from 4 to 10 January 2010
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Become a force to be reckoned with
First, I would thank Catherine Dillon for her
letter. While I acknowledge her pain, inherent in the exclusion she describes her
encounter with a local Rector, I personally do not think it is generally useful to confront a Rector/Priest after a service (or before it) with the question “Is this church a gay-friendly
church?” Most clergy, and their congregations, are not equipped or competent to welcome strangers who ask such direct questions into their midst. I hasten to add that this is a personal view
as a Counsellor of same sex attracted people many of whom continue to go to church in Australia. From my own observation the response of congregations varies greatly– ranging from,
at best, loving acceptance of the person to, at worst, complete indifference and covert and overt hostility. From what I have been told, so often, indifference is the “killer” attitude
which ultimately drives SSA people from congregations. When they are ignored they are not accepted. There are also in most parishes a very small band of the faithful who are great nurturers
and encouragers who provide “the healing balm of Gilead” to those souls patient enough to endure the indifference and who stay for all kinds of reasons – least of all because
they have no where else to go.
Because “deep calls to deep” there are parishes where groups of SSA people (and countless groups of people) establish themselves and become a force to be reckoned with in the church
community in much the same way as they can become a potent force in a university community, a government services community , school or hospital. Faction driven work-places or worship places
can be very toxic environments and people soon leave such places for their own good - because they are not accepted and because they bear all the hallmarks of cultish behaviour.
Catherine’s encounter and experience is disturbing because it challenges us to change – never a comfortable experience. Many of us are just not ready or able to leave our own comfort
zones. However, it is also a challenge to be more inclusive, more welcoming and more loving – with real strategies and without excuses or “buts”.
I would encourage Catherine to return to a church community where she can experience loving acceptance as a person. I would also
tell her that refugees often describe similar experiences when they attempt to enter church communities. I have been working with refugees and asylum seekers for a long time now and I find
it personally offensive when I am told that someone has attended church services for over 10 weeks and literally no-one has welcomed them or made them feel welcome.
Thankfully this is not the norm in Sydney and most congregations are rising to the challenges of a multicultural society.
I would challenge church leaders to set up organizations and apostolates for SSA people. The Catholic Church has a wide network
of Courage groups both here and overseas (especially in America) and provides an excellent model. I am sure Catherine would find a welcome in a local Courage group . For those who are interested
just Google Courage Apostolate for more information and details.
St Paul-of-the Cross, Dulwich Hill
4 January 2010
Doesn't it repel saber-tooth tigers?
Ancient peoples probably
had a great deal more to worry about than struggling with making a really good puff pastry.
I once thought I might like to give it a whirl but, after reading the recipe, thought better of
it. Temperature and proportions are critical - much like our Communion - for puff pastry to be successful. While very delicious, it really isn't easy - again, much like our Communion!
Have a blessed Epiphany.
Fr. Carlton Kelley
Richmond, Indiana, USA
6 January 2010
I read with interest the news item regarding the former army padre who likes the conviviality of a drink with comrades at his local
Legion and perhaps uses the odd cuss word with the wrong people. How sad that people can be so petty and judgemental. There is a lot more wrong with this sad old world about which church
people should be concerned. A good start would be to take a hard look at ourselves (ie remove the 'beam from our own eye' as in the Sermon on the Mount)and leave other people alone.
Fr Grahame Thompson
St Mary's/ St Luke's Chapel CFB Gagetown
Fredericton, New Brunswick, CANADA
6 January 2010
For starters, obviously not Nigeria
Hello, folks. Thanks
for all you do. I have a question that I hope one of your readers might be able to help with. I am wondering which churches in the Anglican Communion
allow participation of lay persons in the election of Bishops. I know that the USA and Canandian churches do, but can not seem to find any mention about other churches' practice on chosing
Lake Shastina, California
7 January 2010
(Editor: if you can contribute towards an answer to this question, tell us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
and we'll forward the information on to Ms Hunter.)
our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published