Letter to the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Copies to:- the Diocesan Bishops of Swansea and Brecon, Bangor, St Asaph, Monmouth, St Davids and Bishop Designate of Llandaff.
I see that you have written to the GAFCON Archbishops to tell them that you ‘do not consider the appointment of a “Missionary Bishop” to be necessary.’
Of course, it shouldn’t be necessary and it would be a great shame if the Church in England, where it all began, should be seen to be in need of support from outside. However, I think a Missionary Bishop here in Wales might actually ensure the survival of the Church in Wales for a few more years, or even in the long term.
May I tell you a little about myself, where I come from and where I am at the moment, because I think I speak for many in the Principality?
I was baptized into the Anglican church in September, 1937 and have been a lifelong Anglican. My mother read her Bible daily and encouraged me to be confirmed and to explore my faith by reading the Bible and attending Bible Study groups.
I am not a Traditionalist. I supported the ordination of women originally, and have been fortunate enough to know many of those first women priests. They wanted to serve their God and genuinely believed that they had been called to do so. They were not feminists and they had no hidden feminist agenda.
You make it plain what the situation is in the Church of England when you say, “I want to reiterate that there are no changes in the liturgy, the situation or in the rules regarding human sexuality in the Church of England.” Having listened on-line to Dr Jeffrey John preaching in Liverpool Cathedral I’m not sure that is absolutely true.
In any case I live in Wales. Here we do things differently.
You say in your letter: ‘I would like to remind you of the 1988 Lambeth Conference resolution number 72 on episcopal responsibilities and diocesan boundaries. This resolution reaffirms the historical position of respect for diocesan boundaries and the authority of bishops within these boundaries.’
There you have my problem in a nutshell. The bishop of my diocese encouraged the vicar of my village church to enter into a civil partnership and then made her his LGBTQI+ Chaplain. Since then they have pursued a policy to encourage and exult gay rights with lectures, films, and special services. I believe firmly and sincerely in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, preferably for life. That puts me out of the reach of the ‘patience, humility or gentleness’ you hope will be shown to people who believe different “truths.” The attitude towards me is “like it or lump it.”
Marriage: one man and one woman, devoting themselves to each other and to any children they may have. Close knit, stable families of three and even four generations, have a strength and breadth of wisdom and vision that enable the individuals in that family to withstand the inevitable troubles and tragedies of life. It also gives a family the courage to stand up for truth and honesty.
Obviously, same sex relationships are not the marriages described in the Bible. As far as I can see Shared Conversations have not worked and never can work. There has to be another way.
With the end of parishes and the establishment of Mission Areas there are now many ways of offering alternative church services to people of different persuasions. Surely one church among the nine or so in my Mission Area could be devoted to people like me. All we want is a simple service, which follows the prayer book, where there is no re-interpretation of the Bible for the sake of secular trends or political correctness, and where responding to the needs of the poor is more important than sex.
My current bishop is unlikely to let this happen but a missionary bishop might, and that would make my life incomparably richer.
I remain, Your Grace, most sincerely and faithfully, albeit unwillingly,
An Anglican Misfit.