I long for the Church of England to be fully inclusive of the LGBT community and I look forward with impatience to the day when I can conduct my first same-sex marriage in church.
Nevertheless I believe that the letter published by over 100 leading Anglicans prior to the 2016 Anglican Primates Gathering was unhelpful. I do not disagree with its content but its timing is wrong and hinders more than it helps.
The Church of England has to move beyond the world of the lobbyist, pressure groups and party politics. PCCs, Synods, and Gatherings of Primates have to stop mimicking the ways of parliament and offer our society new models for discernment, of holding difference and discovering unity in diversity. The most likely outcome of this letter will be another letter from those holding a different point of view and no doubt with even more significant signatories and nothing will have progressed.
I am sure that Archbishop Welby is already more than aware of the strong feelings on this subject on all sides. This letter will tell him nothing he does not already know and is more likely to provoke those he is meeting than calm or inspire them.
Sometimes what is needed is deep silence, profound listening, few words and much wisdom. This is a time for gentleness, mutual respect and true Christian love. More words and the endless repetition of old positions will not help bring resolution nor a mere turning up of the volume.
It will only be before God, on our knees, acknowledging that before God we have all fallen short, that we are all sinners and aware that none of us hold the whole truth that the Anglican Communion can have a future. Healing and reconciliation can only come from a place of shared vulnerability and weakness and an openness to honour and embrace each other’s pain and distress. If a safe enough place can be created for this to happen then maybe, just maybe, we can stay in communion.
Archbishop Welby and the other Primates do not need any more letters or lobbying rather they need to be held before God in prayer and be given the privacy necessary so that a God-shaped encounter can happen.