Anglican spat over gay priest

Anglican spat over gay priest

An interstate spat has erupted between Anglicans, with the Sydney-based evangelical Anglican Church League (ACL) attacking the Diocese of Gippsland in Victoria.

At issue is the appointment of an openly gay man in a relationship to lead one of the diocese’s parishes.

The ACL called on Gippsland Bishop John McIntyre on February 12 to rescind the appointment of the Reverend David Head as Hayfield parish priest, calling the decision “dismaying”.

The ACL claimed the appointment conflicted with a resolution made at the Anglican Communion’s 1998 Lambeth Conference and the views of the General Synod of the Australian church.

“Appointments like this put unwanted strain and tension upon relationships between the various dioceses of the Anglican Church of Australia. It also contributes to the fragmentation of the Anglican Communion,” the ACL statement read.

However, McIntyre told the Star Observer that Head’s appointment was not in breach of the Lambeth ruling or the General Synod, neither of which condone the ordination of gay clergy, because he hadn’t ordained Head.

“I have not ordained anyone ‘involved in same gender unions’ to quote the [Lambeth] motion,” McIntyre told the Star Observer. “I have appointed a priest in good standing from the Diocese of Melbourne to a position in the Diocese of Gippsland.

“He was ordained over 30 years ago, has exercised good and faithful ministry in that diocese up until January this year, and he fulfils all the current criteria to be determined canonically fit to be licensed in an Anglican diocese anywhere in the world.

“The same can be said in relation to the suggestion I have ignored the advice of the resolution of General Synod 2004 which states ‘this general Synod does not condone the ordination of people in open committed same sex relationships’. I have not done that.”

McIntyre said his diocese never asked about the sexuality of clergy before ordaining or appointing them.

“Accordingly, I did not ask that question of David before appointing him. He was appointed by me on the request of the people of the parish in which he now serves because they believed his ministry experience and gifts made him the right priest for the job, and they believed him to be called by God to that ministry, as do I.”

McIntyre said he took Lambeth Resolution 1.10 very seriously as it also calls on Anglicans to condemn homophobia, minister sensitively to homosexual people, and assure that homosexual people know they are loved by God.

Sydney Archbishop Peter Jensen is the vice-president of the ACL and leads the global faction within the Anglican Communion which has threatened to split the church over the issue of homosexuality.

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30 responses to “Anglican spat over gay priest”

  1. Congrads to the newly appointed Rev.

    Practise what you preach people… Do onto others, Do not Judge you will be judged at the Gold Gates to Heaven.

    People are born gay, and if god made us all he made thoes people gay!

    As a Catholic I find it disturbing that other Cathlics see if to judge and throw stones.

    All the best for the New Rev, and I think it is about time that the Church Embrases all types of people.

  2. @David – I’m glad if my comments helped. I think the people of Gippsland are good, kind and accepting, in the main. Those who are not are in the minority.

  3. Just by the way, Felicity – you do not have to be gay to “be a part of the Changing Attitudes campaign”, as you put it. Are your views (and knowledge) so limited that you assume simply because someone belongs to or supports an organisation like CAA that they therefore gay? Do you not imagine a situation whereby heterosexual Christians might wish to stand beside their brothers and sisters in love and support against the discrimination they so regularly receive including, to my distress and shame, from within the Church?

  4. @Colin As a young gay man who is a member of the congregation of St Mary’s, in Morwell, it’s wonderful to read what you have to say.

    I have been struck, since this “came out” (pardon the pun), at how the dominant attitude of the people in my parish has been one of love, acceptance and support for Rev. Head and his partner.

    Indeed, the priests at my parish, led by our Rector, Archdeacon Heather, have been vocal in their support of Rev. Head and Bishop McIntyre, while remaining sensitive to the feelings of any in the congregation who may disagree with their views, as well as to those of us who may feel strongly about the issue.

    I feel I should point out, by the way, that according to people involved withwhom I have spoken, Rev. Head informed the parish of his relationship status within minutes of meeting them, and was happy to turn the appointment down if it were to be a problem.

    The predominant attitude from those within Gippsland seems to have been one of love and acceptance. I hope that it continues.

  5. I don’t know any of the people involved at Gippsland, nor in the string of comments above. So what I say is not aimed at anyone in particular, nor should it be taken personally.

    Those who use the Bible to justify opposition to homosexuality in the church often say, “the Bible clearly says…”. However, what should be stated is, “My opinion of what he Bible says is…”.

    We have multiple traditions in the Christian church. The evangelicals tend to be the loudest voice and will often take selected parts of the Bible literally. The six or so passages on same sex activities are and example.

    But thorough scholarship and clear thinking about the historical context and how we best interpret the Bible for our time, calls for a much more open minded approach.

