at the Synod of the Diocese of Brisbane, October 2018...
I am speaking to this motion out of my long experience with many in the LGBTI+ community, and of course out of my own long and flourishing marriage. Jo and I married in England over thirty-three years ago. Our love for each other and the support of our faith took us through the birth of twins and the sleepless nights; the deaths of some we loved; numerous changes of role, ministry and home, including emigrating to Australia. In recent years we have seen the marriages of our daughters – one in a church; but the other, sadly, with a civil celebrant, because despite her faith, our daughter could not countenance marriage in a church that did not equally value her LGBTI+ friends – and she is by no means alone in this stance; I echo the experience of Canon Harch.
In the early days of our marriage, Jo dried my tears as synod after synod in the Church of England rejected the ordination of women. So now it is my turn. As in recent years she has transitioned from male to female, our blessed marriage has supported us as she has been enabled to heal and grow. It is distressing to us to realise that had Josephine transitioned before our marriage, we could not have been married in church, and still could not be – or even blessed.
From our perspective this motion does not go remotely far enough and I pray we may one day move to the broad inclusiveness of such places as the USA, Scotland, Brazil, New Zealand and soon I hope my native Wales. In this motion, what we are offering to LGBTI+ people present here, and those known to us in the wider community, including my newly friendly, dog-owning gay neighbor – what we offer in this motion are really only crumbs of comfort.
However under certain conditions, crumbs can save your life. So my words to you today are those of the Syro-Phoenician woman to Jesus; “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table.” Currently we bless dogs – but not faithful, loving LGBTI+ relationships.
So – let us at least share the dogs’ crumbs! And indeed, let us remember what God in Christ can do with crumbs – “12 baskets full” come to mind; 12 of course for the 12 tribes of Israel – the transformed kingdom-based community as the Archbishop reminded us in his fine sermon last night.
So give us your crumbs – and let’s see what the glorious, generous abundance of God can do with them. For we can be sure it will be broader than the measure of our minds. I support the motion.
by the Revd Penny Jones