The House of Bishops of the Church of England recently released a ‘pastoral statement’ on civil partnerships which has received considerable attention in the press, and has caused controversy in the church and beyond. This is our considered response:
All Hallows’ Church Leeds Response to the Bishops’ ‘Pastoral Statement’
The statement has caused a lot of
anger and pain among many church members and other Christians. This particularly
applies to those whose relationships, in which they express and experience
intimacy, love and grace, the statement declares to be ‘falling short of God’s
purposes for human beings’.
At All Hallows Church, we would
like to affirm our understanding of being a Christian community:
We are trying
to respond to the challenge of Jesus of Nazareth to love God, ourselves and
others, exploring the meaning of God’s love for all people — women, men, black,
white, gay, straight, older, younger, of faith or no faith — and looking to
meet the needs of people who feel damaged or marginalised. With others in the
area, we work for justice, reconciliation and to inspire hope. Desmond Tutu’s
phrase ‘the rainbow people of God’ underlies our use of the rainbow symbol —
coming from a variety of backgrounds, ages and lifestyles, we celebrate and
affirm our God-given diversity.
To our regret, because of the
Church of England’s official policy, at All Hallows we are not legally
permitted to conduct civil partnerships or same-sex weddings.
However, before being Anglican,
we are called to be Christian. And to be Christian means to believe in God who
bestows divine blessing on people who live together in love and unity (Psalm
133). Hence, we do celebrate this blessing with members of our community,
regardless of the legal form of their relationship. Our congregation includes
people in a wide variety of relationships, and we are grateful for the diverse
ways in which they witness to God’s love.
We pray for a time when the
church will acknowledge and embrace the diversity of God’s creation and the
radical and inclusive nature of God’s love. We hope that the Church of
in Love and Faith project will produce resources that will help the church
to engage with questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and
sexuality in an open and affirming way.
The process of change in the
Church of England is slow. At All Hallows we advocate for and work for that
change, and in the meantime we provide a welcoming space to all the rainbow
people of God.
This Sunday is Visit my Mosque Sunday, a national initiative facilitated by the Muslim Council of Britain encouraging 250+ mosques across the UK to hold open days to welcome in their neighbours from all faiths and none and building bridges across communities. In Leeds we are invited to the following Mosques:
This is a great opportunity to find out more about our neighbours and their faith. If you are visiting a Mosque we are asked to respect their culture and faith by dressing accordingly ie long trousers or long skirt and women to wear a head covering.
Last night we had all sorts of ‘fun’ with death, with the help of this beautiful ofrenda.
This gift from Mexico is with us all week! And will be the focus of our worship next Sunday morning – so please bring a photo or special memento of someone important to you who has died to place onto the ofrenda in celebration and remembrance of them. We are also hosting St Michael’s and St Chad’s to mark our ‘church birthday’ (or patronal festival) of All Hallows’ so do please bring some food to share with them over lunch if you are able.
Everything is Connected: A lively discussion about identity, justice, and peace
Pull just one strand in our world and see how deeply it is connected to many others. In this entertaining and insightful presentation, Ruth Wilde and Peterson Toscano join forces to reveal strange and often unseen connections in the world. Drawing on ancient stories, comedy, and insights from their travels, they weave together a tapestry that covers identity, LGBTQ issues, climate change, justice, peace, and much much more.
After spending 17 years and over $30,000 on three continents attempting to de-gay himself through gay conversion therapy, Peterson Toscano came to his senses and came out as an American quirky queer Quaker concerned with human rights and comedy. He asks himself and his audiences unusual and stimulating questions: Who are the gender outlaws in the Bible? What is a queer response to climate change? and How can comedy help us better understand our most tragic losses? A Bible scholar, a comic, and public speaker, Peterson is on a mission to connect with his audiences in deeply personal ways stirring up hope and purpose in a rapidly changing world.
Ruth is the UK Outreach Worker for Christian Peacemaker Teams. She also works as National Coordinator for Inclusive Church, so she understands how oppressions can intersect, and how climate change is ‘sexist, racist and classist’. Ruth has known about the oppression of / racism against indigenous peoples since she went on a CPT delegation to Grassy Narrows First Nation, Ontario, Canada in 2011. Now she sees clearly that climate change is also ‘racist’ against indigenous peoples and she thinks this is painfully ironic because they are often the humans who live the most sustainably and most in harmony with the earth. This makes her more determined than ever to educate and speak out about what is happening to indigenous peoples around the world!
