Tag Archives: Embodied Ministry Conference

“Redeeming Gender”: Two Sexes? Or One? Or More?

Underlying much of the standard theology of sexuality and marriage, is the assumption that there exists a simply binary division of humanity into two clear sexes, male and female, created to marry and procreate.That view has been challenged in recent years by the recognition of intersex people, contradicting the assumption of just two sexes, and by gender theory, which notes that gender and sex are not interchangeable terms.

In his paper to the “Embodied Ministry” conference of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality, Professor Adrian Thatcher presented a less familiar challenge to this assumption of a sexual binary divide. Taking an historical view, he argued that this binary assumption is a relatively modern innovation, which in turn is currently being developed further into a much more nuanced understanding. Continue reading “Redeeming Gender”: Two Sexes? Or One? Or More?

Adrian Thatcher, on The Bible – AND the Word of God.

We are so used to speaking of the Bible as the Word of God, that we often forget that things are not quite that simple. In his contribution to the opening plenary session of the CSCS “Embodied Ministry” conference at Ripon College, July 2014,  Prof Adrian Thatcher reminded us that there are also other sources of revelation, taking as his title :

“how the Bible might be used to inform better integration of gender, sexuality and spirituality in formational settings”

Adrian Thatcher

Continue reading Adrian Thatcher, on The Bible – AND the Word of God.

OPENING  REFLECTION  &  PRAYER

 Hymn – Sing a new Church   (Tune: Ode to Joy or Nettleton)

 Words: Delores Dufner OSB

Summoned by the God who made us
rich in our diversity, gathered in the
name of Jesus,  richer still in unity.

Refrain: Let us bring the gifts that differ and, in splendid, varied ways,  sing a new church into being, one in faith and love and praise.

Radiant risen from the water,  robed in
holiness and light,  male and female in God’s image,
male and female, God’s delight.

Refrain

Trust the goodness of creation;  trust the Spirit
strong within.  Dare to dream the vision
promised,  sprung from seed of what has been.

Refrain

Bring the hopes of every nation;  bring the
art of every race.
Weave a song of peace and justice;  let it sound
through time and space.

Refrain

Draw together at one table,  all
the human family;
shape a circle ever wider
and a people ever free.

Refrain

Reading:

From the Letter to the Galatians (3: 26-29)

For all of you are God’s people through faith in the Messiah, Jesus. Indeed, all of you who were baptised into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah.

Because all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female. And if you belong to the Messiah, then you are descendants of Abraham and Sarah indeed, and heirs according to the promise.  (International Standard version 2012)

Prayer

God of all the vast varieties of humankind, help us to move beyond the exclusiveness of an either / or mentality to the inclusiveness of an all and every way of thinking. Move us beyond binary definitions to the mystery and complexity of infinite creativity and creation.

We remember those senselessly murdered because of their all-encompassing humanity, those de-humanised by religious institutions who would prefer invisibility, yet who are prophets of true identity, parents and families confused and fearful yet holding firm to love.

Open hearts that need to hear, souls that need to know, and minds that need to see that there are no limits to You nor Your creation.  In the name of the one who transcends divine and human labelling, who confounds our rigid definitions, and breaks down the walls that separate us, embraced in one Spirit of love. Amen

 

“Understanding and responding to families of LGBT people”

Report on a workshop facilitated by Bruce Kent,  FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)

Bruce Kent,
Bruce Kent, presenting his workshop

Bruce began his workshop by reminding the educators present that there are no “goodies and baddies” despite our cultural and natural inclination to see conflicts in this light.  From watching films about cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers to Star Wars and Harry Potter, media propaganda moulds a willing population into seeing in terms of “us and them”.  He said that, in his ignorance in the past, he once saw gay people as subversives who were trying to indoctrinate our children into becoming homosexuals and he felt antagonistic towards them.  However, now that he understood how foolish that was and that we are all made in God’s image, equally precious in our diversity, there is a danger now of seeing the religious fundamentalists as “the baddies”.  But we should have an attitude of compassion towards them (because they are bound by their exclusivist beliefs) and be willing to help them, whenever they are willing, to learn the truth that will set them free. Continue reading “Understanding and responding to families of LGBT people”

“Embodied Ministry” Conference a Great Success

Participants gathered at Ripon College, Oxfordshire, July 9th and 10th for the CSCS theological educators’ “Embodied Ministry” conference on sexuality, gender and formation. They came from  all corners of England (including at least York, Kent, Exeter, and Manchester), as well as one Australian stopping off en route to Sydney, two Ugandan asylum seekers, and a nun resident at Ripon College.  They came from a wide range of Christian denominations and backgrounds, including Church of the Nazarene, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Anglican and United Reform Church. Some were priests / pastors in active ministry, some were academics training aspirant clergy – and some were aspirant ministers in training, or preparing for training, themselves.

