AGM 2008: Chair’s Report

REPORT FROM THE CHAIR FOR THE AGM OF CSCS
9TH FEBRUARY 2008

Over the past year, CSCS has struggled to meet its aims of providing opportunities for sexuality to be discussed honestly and openly and to help others in the churches to provide similar opportunities. This has been limited largely to the medium of the CSCS Newsletter and the distribution of the Journal, Theology and Sexuality.
However, your committee has continued to meet quarterly to discuss policy, topics of relevance to our aims and the interests of our membership, items for the Newsletter and finance. In addition to these meetings there has been regular contact and discussion through the medium of email. We are grateful for the generous hospitality of John and Daphne Cook for these meetings and Daphne’s diligent oversight of membership fees and CSCS finances. Anthony Woollard continues to double as minutes secretary and editor of CSCS News. Martin Pendergast keeps us in touch with other networks facing similar concerns to ours and is a valuable link with the Roman Catholic Church.

The two-tier membership subscription introduced last year is working well but neither this development nor other initiatives have been successful in encouraging new members and numbers have therefore remained static. This, combined with the lack of active involvement of members other than those serving on the committee, has led to our opening up a debate on the possibility of re-thinking the future of CSCS as a stand-alone organisation. We launched, in the last Newsletter, the possibility of forming instead a collaborative group of small, radical, Christian organisations concerned to move forward the Church’s thinking on sexuality issues. We were therefore delighted that Christina Rees, a founder member of CSCS and a well-known campaigner in the field of women’s ministry, agreed to address our Annual Conference this year to give us a critical evaluation and personal perspective on CSCS.

We are also grateful for the support and encouragement from our Patrons, The Revd. David Gamble, Co-ordinating Secretary, Legal & Constitutional Practice in the Methodist Church, The Revd. Roberta Rominger, Moderator of the Thames North Synod of the United Reformed Church and The Rt Revd. John Gladwin, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford. Each has written to comment on our future plans and to express their regret that they were not to be able to attend today. They have sent us their good wishes for this event.

We continue to develop our links with other Christian organisations with agendas that overlap with our aims. Two of our committee members serve on the Council of the Modern Churchpeople’s Union, Anthony Woollard as an elected member and your Chair as a CSCS observer, together with other CSCS members, including Jean Mayland. We maintain links with Inclusive Church to our mutual benefit and their briefing papers and monthly newsletter keep us informed of many issues relating to our aims. Martin Pendergast was actively involved in the LGCM conference on homophobia last year and is also a valuable link with developments in the Catholic Church. Your Chair is active on the General Synod of The Church of England where, as you know, there is a continuing, lively (and sometimes acrimonious) debate on the role of gay clergy in the priesthood and of women in the episcopate. She is also active in raising concern within church congregations on the problem of teenage pregnancy and sexuality issues relating to people with disabilities.

Anthony Woollard continues to play an active role in the production of the CSCS Newsletter, both as commissioning editor and as a stimulating contributor. We are grateful for his oversight of current issues of concern to the membership and his ability to stimulate lively debate among the membership. We have been given an insight into a perspective on sexual surrogate partner therapy by one of our members, David Brown, who has both challenged and stimulated our thinking on the needs of those facing sexual problems and dysfunctions. Another member, Henry Mayor, has updated us on the difficulties facing gay and lesbian Christians in Kenya and what he has achieved in opening up dialogue with members of the Anglican Church in that country. We are also aware of similar work being undertaken by Colin Coward through Changing Attitude – with whom we maintain active links.

Our thanks are due to Daphne Cook, in her capacity as our Treasurer, for drawing up
the end of year accounts for us and for keeping us within our budget. Thanks are also
due to Michael Egan for auditing the accounts.

We are also grateful to Philip Gardner for his continued work on updating the CSCS website despite other pressures on his time and expertise.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the membership who contribute to the aims of
CSCS by encouraging education and informed debate on the issues around
Christianity and sexuality within your church communities and congregation.

The Revd. Canon Jane Fraser

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