Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Dear Anonymous UK GAFCON Guy

Dear anonymous UK GAFCON person,

In response to your recent document which ‘names and shames’ the Lambeth-Violators (of which it seems you think I’m one), I thought I’d take a moment to write back.

To write to you is really hard. Not because I’m especially upset by your piece (despite it acting as a potential invite to target individuals), but because (ironically, given you’ve named lots of people in your document), you’ve not revealed your name. It’s very hard to humanise a generic voice. And, well, despite the violence implied by your words, I’d rather not respond in kind. I’d rather prefer to speak to you as a human being and Christian sister/brother.

It’s also difficult to write to you as there’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to give oxygen to your position. I suspect it’s helpful for the GAFCON position to generate ‘controversy’. I hope that doesn’t do a disservice to you, but a binary mentality does rather depend on its opponent, doesn’t it?

However, I wanted to say to you, anonymous UK GAFCON guy (sorry! In my head, you are a guy), you are, despite the aggression in your document, still part of the family. God loves you and, well, I’d rather like to say ‘I love you.’ Because I think that, despite the unpleasantness of your actions, I think we’re called to love each other. And that’s blooming hard given what you said, but Christ never said it would be easy.

We are, at a profound level, still family. Family, of course, is a difficult metaphor for Church, because families are both places which can be springboards for human excellence as well as the scenes of abuse and violence.

However, I still want to say, we’re family. I suspect that – to develop the metaphor – we’re very distantly related and it’s unlikely we’re ever going to want to spend much time together, but…family, nonetheless. Christ remains central. And while it would be easy for me to cast you as the embarrassing uncle or aunt who holds deeply questionable views and who should be kept out of sight (just as, for you, I’m possibly a version of the criminal child who never should be mentioned) I’d rather not do that. I’d like to believe in the wideness of God’s mercy and the generosity of God’s parental love. I might wish you’d change your position, but I’m not going to dare pronounce you anathema just because your position is entrenched. If I am inclined to code you as ‘enemy’ (as you would me), that is an invitation to redouble the work of grace.

Having said that, I know that I speak from a position of privilege. Your words are not, for me, especially wounding. However, insofar as your position is a springboard for the diminishment of the weakest and most vulnerable and the victimization of LGBTI people, may God call you to account.

As you might be aware, the list you’ve come up with has rather been claimed as a list of honour by many. I’ve had various people from all traditions getting in touch asking to be added to the list. I suspect your action only indicates how far the Church – evangelical as well as Catholic and liberal – has moved on from your particular vision of holiness.

But – despite it being hard for me to say – I don’t want to lose you. Please don’t cut yourself off. I hope that all of us – people who want to be faithful to the hope that lies within us – can turn towards the one who is all in all and whose peace exceeds our understanding.

May God be gracious to us all and bless us.

Best,

Rachel

30 comments:

  1. Thank you Rachel. You are beautiful.

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  2. Thank you for showing that Love will always win. Big hugs.

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  3. Perfect response - overwhelming love shown

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  4. Thanks Rachel, a wise and considered response

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  5. Fabulous. You shame them with a love they cannot show themselves.

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  6. Wow�� You dug deep for that. Respect!

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  7. Beautiful response and so full of love and grace.

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  8. Thank you Rachel, at last I see in the church a Christ-like response of grace so sadly lacking in many quarters

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  9. Wow, this is an amazing response. Thank you Rachel! A true response in God's love!

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  10. The best, bravest response. That must have been hard to make true.

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  11. Your reply is filled with so much grace....the GRACE OF THE GOSPEL. I am not sure that many could make this response.

    Thank you, for being you.

    Ian

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  12. Dear Rachel, while I commend your demeanour in responding to something which is clearly upsetting to you, I struggle to agree with your premise, namely that Gafcon has "named and shamed Lambeth violators," thus bringing about "a potential invite to target individuals". It seems that "The document lists public actions taken by individuals who are very proud of what they have been doing. In many of these cases, these activists were actively courting the media in order that their violations of Lambeth 1.10 would have the greatest possible impact." To criticise Gafcon for bringing out into the open something that the people concerned were already publicly acknowledging seems to be a little disingenuous on your part. While I acknowledge the difficulty that we have as a church faced with a great deal of internal division over this issue, for us to progress in any way I would suggest that we move away from sensationalism and towards real conversation which listens and acknowledges differences of opinion, while holding on to our shared hope in the redemption of our lives through Jesus death on the cross for all mankind. I know that you will treat this response with the same consideration and care that you treat all of your followers, and I trust that they will follow your example. Yours in the service of Christ
    Dave

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    1. Hi Dave, I wonder if you and I are reading the same document. In the first instance this whole pot of poo is so far away from any sense of Matthew 18:15 that I cannot believe the folk at Gafcon have chosen to deviate from the Gospel. Secondly so many of the references are based on newspaper reports - are you serious in you suggestion that this makes the piece ok and finally what about the Dioceses named for what this anonymous ass describes as ambigouity? How does that get resolved, how do the wounds get healed?

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  13. Thank you Rachel for your words of vulnerable authenticity.

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  14. Thank you Rachel. May we all show such grace in the face of much that we know has caused pain to friends and family who struggle and feel very vulnerable and are so far from the position of rebellion of which they are accused.

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  15. Well said and beautifully written Rachel. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Patrick

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  16. Thank you for your wonderful grace-full response

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  17. Just beautiful, Rachel. As I would expect from you. But I know how much it costs at times... x

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  18. What a wonderful, and inspiring, letter!

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  19. What an honest, awesome and powerful letter! So beautifully said.

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  20. Thank you Rachel for your words of grace

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  21. Beautifully written response.

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  22. Wonderful reply that speaks volumes of the love of God in your heart

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  23. Beautiful writing which, unlike the GAFCON article which stirred up this hornets nest, does not seek to hide its author behind a mask of anonymity and reaches out a conciliatory hand. I fear that the hand will not be grasped but no-one could accuse the victims of this finger-pointing of running away.

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  24. Thank you Rachel - your blog shows such generosity of spirit and grace. x

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  25. I only wish I had your grace and loving spirit. Well said.

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