Ripon College

Opening the conference, our chair Martin Pendergast noted that this conference was not an end in itself, but the beginning of a process. By the end, it was obvious to all that this optimism was more than justified. It’s safe to say that this conference will probably repeated, possibly on a larger and more ambitious scale.

A press release by Pendergast yesterday, quoted the enthusiastic response of Revd. Dr. Martyn Percy, Principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon and Dean-elect of Christ Church, Oxford, as this major Conference concluded:

It’s rare to say that an event has been truly ground-breaking, but I’m proud that Ripon College Cuddesdon hosted the Embodied Ministry: Gender, Sexuality & Formation Conference, with such a rich, ecumenical breadth and seriously respectful discussions on issues which are often too neuralgic for all our Churches to consider, not least together.”

Continue reading “Embodied Ministry” Conference a Great Success

Intersex and Formation

Presentation by Dr Susannah Cornwall, for the CSCS theological educators’ conference “Embodied Ministry: Sexuality, Gender and Formation”.

(To view the full Power Point Presentation, open this link: Intersex and Formation )

Intersex,title slide

 

Dr Susannah Cornwall is Advanced Research Fellow in Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, and Director of EXCEPT (Exeter Centre for Ethics and Practical Theology). Her research focuses on constructive body theologies, and, in particular, the implications of intersex for theologies of sex, gender, sexuality, and theological anthropology. Her books include Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ: Intersex Conditions and Christian Theology (Equinox, 2010); Controversies in Queer Theology  (SCM, 2011); and Theology and Sexuality
y (SCM, 2013).

“We Are Vulnerable” – but “the Kingdom of Heaven Has Come Near”

In the communion service for the CSCS Theological Educators’ “Embodied Ministry” conference this week (July 2014), this was the homily delivered by Rev Carla Grosch – Miller:

Carla Grosch - Miller

Here are the signs that the kingdom of heaven has come near: unclean spirits are cast out; and every disease and sickness is cured. Jesus sent the twelve out to their own people, with authority to cast out, heal disease and sickness, and proclaim heaven’s nearness. Continue reading “We Are Vulnerable” – but “the Kingdom of Heaven Has Come Near”

Male AND Female God Created THEM

(Workshop to be presented by Revd Sharon Ferguson at the “Embodying Ministry” July 2014 conference of the CSCS Theological Educators Project).

What if you understand your gender as ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’? Where do you find yourself in scripture? How are you represented in liturgy and worship? How can ministers ensure a person of non-binary gender identity is affirmed and welcomed into the worshipping community? This workshop will briefly outline some of the alternative ways to understand gender and how those who transgress the binary models of male/female struggle to find a place within the Church. The group will be encouraged to consider what for them is comfortable /uncomfortable about gender identity and the reasons why. We will also consider the gendered language we use in liturgy and worship and the issues of inclusion/exclusion that these may raise.

Sharon Ferguson
Revd Sharon Ferguson is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in North London, Co-President of the European Forum for LGBT Faith Groups, and was also the CEO of LGCM until the end of May 2014. In October 2014 Sharon will embark on a PhD researching the biblical and theological bases for understanding non-binary gender and its implications for the Church. Sharon is passionate about the inclusive love of God for the diverse world that God created.

Intersex and Formation

(Paper to be presented by Dr Susannah Cornwall at the “Embodying Ministry” July 2014 conference of the CSCS Theological Educators Project).

Concerns about intersex and identity are actually broader questions about identity which face all of us, and the process of thinking and working through one’s own sense of one’s gender and sex is likely to better equip one to help others in this part of their journey. In this paper I note some of the questions and challenges intersex candidates may face during selection, training and ministerial formation, before going on to explore some of the theological questions surrounding formation and identity more broadly.

Susannah Cornwall, Intersex and FormationDr Susannah Cornwall is Advanced Research Fellow in Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter. Her research focuses on constructive body theologies, and, in particular, the implications of intersex for theologies of sex, gender, sexuality, and theological anthropology. Her books include Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ: Intersex Conditions and Christian Theology (Equinox, 2010); Controversies in Queer Theology (SCM, 2011); and Theology and Sexuality (SCM, 2013).

Guided Examen

(Workshop to be presented by Revd Dr Brendan Callaghan SJ at the “Embodying Ministry” July 2014 conference of the CSCS Theological Educators Project).

This workshop takes the form of a guided Ignatian “Examen” – helping people reflect on where and how they encounter God in the sexual dimension of their lives. This will include an introduction from Brendan, followed by 20 minutes’ or so guided silent reflection, followed by a chance to share and discuss (as people are comfortable to), followed by a little plenary discussion.

Brendan Callaghan, Guided ExamenRevd Dr Brendan Callaghan SJ is Novice Director for the North-Western Europe Provinces of the Jesuits. In addition to his 30 years of academic work in psychology of religion, based at Heythrop College in London and Campion Hall Oxford, he has run numerous workshop courses on sexuality, both for retreat guides and for committed celibates at various stages of their lives.

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