..the Select Committee viewed its role in the broadest of terms, as having a remit to discuss a range of issues concerning human sexuality, and lead the Church in being a learning and listening body intent on increasing its understanding of Scripture and sharing the experience of others. Such breadth of vision is still maintained by the Select Committee.
However, within this broad attempt to encompass the sweep of issues that could naturally fall under such an umbrella, including human trafficking for example, the Committee recognised that the ”˜presenting issue’ of same”“sex attraction needed considerable time and effort at the outset. This is for two reasons. Firstly that the Select Committee would not have been formed but for this issue, and secondly and naturally flowing from that, it, arguably, beyond all others, is what is divisive for the Church and causing most hurt and uncertainty amongst its members.
There is another group of people to whom we owe a special degree of gratitude, which cannot be adequately repaid, even by the thankful words of those who heard them, namely, those whose experience of being same”“sex attracted and being part of the Church of Ireland was generously and, in many cases, sacrificially opened to us. Their testimony was and is crucial to the production and use of this Guide.
What has been produced in the end is a booklet containing three study sessions. It is my hope, and that of all members of the Select Committee, that should be widely used. They are entitled: ”˜The God who Gives’, ”˜The God who Guides’ and ”˜The God of Grace’. Each session contains different elements and can be used in whole or part. They are consistently biblically based, reflective, engaging and, ultimately, personally challenging. They are both gently leading us to explore and listen, and at the same time to contemplate how we respond to who we are, to one another and to God. The Select Committee commends them for use throughout the Church of Ireland in whatever way seems best for the parish or diocese, youth or other group, individual or shared one”“to”“one conversation in which they are introduced.
Twelve diocesan representatives have been chosen by their bishops to facilitate their use throughout the Church during the course of the next twelve months. It is to be hoped that at the end of that period, in other words at this time next year, the Select Committee will receive feedback in order to be able to provide General Synod in 2017 with the fruits of the task with for which the Committee was formed and with which it has been entrusted.
Read it all and there is a press release here. The Guide to the Conversation and Executive Summary may be found here