Woman blocked from being president of one of the UK’s biggest Christian organisations because she’s gay
A woman has been blocked from becoming a president of one of the UK’s biggest Christian organisations because she is in a same-sex marriage.
Churches Together in England (CTE) is “the national ecumenical instrument supporting and encouraging churches from a wide range of traditions to work together in unity.”
It currently has 49 member churches and its leadership is split into six presidents, each representing various denominations of Christianity. For this current term, the presidents include the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.
Hannah Brock Womack, a Quaker, was nominated by the fourth presidency group but to her “anger and frustration” she was told by CTE that she could not take her seat because she is in a same-sex marriage, something which some of the denominations involved might disagree with.
Brock Womack told the BBC: “I was shocked. I think the role of the six presidents is to demonstrate diversity in the church.
“I think there’s a sense of shock and surprise, and anger and frustration, but also a sense that we need to speak our truth.”
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She added that the other presidents “didn’t reach out to me personally, and that doesn’t surprise me in a way”.
Paul Parker, recording clerk for Quakers in Britain, told Christian Today: “This is a deeply sad decision… It is important to us that the Quaker voice is heard in discussions between Churches.
“As Quakers, we are called to answer that of God in everyone. We recognise the inherent worth of each person. That leads us to welcome all committed same-sex relationships as equally as committed opposite-sex relationships.
“We value equally all people, regardless of sexuality or other defining characteristics. These characteristics are not the right way to decide if someone is right to serve as our CTE President.”
CTE said in a statement: “Over recent months CTE has been engaging with the reality of living with diversity, acknowledging that although so much unites us as churches, we remain in disagreement over certain issues.
“Prompted by Hannah’s recent equal marriage, an ongoing process of discussion, listening and prayer has begun, recognising that churches hold different views regarding human sexuality, and that for many this is a very emotive and painful subject.”
It added that the fourth presidency would remain as an “empty chair” for the current term of office.
The statement continued: “This empty chair represents the lack of agreement within the churches in England regarding human sexuality, and the reality that this dimension of the churches’ pilgrimage together is not yet complete.”