    I can quite comfortably say in front of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters that he Bible condemns a number of same sex practices. And they are the sort of thing that should still be condemned. Violent, abusive, exploitative and ritual sexual practices (gay or straight) have no place in our time. But we are talking about a different thing in this article. A same sex sexual orientation is not a sin – it’s a state of being. And loving relationships between the same gender are not mentioned at all. In fact there have been times in the history of the church when these relationships have been celebrated (See Boswell).

    Instead of claiming the sky is falling, I think we (the church) would be in a better position to call for healthy, committed relationships in all areas of our society, and do our best to keep them strong.

    If certain churches or denominations do not want gay people in positions of leadership and refuse to acknowledge same sex couples, then so be it. But DO NOT claim that is the will of God as set out in scripture. That is twisting the Bible to say things it was never meant to say. And Jesus had some fairly stern words for people that did that in his time…

    Rev Matt Glover

  6. You will never win an argument with a fundamentalist as they love picking and choosing the chapter and verse that backs up their hatred.
    These is no modern, living person who is not condemned in the bible at some point for simply living in the present times.
    However, those parts of the bible are conveniently not considered as valid or simply misinterpreted.
    If you wrestle with a pig you are bound to get muddy.

  7. @ colin, I can completely assure you that at no point was I even thinking let alone implying that the relationship with Head was with a minor. I made the comment because someone who saw the photo online wondered if the people at Hayfield perhaps never knew that the relationship was a homesexual one and that maybe Mark was his son. With regards to women teaching men and so on I do actually feel uncomfortable with the ordination of women however I do not believe that women in are in anyway inferior to men. When I read the above article the comments that Bishop McIntyre was reported as saying indicated (to me anyway) that he did not know what David Head’s sexuality was. I did find this odd given that a quick google search on the man showed that he was part of the Changing Attitudes campaign and also there was a photo of him and his partner in an Anglican Newsletter. I also noticed that this is a gay online newspaper and never realised this until I had made my last comment. I respect your views Colin however I continue to feel uncomfortable with homosexuality being what I see as promoted in the church which is why Anglicanism and the Uniting Church are not my choice of denominations.

  8. It would be fun to work with you, Felicity! It is comforting to know that there are anti-discrimination laws in all States and Territories.

  9. Ms Houston said a large amount of Anglicans did not like this appointment in Gippsland, but in a later rant says she does not know any of the Anglicans in Gippsland? It is a bit like putting words in the mouth of Jesus, who never said a thing against us. Perhaps she can look up Intersex and stop her extremist hate rants.

  10. Felicity – I suggest you read what I wrote, what was in this article, and indeed, what others have commented more closely before you fire off missives. This may also be helpful for you when reading the Bible. I did not label ‘all Christians’ – I critiqued your position, which I found (and still find) wanting on points of fact, logic and Christian charity. Can you explain why you found it necessary to write the following: “… his appointment at Heyfield Parish was reported in the Anglican Newspaper with a photo of him and his ‘partner’ [sic] Mark (who looks young enough to be his son).“ What is that comment supposed to mean or imply? The clear reading of it is, to any reasonable person, I would suggest, that you are implying there is something improper about the age gap that you perceive. If there was no reason for you to include it, I suggest that you withdraw the comment. I’m happy with mine – it was quite carefully worded. You are playing the man, and not the ball. Oh – and you might like to read some more commentaries on ‘you shall not judge’. Romans 2:1 and James 2:13 should be instructive, too. I’m pretty happy with my exegetical and hermeneutical skills. I definitely agree that there are some passages in the Bible that appear to condemn homosexuality – and they’re probably intended to. What I’d like to suggest to you is that they are firmly located in a time and place that has no relevance to ours. The Church has varied its understanding of the teaching of scripture over time – slavery, divorce, the ministry of women, for example. But there are many others. In for a penny, in for a pound, Felicity. If you’re so keen on the verses on homosexuality, it is incumbent on you to cover your head in church, to not speak in church (and probably not to teach men – including in this forum), and the list could go on. If you find those teachings problematic (I certainly do, and would say that Paul’s attitude to women was cruel and archaic, with no place in our world), then you need to come to some understanding about where you draw the line, and be comfortable with how you defend that in your mind.

  11. Felicity, above, reveals the true fundamentalist spirit. They glory in their ignorance: “intersexual (whatever that is)”. You could google it Felicity. But hey, prejudice feels good so don’t let information/understanding get in the way. I’m sure Felicity would be one of the first to warn against any “feel-good” attitude to life. She just doesn’t recognise her own. And good on Bishop McIntrye. Seems like there might still be some Christians around after all.

