The Revd Tim Anderson, Rector of St Elizabeth’s, Dundonald in the Diocese of Down & Dromore and Chairman of GAFCON Ireland, spoke out in a letter after mounting publicity in the Church of Ireland about a LGBTI+ service held in the Diocese of Cork.
In his formal statement he wrote:
“On the 16th May, the Sunday after Ascension Day, a sermon was preached in a Church of Ireland Parish by a representative of the Ozanne Foundation at the Annual Service for International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. This service is “now an established part of the LBGTI+ Awareness Week calendar in Cork”. Since then there have been two posts on the Church of Ireland Facebook page giving wide publicity to this service and in particular to the sermon. It is necessary therefore, to respond.
“Firstly, at the heart of the Ozanne Foundation is a campaign to encourage all churches (and especially evangelical ones) to accept as members people who are gay and who wish to practise their sexuality. Although our western culture and society might commend and approve this it is not the Christian position that has been held throughout the ages. Christians have always been counter cultural. Jesus is Lord and following him will always mean being at odds with the political and cultural setting around us, often at great cost.
“Second, this campaign will deeply unsettle and disturb members of the Church of Ireland, and all believers, who have chosen, with the help of God, to embrace the battle against same sex temptation and sin. The Ozanne Foundation may not agree with the long-standing orthodox position on these matters. But surely it must respect those who are gay but have chosen not to practise their sexuality. Not to honour this strips people of their God given dignity and is an attack on their exercise of personal freedom and choice.
“Third, it needs to be said that the stance taken by the Foundation on matters relating to human sexuality is the perfect antithesis of the confessional and doctrinal nature not just of the Church of Ireland but of the global Anglican Communion. The historic formularies of the church (the 39 Articles, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal) are not just historic. Like the Word of God, they are living and active and remain the confessional yardstick for every Anglican generation. The Ozanne Foundation will want us to retain our creeds and confession but to inject these with a new culture friendly content. I suggest to you that this is nothing less than offering us a new, false gospel that cannot change the human heart.
“Fourth, this Sunday is Trinity Sunday. The Collect speaks of our confession of a true faith and asks for the Almighty and everlasting God to keep us steadfast in this faith. We remain steadfast by taking the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to all people regardless of sexual orientation or identity. We invite all to join us and to find a new identity in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are nothing more than forgiven, justified sinners who rejoice in the gift of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit changing us into the likeness of Christ himself. We long for others to join us on this journey and to share in the beauty of God’s new creation now and into eternity.”
When the Revd Anderson was asked if he had anything further he would like to add to his statement in the open letter, he wrote to the EC:
“We long for the Island of Ireland to be won for Christ. The mission field grows ever larger and the need for gospel proclamation becomes more urgent by the day. I understand the campaign of the Ozanne Foundation to celebrate the equality and diversity of all. But this message of social justice cannot save or change the human heart. We need to be clear, not least for the sake of many, many souls on this Island – this message is not the gospel”.