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Church of England to launch LGBT congregation

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A congregation specifically for individuals who identify as LGBT will be launched this summer by the Church of England. 

Monthly services for the initiative, True North, will begin in August and are to be held in the Diocese of Lichfield.

Rev Monica Arnold, one of the organisers of the initiative, claimed that it aims to "supplement and support" Christians who identify as LGBT.

'We do not see this as a stand-alone event'

Rev Arnold said: "There has been a need for something like this for some while. While debate rages on, passionately, at the highest levels of the Church of England, LGBT people continue to live with the realities of their daily life and the mixed reception many receive in parishes. An opportunity to worship and enjoy fellowship without hiding or denying a fundamental aspect of their identity is so important to all aspects of healthy life."

Christian Concern’s Chief Executive, Andrea Williams, responded: "This is concerning, since sexual orientation is not integral to a person’s identity. Such a claim implies that this behaviour cannot be challenged."

Rev Arnold continued: "Our intention with True North is to supplement and support LGBTI Christians to go out and serve the Lord in their own parishes and communities, knowing they are loved by God. We do not see this as a stand-alone event but one that is truly part of the body of Christ within Lichfield Diocese."

Services will take place initially as St Matthew's Walsall, despite most of the church’s leaders opposing same-sex 'marriage'.

Rev Jim Trood, the vicar of St Matthew’s, said that he welcomed the initiative, as although he and "many of the leadership at St Matthews hold a traditional view on human sexuality, LGBT Christians are first and foremost children of God and made in his image."


'God-given sexual identity'

The Bishop of Wolverhampton, Rt Rev Clive Gregory also supported the move, saying: "I understand why LGBTI Christians feel the need for a place to meet and worship where they can feel secure and supported in their God-given sexual identity. They will be very much part of our Diocese and I will look forward to worshipping with them in due course."

'Come as you are, don’t stay as you are'

Andrea Williams refuted the initiative, stating: "The language used in this initiative is a twisting of the gospel message.

"We as the church do need to be inviting people to come as they are, but not allow them to stay as they are. Churches should not turn away anyone who comes repentant and truly willing to encounter a Saviour who will change them. This is how we can truly love those who identify as LGBT.

"But instead, this initiative appears to be creating an environment where someone’s same-sex attraction is not only accepted, but encouraged and affirmed. It will further normalise homosexual behaviour and isolate people from other mature and grounded Christians who could provide support for those wishing to change."

False and dangerous

Responding to the statement by the Bishop of Wolverhampton, she said: "The Bishop of Wolverhampton makes a false and dangerous claim by saying that same-sex attraction is 'God-given'. This is contrary to Scripture and undermines the Creation order of one-man, one-woman marriage, that is designed to be a reflection of Christ and His bride, the Church. Claiming that homosexuality, or indeed bisexuality, is God-given suggests that God condones same-sex relationships. This, as is apparent throughout His Word, is not the case."

Andrea continued: "There may be some within the congregation who wish to move away from unwanted same-sex attraction and accordingly seek help. Will the church support them in this and provide them the help they seek?

"If the church condones acting on same-sex attraction, this would be blatant disobedience to God’s Word. It is extremely disappointing that a church whose leaders claim to oppose same-sex 'marriage' should be in favour of this idea. Sadly, it appears to be another step towards the approval of same-sex ‘marriage’ within the Church of England."

'Unity' at the expense of truth

The Church of England's discussions on same-sex 'marriage' were touched upon at February’s General Synod and are set to continue at July’s Synod.

In February, both Andrea Williams and Wilberforce Director Joe Boot wrote pieces highlighting how the church’s push for unity must not be at the expense of biblical truth.

Help for unwanted same-sex attraction

Do you or somebody you know experience unwanted same-sex attraction? If so there is help available.

The Core Issues Trust offers Christian counselling for those voluntarily seeking to change their sexual preference and expression and to live in accordance with God’s Word.

Visit the Core Issues Trust website and read more about their stance.

Related Links: 
New LGBTI congregation in Lichfield Diocese (Diocese of Lichfield)
'No unity at the expense of truth': A response to Justin Welby's Presidential Address 
Spiritually discerning the redefinition of marriage