We're delighted to be hosting the Rainbow Christians Together Faith@WorldPride event on ShroveTuesday (aka the original Mardi Gras) at Pitt Street Uniting Church - with food, great music, wonderful speakers, worship and fabulous friends
(and yes, we hope to live-stream the event too for those who can't join us onsite)
Wonderful this afternoon, at Pitt St UC, to host pastors from the Asia-Pacific region of the EKD (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland) - a federation of Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant churches - talking First Nations recognition, progressive theology, climate change, ecumenical fruitfulness and other good things
A beautiful gift of a scarf made by an Indian women’s project of the ecumenical Bangalore United Theological College was also received - a lovely blessing signifying love and faith across our global connections - not to mention chocolate too!
Not an original reflection I’m sure, but sometimes it becomes apparent that being a hitherto lifelong, if very ecumenical, Anglican (liberal Catholic variety) in the Uniting Church as an institution is like being an Apple using cat in a Microsoft dog world - fortunately I do love dogs (generally so much more outwardly friendlier and more sociable for one thing - except when roused or bemused lol - than many felines ) and I can operate Windows operating systems positively (though I can’t stop thinking occasionally how other creative wonks and wrinkles might offer a few possible ecclesial improvements as well as save time and help creativity ). Handiest of all, I also don’t really believe in binaries. But it can be a wee bit taxing at times.
PS I’m really really not sure about this cartoon as an analogy - certainly mainstream Anglicanism is thankfully both equippped with a clearer, simpler and less fussy system (well, yes, ‘method’ to be more accurate - what kind of a cat wants a ‘system’?!) but, unlike Apple. it is also so very messy (and hence actually freer in some organisational respects, than some of its self-assuming ‘freer’ ‘alternatives’). Meanwhile, within its dog context, Pitt Street UC tends of course to be its own kind of animal with some of its own distinctive operating features! Who said ministry was a journey of continuing education?
I’m angry again today - and with good reason, especially having just read a particularly heart wrenching cry of anger from an Anglican priest who has expressed so well their own anger at ‘straightsplaining’ so-called allies and the appalling personal cost upon him (I know, I feel and empathise with that pain on every level). As he says, we can usually cope with much of the reactionary stuff but it is what I call (straight and narrow) ‘passive inclusion’, accompanied by the continual injunctions (by those with comfortable privilege) to continuing ‘patience’, ‘calm’, and ‘good (aka cheap) grace’ that really burdens and eats away at souls, lives and ministries.
One of the things Churches really struggle with is anger - not least Anglicans (born of ‘moderating’ control and English upper/middle class ‘restraint’) and (in my experience) often worse still, the Uniting Church (born of the bureaucracy and functionality that contains its own particular restricted range of Christian diversity). Yet too much of even the best of mainstream Church life has stoked, and continues to stoke, anger which needs to be properly acknowledged, heard and engaged with (not least by empowering, not silencing or sidelining, the huge gifts queer people are to every space, not least the spiritual). Sometimes I just wonder what Jesus it is that Churches read - but then personally I’ve never yet called those who hurt me ‘broods of vipers’ and the like, so perhaps I’m also failing on that score?!
I don’t expect Australian Anglican avoidance and maintenance of the straight, still largely boys, club to change quickly - nor the UCA’s complacency and irritating self-satisfaction about its often pleasant but limited ‘inclusivity’. They are both changing slowly - and this week’s announcement of a queerphobic breakaway ‘Anglican’ body is partly a sign of that change and an admission of that viperous tendency’s failure to win over others. Queer people of faith (especially local Anglicans this week) will continue to do it tough in many ways, but we won’t be crushed, because we are not only essentially gentle in spirit as well as vitally angry, but we are also extraordinarily fabulous and incredible gifts to our struggling world and to any Church that will not simply ‘include’ us but celebrate with us and learn from us. As the old Judaean said, ‘those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear’…
Meanwhile, some of us will keep on singing - and will also sing for those who are denied their voices, and for those who can sing no longer - for why wouldn’t we sing into being such wonderful gentle, angry, gifted, loving lives? 🏳️⚧️🌈
With huge ❤️ and 🙏 for all those doing it really tough right now. You are loved and more precious than you can ever know 😻
I continue to be flabbergasted (that’s the polite way of putting it) by the attempts of Churches to ‘apologise’ to LGBTIQ+ people whilst continuing to ignore our voices, maintaining shame, and hurting us afresh. The latest astonishing ‘apology’ is by the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Australia - actually ’deploring’ activity which it had itself just demonstrated.
NO - this kind of ‘apology’ is not acceptable and represents a mockery of the deep understanding of costly repentance and reconciliation in the Christian tradition.
Meanwhile, the Uniting Church - with more credibility but with significant holes in its LGBTIQ+ ‘inclusion’, including a current low level of trans awareness and engagement - has also been pursuing an apology process. This is a much better concept but one in which no transgender people have been included in the ‘apology’ group! (so there’s a first apology to make)
A few obvious starters therefore for such ventures:
* ‘Nothing about us without us’
* Cheap grace betrays the Gospel
* Reparations matter
Such a great joy to preside at this wedding today (with communion too), in such a beautiful special setting - and, in this case, finally beating the pandemic (restrictions, postponements, and one of the grooms getting COVID-19 just a couple of weeks ago!) plus the wettest start to a Sydney year on record.
#lovetriumphs #loveislove #reasonstolovetheunitingchurch
A beautiful time at Pitt Street this morning, thanks to the contemplative creativity of our wonderful team today - a lovely and much needed oasis of refreshment in these times during this season of Lent. We do love the very best of our Reformed heritage - but I guess we rarely do plain ‘plain’ at Pitt Street
Loving the creative hearts beginning to appear from folks at Pitt Street - here are a few examples (my current favourite being a fellow trans person’s ‘Love’ heart - as I know that comes from a deep journey ) - part of our #returningourhearts Lenten theme, as part of ‘repairing the breach’.
Recent weeks have been some of the hardest of my life in Christian ministry. Discussion of the Religious Discrimination Bill proposals fell into another debacle in the midst of concerted opposition and some brave Liberal backbenchers who stood out against the Bill's cruelty in the face of approaching election pressures. The political use and abuse of transgender people, especially school children, was particularly monstrous. Coming on top of several years of similar controversy and very slow positive changes in Churches, the pastoral burdens and spiritual impact was hard to bear. Thankfully, in the Uniting Church at least, opposition to the form of the Bill was expressed from the top clearly and positively. Particularly encouraging was the UCA President's Pastoral Letter which opens up possibilities for real progress, especially in addressing the deficit in transgender and non-binary care and celebration. In general however, there is such a long way to go and the 'gruesome week' demonstrated that amply. Media outlets, notably ABC's The Drum (see, for example, the clip on YouTube above) and the Guardian Australia (see article here) were kind enough to interview me and share some of my LGBTIQ+ faith perspectives, which I know are so vital to so many.
As we merge from the worst of the recent Omicron Covid-19 wave, it was a great joy and delight to host the ordination of Stuart Sutherland in Pitt Street Uniting Church by the International Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, with other very good friends and Christian companions.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.