a disease of epic proportions, a malignancy that
spreads throughout the Body and resurfaces as the Evangelical, Biblebelieving church attempts to deal with other sin issues. This failure is merely symptomatic of other deeper issues within the body, diseases that are not so easily identifiable nor that carry the same stigma or bigotry: spiritual complacency and ambivalence, hypocrisy, unaccountability and Biblical ignorance.”
- The Lepers Among Us
Of course where does that stigma and bigotry come from?

This has spurred me to write the following email to the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's Board of Social Witness and the congregations involved.

As someone baptised into Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bangor where I currently attend I am appalled to learn that the Rev Jim Reynolds is holding a conference entitled:
The Leper Among Us: Homosexuality and Life in the Church 
on the premises of Orangefield Presbyterian Church and on the Sunday shall be preaching at Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church.
The title of such a conference victimises and diminishes LGBT people which seems to be in direct contravention of recommendation 2 of the Board of Social Witness's Social Issues and Resources Panel Pastoral guidelines Homosexuality (March 2007).
Fails to "encourage our congregations to ’Create an environment of love, acceptance, patience, forgiveness and grace." as in recommendation 4 as above.
In creates the feeling of unsafe spaces in these two congregations and potentially others in the PCI, when recommendation 5 called to create a safe space, which I believe has not yet been achieved.
The controversial methods espoused by Rev. Reynolds are things that I would never expect to a member congregation of the General Assembly to host. As one of the LGBT attendees of the PCI (currently not a member due to your guideline) maybe I am a Leper in your eyes. I am already excluded from full membership. Maybe you would want me to sound a bell and stay outside the building on a Sunday. Maybe you'd like me to get an extra long lead so that I can play my bass guitar to help lead worship so as I do not come inside the precincts of the building.
Of maybe both the congregations involved will take the time available to live up to recommendation 3 in the pastoral guidelines:

encourage repentance for the occasions when persons with same sex attractions have been treated in ways severely lacking in grace within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and that the Assembly encourage an attitude of grace and mercy to be actively shown to all who struggle with different aspects of their sexuality.
I'm hurt by the failure of adherence to your own pastoral guidelines. I'm hurt by the lack of action on those recommendations from 2007. I'm hurt by the treatment of LGBT members by the congregations to be associated with someone who names them lepers within. These actions are lacking in the grace that the Board of Social Witness recommendations sought to deal with. 

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