  12. In response to the above attacks on both my views and character: Firstly at no point whatsoever have I ever said, written or heard that David Head is a pedophile and I suggest that you remove your comment Colin Thornby. Secondly I apologise for speaking on behalf of Gippsland Anglicans because I am not actually a member of the Anglican church there. Boy you people talk about extremism however the moment someone like myself puts across an opposing opinion we are immediately accused of ‘judging’ and violence against ‘gays’. I could go on to tell you the numerous ‘gay’ people that I am related to and work with however this was never my point. So I will try and spell it out more clearly. Yes it is not our place to judge homosexuals or anyone else, however the ‘thou shall not judge’ verse is possibly the most misquoted and misused one in the Bible and has allowed a lot of unbiblical views and behaviours to penetrate the church. David Head I have no doubt will be a decent person with a strong commitment to his faith and the anglican church however there are verses in scripture that clearly see homosexuality as sinful. Yes we all want to show the love of Jesus, but lets not forget the whole reason that Jesus came to earth, it was as an atonement for our sins because sin separates us from God. By all means use the teachings of Jesus for your moral living and values however please remember that we know about these teachings by reading the Bible and this same Bible also contains the Pauline Epistles whose teachings are being completely ignored. Please try and not be so extremist in your views people and dismiss and label all other Christians who oppose your own views.

  13. “However, McIntyre told the Star Observer that Head’s appointment was not in breach of the Lambeth ruling or the General Synod, neither of which condone the ordination of gay clergy, because he hadn’t ordained Head.
    “I have not ordained anyone ‘involved in same gender unions’ to quote the [Lambeth] motion,” McIntyre told the Star Observer. “I have appointed a priest in good standing from the Diocese of Melbourne to a position in the Diocese of Gippsland.”

    That’s slightly disingenuous of McIntyre. To somehow suggest that since he himself did not ordain Head everything is all in accordance with the Lambeth resolution is stretching the limits of credibility.

    I think McIntyre should take every opportunity to stand up to these bullies but not by hiding behind sneaky semantics. If he’s going to go against the received teaching of the church then he should simply come out and say so. Otherwise he just looks dishonest.

  14. I’m a gay man living in the Diocese of Gippsland. I serve in ministry in a few different ways, including sitting on Bishop-in-Council, which is the most senior of the committees in the Diocese. Having said all that, I do not in any way speak for the Diocese in any matters. Felicity is right about one thing. There is a level of disagreement within the Diocese about Bishop John’s actions. In the main this has been about the way in which the news about the appointment was communicated, and how the ‘news’ that Fr David is gay was revealed (by the publication of a picture in the Diocesan newspaper). I don’t know how large the group which disagrees actually is. One large parish has made a public statement about it, and I know some other clergy have expressed concerns. I expect the issue will be raised at Diocesan Synod in May 2012. Most people have done it respectfully and out of a sincerely held belief. Felicity’s comments are not respectful, and appear to wish to gather what she sees as the forces of right to her side. I believe that Bishop John is concerned with social matters because he sees that the need to care for the poor, broken, the despised and downtrodden is at the centre of Jesus’ teaching. Bishop John is absolutely right when he states he has not contravened either the spirit or the law of the resolutions of General Synod and Lambeth Conference. Right up until the end of Fr David’s appointment he was a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Melbourne – and would have continued to be if he had not come to Gippsland. There are other gay priests in the Diocese of Melbourne (and in other dioceses in Australia). Would Felicity have the Archbishop of Melbourne terminate their appointments? Felicity’s assertion that Bishop John is well paid is disingenuous – he receives a stipend for full time ministry, the size of which is publicly known, and is very much less than $100,000pa even when things like housing, car, and travel are included. Felicity’s assertion that the people of Heyfield didn’t know Fr David was gay is also disingenuous. He was appointed by the Parish Incumbency Committee, which includes lay people from the Parish. Felicity’s comment about her view of the relative ages of Fr David and his partner Mark is offensive, and almost scandalous, appearing to wish to suggest paedophilia. I am confident she would make no such comment about a heterosexual clergy person. I would like to believe that Felicity’s concerns are about her view of Biblical teaching, but the rather muck-raking and smearing way in which she goes about expressing them is a long way from being consistent with the Christian ethic of being loving and caring, even when disagreeing. It is, however, very consistent with the unfortunate ways that American Christianity plays the game, which has informed the behaviour of the self-appointed Australian Christian Lobby.

  15. Apropos “Felicity Houston”

    An extract from an article by the most excellent Hugh MacKay: “…fundamentalism as a religious movement. It has always been about more than religious doctrine and biblical interpretation; it is equally accurate to describe it as an ultra-conservative social protest movement.
    It has never been exclusively about religion. Its agenda is packed with prescriptions about the moral (especially sexual) codes we should adopt, and how we should resist the blandishments of liberalism. Fundamentalists want to replace faith with acquiescence and obedience. Of course, they will say their moral, social and even political judgments spring from their faith, but that brings us back to the central conundrum: faith and judgmentalism are the most incompatible of bedfellows.
    You can recognise the religious fundamentalist by a kind of spiritual swagger. Whereas humility is the mark of the true religious believer (“I believe this, precisely because I can’t know it”) the fundamentalist is corrupted by an assumption of superiority: I know best; my beliefs are correct; if your beliefs are different from mine, then you are wrong.”

