Hurt and exclusion within Church of Ireland


Sir, – As chair of Changing Attitude Ireland, I would like express our deep disappointment at the announcement of the decision by the House of Bishops to confirm the appointment of David McClay as bishop of Down & Dromore. We are conscious of the number of expressions of concern to which his choice as bishop gave rise, due to Rev McClay’s involvement in the controversial Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon) and his hosting of the contentious Living Out course in his current parish last year. These concerns were forwarded to the members of the House of Bishops and formally to its secretary ahead of the meeting on November 20th at which the decision was made. That the bishops felt drawn to discount the evidence put before them, is a cause of great regret and grounds for genuine concern for the future harmony of the Church of Ireland.

We firmly contend that this was a missed opportunity for the hierarchy of the church, after the many years of listening processes, dialogue and expressions of regret for past hurts, to consider the message that this appointment would send to the LGBT+ members of the Church of Ireland. The feelings of profound disillusionment and abjuration that have been expressed, even within the short period of time since this announcement was made by the House of Bishops, is noteworthy.

It is clear that a real sense of hurt and exclusion prevails within the LGBT+ community of the Church of Ireland, a feeling compounded by the lack of any reference whatsoever by the House of Bishops, to the concerns expressed to them prior to their meeting.

This begs the question, what is required of a group of deeply committed members of a community for their voice to be heard by those who sit at the helm of that organisation? Where is their place in this institution and, do they in fact have a future in this church? There are a considerable number of bridges that will need to be rebuilt, on foot of this latest catastrophe! – Yours, etc,