A Living Apology: Anglican Church Southern Queensland

As I prepare to move to Melbourne to pursue my calling with my partner and leave the Gold Coast, this will be my last post before I become a Melbournian. I reflect on a significant moment for our faith community. This week, the Anglican Church Southern Queensland resolved at Synod to issue an apology to LGBTQIA+ people, a process I had advocated for and contributed to. Here are the details of the apology wording shared by Archbishop Jeremy Greaves KCSJ titled "One of the important motions passed at the Anglican Church Southern Queensland synod".

As we look forward to the formal apology event that Archbishop and The Very Rev'd Dr. Peter Catt are planning, I have taken some time to gather reactions from our community before sharing this story.

My colleague Rev Dr. Josephine Inkpin shared her thoughts on this milestone: "I am not generally a big fan of church apologies to LGBTIQ+ folk—as (like many apologies to First Nations peoples) they are so easily ‘cheap grace’, and lack meaningful reparations and active repentance (which you’d think would be basic for Jesus followers). However, where there is a genuine attempt to LIVE Apology out—what queer UCA leaders call a ‘Living Apology’, with clear intent and steps —this is something some of us can at least work with, even where our full dignity is simply not negotiable. I’m pleased therefore by what I believe is a genuine step forward by my former Anglican diocese in the diocesan Apology issued by its Synod this week. Whilst I’d like to see what the next steps are—beyond a welcome promised major event with the Archbishop—this has been part of a reconciling process which has invited queer folk like me to contribute and has been led by Anglican leaders like the Dean of Brisbane who are truly affirming. I therefore thank my wonderful church siblings in Southern Queensland warmly for all they have done and continue to do and pray that this may continue to bear living fruit (even with the current limits and pressures set by other Anglicans in Sydney-style)."

While I share Dr. Inkpins position, this apology from the Anglican Church Southern Queensland is a profound moment. It recognizes and rejoices in the image of God reflected in every human being, regardless of race, social circumstance, sexual identity, or orientation. It acknowledges the pain felt by sexuality-diverse and gender-diverse people who feel like second-class citizens due to their inability to marry in the Anglican Church of Australia. The apology lists specific grievances, including non-acceptance, denigration, exclusion from sacraments, advocacy for criminalization, harmful practices like ‘Conversion Therapy,’ isolation, and mistreatment. It also apologizes to the families and friends of LGBTQIA+ people for the hurt they have endured due to the Church’s actions.

Rev Deborah Bird and Dr Peter Catt's speeches at the Synod outlined the process and intentions behind the apology. They emphasized that a genuine apology must be clear, unequivocal, and devoid of self-justification. They also highlighted the importance of listening to those affected, acknowledging the impact of past actions, and demonstrating a commitment to change. Dr. Peter Catt has also mentioned that they are creating a lament inspired by my submissions, which he hopes will be incorporated alongside the apology.

As a lay member of this Diocese, I would like to share my thoughts on this apology. While it represents a step forward, there remain significant issues that need to be addressed.. The lack of affirming same-sex marriage remains a point of contention. Many in the community feel that being tolerated is not enough—they seek genuine affirmation. There are concerns about the lack of emphasis on gender identity and the position of those in same-sex marriages pursuing ordained ministry. Despite these shortcomings, the conversation was peer-led, and those leading the process are truly affirming. We must continue advocating for equality and meaningful actions that fully affirm the dignity and relationships of queer folk.

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg author of The Art of Apology holds a perspective that resonates deeply with our community. She emphasizes that an apology should include confession, demonstration of change, restitution, and transformation in the way of life. This aligns with the call for more than just words—it calls for actions that demonstrate genuine repentance and commitment to justice.

Anthony Venn-Brown, OAM, highlighted the impact of apologies, noting the profound effect of the 2008 100 REVS apology. Each apology reaches different groups and signifies ownership of past wrongs. He expressed hope that one day even the Sydney Diocese might issue a similar apology, acknowledging that while this might seem like a dream, it creates opportunities for social transformation.

As I leave the Gold Coast, I am filled with gratitude for everyone who has contributed to this journey of reconciliation and healing. I thank those who have bravely shared their stories, those who have listened with empathy, and those who have worked tirelessly to bring about this apology. This is a significant step, but it is only the beginning. We must continue to push for not only apologies but also meaningful actions and policies that fully affirm the dignity and relationships of queer christians. Let us give thanks for this moment and remain committed to advocating for true equality and justice.

Photo Source: Josephine Inkpin Facebook

A Living Apology: Anglican Church Southern Queensland A Living Apology: Anglican Church Southern Queensland Reviewed by Shane St Reynolds on June 25, 2024 Rating: 5

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