In addition, Peterson and Ruth will also be leading a Dig Deeper workshop on Saturday 29th April at All Hallows. Ruth Wilde and Peterson Toscano stir up lots of discussion in their lively presentations. In order to deepen the experience and help communities figure out their next steps, they offer a facilitated discussion that includes small and large group activities designed to dig deeper into the issues raised during their presentation. Come to share your insights and to engage in others in conversation about making the world a better place for all.
‘Creationtide’ or the ‘Season of Creation’ is the period in the annual church calendar from 1st September (the Day of Prayer for Creation) to 4th October (the feast day of St. Francis) set apart for us to pray and celebrate with creation, focus on the story of Earth, and commit to a ministry of healing the Earth.
This Creationtide why not commit to spending some time each day thinking about our impact on our environment and all the creatures that share it with us and making some changes in our lives that will lead to the regeneration of the Earth rather than it’s destruction? You may like to use this action sheet produced but the Church of England.
Father of all creation, we thank you that you
have given us a world rich in resources,
and made us stewards of your mysteries;
help us to act responsibly,
not wasting or destroying what we do not need,
not polluting the earth, or sea or sky,
that we may act with love towards all things,
and so reflect the great love that you have for the world.
Be with us, Lord God, Creator of all,
to strengthen us on our journey,
to guide us in all our doings,
that we may share in the love and care for your world.
from Adam D. (1996) The Rhythm of Life: Celtic Daily Prayer SPCK, London
Last Saturday Leeds was visited by members of the English Defence League, a far-right group who are racist and fascist. A rally and march protesting against what the EDL stands for was organised. In several conversations before the events we asked why is it that we always seem to put our energies into being anti something instead of pro something and so it was great to see so many people out on the streets of Leeds celebrating that, in the words of the great Jo Cox “we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”
Against hate – FOR HOPE.
Against fascism – FOR FREEDOM.
Against EDL – FOR EVERYONE!
‘Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.’ — 1 Corinthians 13
Here are some photos from the event and a video of Heston speaking on the Town Hall steps with our great friend Adam Aslam
Yesterday Heston and Lydia received the “Improving Community Relations Prize 2018” on behalf of All Hallows from the Leeds Muslim Youth Forum at their Eid Celebrations.
Below is a photo of the award and the text from the presentation.
Improving Community Relations Award
Awarded by Zahra Nasir from Leeds Muslim Youth Forum at an Eid Celebration 23 June 2018
Places of faith are increasingly under scrutiny as religion becomes something blamed for many of the ills in society.
However our next winner is a faith leader who is committed to building rapport will all communities and a real example to faith leaders from the Muslim community.
For many years his establishment has been a sanctuary for people experiencing injustice. Upset by the way in which many of our fellow human beings have been treated, and by the way in which they have not been offered hospitality and support when they have needed it, they play a significant part in seeking justice for people coming to the UK hoping for asylum and who then found themselves held in detention centres.
They have provided support in all sorts of ways to people seeking safety – in doing so learning that journeying together is the best way to share God’s love in this situation and that one person cannot do it alone.
With others in the Hyde Park area, they work for justice, reconciliation and to inspire hope – working with people coming from a variety of backgrounds, ages and lifestyles, and celebrating the diversity in our communities.
For living up to the values captured in their strap line of “Loving, Living and Learning”, the winner of the Improving Community Relations Award is…
This evening we celebrated a Seder Meal / Eucharist and Footwashing with the wonderful David Winston ensuring we don’t forget the Jewishness of this evening. We were reminded that this meal has a history going back unbroken through time to the Exodus, each element of the meal referring to a part of the story about how the people of Israel were freed from slavery in Egypt, how they travelled through the wilderness to the promised land. Amongst the elements the unleavened bread, the herbs, salt water, horse radish sauce, lamb (yam in our case!) and the drinking of the four cups, all have important meaning in the story and I particularly found the third cup of liberation very moving.
Our visiting preacher for Pride Sunday was Jonathon Tallon who also hosted a “Christians in Conversation” at All Hallows on the Saturday afternoon before Pride Sunday. He has allowed us to publish his PowerPoint presentation and bibliography here as a resource on the topic of “Terror Texts” – those passages in the Bible that are used to condemn but may actually be taken out of context and misunderstood.