The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, has appointed Fr Andrew Woodward, priest-in-charge of St Mary’s Kemp Town and Rural Dean of Brighton, as the first Bishop’s Liaison Officer for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersex LGBTi community in the Diocese of Chichester.
Fr Andrew’s job specification is to provide the bishops and parishes with up to date information about the pastoral needs of the LGBTi community and to make the church’s ministry among this community more effective.
The priest will “represent the church in this community so as to build bridges and enable pastoral support for a substantial group of people who feel the Church is alienated from them.”
A spokesman for the diocese added: “Many in the LBBTi community feel they are tolerated but not included.”
Dr Warner says: “This post is about pastoral bridges in line with our diocesan strategy, know, love, follow Jesus. It is primarily about building, opening and crossing new and existing bridges towards great understanding and mutual flourishing.”
The Bishop added: “I think it is important to stress that the post holder is not expected to be an advocate for change in legislation or theological position. Neither should the creation of this post be understood as establishing a particular policy change or a new direction of travel in the Diocese’s position on same-sex issues.”
For this relief, much thanks
Of course it is the responsibility of the church’s ministers constantly to be looking for ways in which to make their ministry among all people more effective. But I’ve got news for them:
There is no such thing as “The LGBTi community.”
There are individual LGBTi people but they do not live in community. Those who identify themselves by one of the letters LGBTi are simply making public their particular sexual preference.
Why anyone should wish to make public what always used to be regarded as a sensitive, personal and private matter is a question that defeats me. But nowadays, it seems, many feel the urge to advertise their sexuality. And the love that once dared not speak its name now shrieks at us at the top of its voice from lewd processions along the high street.
Inexplicably, perversely, this display is called “Pride.”
I wonder, is it only sexual deviants who are expected to announce to the general public their preferences? Perhaps I ought to draw together a crowd of my “straight” friends and process with a banner reading, “WE SLEPT WITH OUR WIVES LAST NIGHT.”
But there is a bigger issue and it centres on that word “community.”
Chichester diocese tells us that LGBTi people “feel alienated.” Well then, why do they insist on alienating themselves by self-identifying as a distinct community? Groups setting themselves up as “communities” received its reductio ad absurdum some years ago when The Independent newspaper, in all seriousness, wrote about, “London’s sadomasochistic community.” In the face of such utter barminess, satire becomes impossible.
The self-ascription of the word “community” by specific separatist groups actually destroys community and creates a multiplicity of sects. When this was practised in South Africa, the British political establishment condemned it as Apartheid. Why then when the very same thing is practised here is it applauded as “a celebration of diversity”?
There is one community in this country and we are all part of it. And to say otherwise is to destroy all possibility of social cohesion. Why don’t the authorities – religious or secular – understand this plain truth?