REPORT FROM THE CHAIR FOR THE AGM OF CSCS , 6TH FEBRUARY 2010
This has been an extremely interesting year for CSCS, as I believe we have succeeded in achieving the two major tasks outlined by our last two Annual General Meetings.
Concern had been expressed by our members about an uncertain future for CSCS with its declining membership. This, in turn led to an examination of its continuing role as a forum to provide opportunities for sexuality to be discussed honestly and openly and to help others in the churches to provide similar opportunities.
Members had noted a number of recent examples known to them where Christian groups had found it difficult to build bridges between a priori theological principles and practical pastoral questions. It was felt that there might be a need for assistance with curricula or training materials, which CSCS and/or other organisations working in the field of faith and sexuality could help to fulfil. Members had also suggested that we should develop a network of organisations with similar aims to ours. With this in mind, I even made a tentative suggestion to our Committee that I end my tenure as Chair by facilitating a conference around the topics of ‘Faith, Sexuality and Justice’ and that we do so by reaching out to any other organisations with a common cause.
Clearly, today’s conference has achieved the latter aim in ways we hardly dared to imagine this time last year, and we are immensely grateful to Clare Herbert for taking up the challenge when she addressed our AGM this time last year. We hope to build on the links that we have made with other organisations which have helped to put on today’s conference and there are signs that there is an increasing willingness to collaborate in our
There has also been an inter-denominational input to our continuing dialogue with leading theological educators on how best to support those undergoing training for ministry and prepare them for some of the sexuality issues faced by members of our congregations. We have gathered together some key players in the field of theological education and ministerial formation who are undertaking some excellent work in preparing future church leaders to address some of the issues that are being aired in today’s conference on ‘Sexuality and Human Flourishing’. There is representation from the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, United Reformed Church and Methodists and we have met on three occasions so far for some insightful and extremely helpful sharing of experience, expertise and ideas. All are keen to continue with a view to publishing some outcomes in order to encourage further work in this field of ministry.
Apart from these meetings, your committee has met on four occasions and has welcomed the addition of three new members to the team, Michael Moran, Heather Barfoot and Colin Hart. We value their commitment to the aims of CSCS and the experience they bring to our work. Anthony Woollard is our longest serving committee member who, apart from acting as an efficient minutes secretary, has acted as editor of the CSCS Newsletter which is a most valuable link with our membership. Martin Pendergast continues to keep us informed of the many links he has with other organisations in this field of ministry and with the particular concerns of Christians in the Roman Catholic Church. Daphne and John Cook have served the committee well over the last few years, offering us hospitality for our meetings and, in Daphne’s case, acting as Treasurer. They will be standing down this year and we thank them for all that they have done for CSCS, especially in raising our awareness of gender dysphoria. As I mentioned in my Annual Report last year, I will also be standing down as your Chair, after eight years in this position. It is a good time to hand over the reins to another person as CSCS enters a very different future working in collaboration with other organisations and individuals to further our aims more effectively. Beyond the committee itself, I must thank Michael Egan for examining our accounts and Philip Gardner for his oversight of our CSCS website.
We continue to have difficulty in obtaining a clear response from the new publishers of the journal, Theology and Sexuality, which many of our members opt to receive as part of their membership benefits. The second edition of volume 15 that should have been distributed last year is about to be mailed to members and Equinox have assured me that volume 16 should be completed in 2010. They will continue to offer our members a discount that will keep prices as they were. The handover from Sage Publications has caused considerable disruption to the publication of the Journal and they have apologised to our members for the poor service we have received. In turn, I must thank those members who receive the Journal for their patience over this matter.
Last year we were faced with the possibility that CSCS had perhaps run its course and its ministry in this form was no longer viable. We thank God for the renewed vision we have received and look forward to the development of the projects we have in hand. It is good to see that more collaborative work is being done in the field of Christianity and sexuality as we will surely be enriched by working more closely with others and our voice will also be stronger for this.
Finally, I would like to thank all those who have offered advice, information and support to me over the years I have served as your Chair and especially to the Committee and all those who, over the years have supported CSCS and our work.
The Revd. Canon Jane Fraser (Chair of CSCS) 6th February 2010