‘Bishop I want you to know that we have become Christians through our Alpha Group. I also want you to know that our son is gay and we have learnt more about the true meaning of love from his experience.’ A phone call out of the blue over 10 years ago. It is time for the church to catch up with the experience of its own members.
These essays are long overdue. They are rooted in a deep respect for difference and diversity, in mutual and transparent pastoral love, in a fresh and vibrant wrestling with the Scriptures and Christian tradition and they rescue the church from the real threat that it will be stranded in a culture that belongs to the past. The authors have listened and learnt and are still travelling on. So must we!
Rt Revd John Gladwin, Former Bishop of Chelmsford
As someone who is passionate about the importance of listening to different perspectives
in places of intense disagreement, I welcome these honest contributions to the debate about same sex relationships — regardless of whether they disturb or comfort us. This book invites us to engage prayerfully with the personal stories of fellow followers of Christ; to listen deeply with hearts of love not fear; and to know that God is unchanged whatever our conclusions.
Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester
Much has and, no doubt, will continue to be stated in regards to evangelical understanding of sexuality. Sadly, especially for those whose lives are directly affected by the ever present commentary, the voices are often raised and adamant. A set stance appears to be the ‘positioning’ claimed as the evangelical understanding of all that is around us at present.
That’s why I welcome Journeys in Grace and Truth, which reveals a growing evangelical voice that needs to be heard and respected. Conversation by its very nature is (at least) two-way, and so I pray that as evangelicals we will hear well, and position less, as we seek together to share the hope-filled story of Jesus in this generation.
Ruth Gilson, CEO Girls’ Brigade Ministries
I warmly welcome this book. These contributions seek to help Christians with different points of view in a very difficult debate. The authors seek to explain how sisters and brothers in the church can hold an affirming biblical evangelical view which embraces all LGBTI Christians. I know how difficult, divisive and painful these issues can be. We should all welcome thoughtful contributions like this one as heralds of a new time of respectful dialogue and deeper understanding.
Rt Hon Sir Simon Hughes, former MP, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader and Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties.
I had the extraordinary privilege of participating as one of the Diocese’s delegates in the ‘Shared Conversations’. The most transformative experience for me was the session when we told our stories, of how we each had reached the point of view we were holding in relation to sexuality. The journeys were varied, multi-dimensional, contextual, and deeply faithful. Listening to such personal perspectives where individual faithfulness has lead us to such different places, it left me wondering by what route we might be able to find ourselves in the same place, or at least in places closer by. It also left me realising that was in God’s hands not ours. It is for us to listen to each other in faith. Now this powerful collection of stories has strengthened that sense for me: listen in faith, and this is in God’s hands.
Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
Until very recently attitudes towards same sex relationships, not least among Christians, were seen by those like myself who study church statistics, to be a “generational” issue. These were not matters on which adults tended to change their minds. Societal change only took place to the extent that those reaching adulthood differed from the generation they were replacing. Since the middle of the last decade that has all changed. This book collects together a range of examples of such a reassessment of views. In doing so it provides a very timely contribution to the ‘Shared Conversations’ taking place within the Church of England. It is not the last or only word on the subject, but it is an essential one.
Rt Revd David Walker, Bishop of Manchester
Serious issues need serious debate, but as part of that debate it’s important to hear of the journeys that people are making. Doubtless these journeys criss-cross the well-worn territory in many different directions but my hope is that when we meet on those journeys we will recognise fellow disciples of integrity and faithfulness. Here in this resource are some of those disciples telling their stories and asking only for an honest hearing. May we live in peace and proclaim Jesus Christ crucified and risen.
Rt Revd John Pritchard, Former Bishop of Oxford