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Senior Anglican Bishop to preside at special LGBT-friendly Eucharist

2016-11-25
The Bishop of Gloucester will celebrate at a service created by Inclusive Church, an LGBT-friendly network of Anglican Christians, on January 15 next year at St Bartholomew's Church in Gloucestershire, Christian Today reports. Rt. Rev Rachel Treweek will be the first senior diocesan bishop to lead an LGBT communion, it is believed. A spokesperson for the Gloucester Diocese confirmed the appearance in a statement, saying, "As part of Bishop Rachel's ministry she celebrates the Eucharist in many churches across her diocese, to worship with fellow Christians who are all loved and valued by God." Simon Sarmiento, spokesman for Inclusive Church, told Christian today that regular LGBT-inclusive services are held regularly in Manchester and Liverpool, and are focussed on "reaching out to a group that largely feels people aren't reaching out to them". He added: "These things are not under the counter or peculiar in any way. It is purely a pastoral activity. It is all about safe spaces." Predictably, however, some within the Church are less than happy with the news.
Rev James Paice, from conservative Anglican group GAFCON UK, has already criticised Treweek's involvement, describing it as "sending a very confused message."
"We say one thing about morality but here we are celebrating something else," he told Christian Today. 2016 has been a tumultuous year for the Anglican Church, with separate factions vehemently disagreeing on the direction the Church should take in regards to it's LGBT followers. In September, a letter signed by one third of members of the Church's governing body urged Anglican Bishops to welcome LGBT Christians, arguing that LGBT+ worshippers are "essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world”. Prior to this, 14 Bishops signed an open letter published in the Sunday Times asking for "greater inclusion" or LGBT people, in response to the Bishop of Grantham being forced to disclose his same-sex relationship after a newspaper threatened to out him. While some parts of the Church have come out in support of LGBT-inclusion, including the outgoing Bishop of Wales who became the most senior British figure in the Anglican church to support same-sex marriage in September, conservative Anglicans have warned of a potential split over the issue, with Rev. Peter Scanlon suggesting that anti-LGBT factions could "evolve into a new Anglican jurisdiction in England." More stories: Russell Tovey: ‘Being gay is the best thing that ever happened to me’ Interview: Jinkx Monsoon talks hangovers, heels, and who she wanted to win All Stars 2