    *sigh* fundos are the blind leading the blind.

    Read more:

  16. Heyfield is a great small town, I have found the people very accepting and their are even gay businesses etc. This news has been welcomed by many people in the community.

    In Gippsland, the Uniting Church also runs young same-sex attracted youth groups. Anglican Bishop John McIntyre also stood up for us when the State government stripped our protections at work making discrimination legal. He said it goes against the fundamental teachings of Jesus.

    • Romans. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

  17. If people want to promote gay, lesbian, transexual transgender, intersexual (whatever that is) then they can however a large amount of Anglicans in Gippsland do not agree with this and take a Biblical stance on homosexuality. Bishop McIntyre is paid (quite a lot) to represent and oversee these people and I reckon he should take a change in career. You cannot be in an influential position in an organisation that claims to hold the Bible as the true word of God then work towards a secular position on how it should be interpreted. I am happy for ‘gays’ to attend church meetings, God loves them and we are all sinners however if we love and care about these people we will not condone a lifestyle that damages their relationship with God. To those of you who are atheists I would say why are you commenting on this article or these issues? The comments made by Bishop McIntyre do not add up. As well as David Head’s affiliation with Changing Attitudes his appointment at Heyfield Parish was reported in the Anglican Newspaper with a photo of him and his ‘partner’ Mark (who looks young enough to be his son). So clearly McIntyre did know of his sexual orientation and I think that he appointed him in order to promote his own ‘equality’ views.

    Ed: Felicity, we’re impressed with how you espouse the Bible’s teachings, then go on to pass judgement. Isn’t that’s God’s place?

  18. Bishop John McIntyre, has travelled Australia with his wife giving talks on equality.

    Now there are some Churches who do not accept women having an important role within the Church, but the majority do. The majority of Christians as the polls show support Marriage Equality, and the right of people to be treated equally in church and out of church. Jenson is entitled to his view, but it simply not a view shared with the majority of Christians.

    Bishop John McIntyre is simply following in the steps of a great arch Bishop Desmond Tutu.

    “To penalise someone because of their sexual orientation is like what used to happen to us; to be penalised for something which we could do nothing [about] — our ethnicity, our race. I would find it quite unacceptable to condemn, persecute a minority that has already been persecuted.” Nobel Peace Prize winner and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

    • • Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

  19. While we’re on the subject of Christianity, it’s said that Jesus was crucified nude. Why, then, don’t crosses depict that?

  20. Oh well, you’d be mistaken to think Archbishop J would rather commend the priest for the good witness of a committed life relationship; that perhaps would be too close to having a condemned LGBT person/priest show fruits of the Holy Spirit in daily living. We just cannot have that sort of thing happening, right out in public, now can we? Jensen and his brother/sister travelers are fairly happy so long as they can represent gay folks as outlandish, eccentric, marginal, dirty, damaged, dangerous … anything but a neighbor whom we love as we love ourselves. … and therefore, whose common sense decency we acknowledge as we hope our own common sense decencies will be known to others in our communities. Alas. Lord have mercy.

  21. No,it is actually Christians like those in the ALC who are continually shown prejudice and criticism and their lives can be a struggle. Anglicans claim to hold the Bible as the true word of God and use it in teaching and living. Nowhere in scripture does it condone homosexuality. Most churches even ‘extreme’ evangelical ones welcome ‘gays’ into their congregation, telling such people that their lifestyle is acceptable and allowing them to have leadership positions in the church may be a good thing if wanting to please those outside the church however as Christians we should be showing God’s love and correction. Bishop McIntyre may say that he did not know Head’s sexual orientation when he appointed him however this is surprising because Head is actively involved with Changing Attitudes that promotes and ‘supports’ gay, lesbian, transexual, intersexual persons. Also Head was vicar at a church in Melbourne prior to his appointment at Heyfield so the people in this country parish certainly did not choose him. This appointment is starting to cause division within the Anglican community in Gippsland.

  22. Does Jensen need help in not only dealing with homophobia, but also a repressed homosexuality? Is it not fair to say that the most repressed are the most homophobic? Just a thought.

  23. I declared that gay marriage was “sacred” and the Sydney Anglican Diocese described me as a “false prophet”.

    It is the church which is false and, using its own parable in a prophetic irony, may best be summed up as “the house that was built upon sand”.

  24. The ACL are religious extremists! Who do you think they are with their hatred and judgement of others?
    Congratulations to Reverend Head and to Bishop McIntyre for appointing him!