In support of the ‘Safe Church’ motion of apology, Bishop Kate Prowd said this:
I speak to you today as a bishop, a clinical psychologist, a mother, a sibling, and a friend.
I welcome the spirit of the Sydney apology motion, because it – and I quote “deplores…and condemns any behaviour that is disrespectful, hurtful, intentionally insensitive, bullying or abusive, and recognises and rejoices in the image of God as reflected in every human being. …regardless of sexual identity….´
As a bishop I’m called to “guard” the Church’s unity (as the ordinal reminds us), and I am committed as a pastor to be faithful in living and loving with, and in difference.
As a clinical psychologist, my work bears out the research that shows that sexual minority people often feel dehumanised and devalued, and this leads to a decline in their psychosocial health and well-being.
And though research typically is often about statistics, as medical researcher Selikoff (who worked with people affected by asbestos) said, “Statistics are people with the tears wiped away ”. This is about people, LGBTQIA+ people, people too often with tears because of what we, members of the Church, have done.
Let me tell you about three such people I know:.
My daughter …who grew up in the Church and identifies as LGBTQIA+, exhorted me: “Please speak up about this ”. My hope for her is that she can walk into any Church and “ rejoicing and recognising that she is made in the image of God…regardless of her sexual identity”… & that she can flourish in relationships that bring her fulfilment and love and joy.
My sibling….who is same-sex attracted and …who also wants me to share their journey. I kept their sexuality a secret for years — for fear I would leave them vulnerable and exposed and at risk… . So I am proud – to take this risk with you today.
And my many LGBTQIA+ friends…
With whom I’ve experienced friendship and support – as travellers and pilgrims ion the faith journey; I walk with them and care for them, and they care for me and walk with me .
So, to the motion.
The debates here today and yesterday have already shown that an apology alone will not be sufficient. The words we use and the behaviour’s we demonstrate altogether matter. And so I wonder about the words: “ Please leave us”: They, are words that have cut deep into hearts and minds.– Are the words “Please leave us” – in accord with – and I quote the motion – “ fostering churches and fellowships where compassion and grace abound and where the love of God is expressed to all…”?
Yet despite the inadequacy of words alone, I support the motion, because we know for example– and research backs this– that strong ‘public messages of support… ’ ‘protects the mental health of same-sex attracted people’.
Words of affirmation and welcome and apology, when followed by action, say to my daughter, my sibling, my friends, and everyone who identifies as LGBTQI+ , that there is still hope , and that, the Anglican church will be welcoming, safe and respectful of them, that they may be in our churches affirmed as one made in the image of God.
I support the motion.
Safe Churches (Diocese of Sydney) Bishop Peter Lin moving, The Rev’d Kate Beer seconding
1. Deplores and condemns any behaviour that is disrespectful, hurtful, intentionally insensitive, bullying or abusive, and recognises and rejoices in the image of God as reflected in every human being, regardless of race, social circumstances, creed or sexual identity, and apologises to and seeks forgiveness from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) persons whom we have treated in this way.
2. Commits itself to fostering churches and fellowships where compassion and grace abound and where the love of God is expressed to all, so that our churches and ministries are welcoming, safe and respectful of all people