Words: Alastair James; pictures: Facebook / Andrew Rawding
A Church of Ireland minister has resigned from the organisation calling it "structurally, culturally and socially homophobic".
The Reverend Andrew Rawding, 51, who is the rector of Brackaville, Donaghendry, and Ballyclog in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, stepped down from his post in the three parishes on Sunday (4 July).
He's has criticised the church for a lack of action and listening on LGBTQ issues.
“Using the language of condemnation and rejection”
Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland Mr. Rawding said many of his parishoners has “expressed sadness” once he announced he was leaving, with some reduced to tears.
On the Church, he said: "There are some kind and compassionate individuals but corporately, at best there is indifference, at worst there is hypocrisy," and described the institution as "structurally, culturally and socially homophobic".
He also said Church figures had been “weaponising Bible verses” against LGBTQ equality and “using the language of condemnation and rejection".
In 2020, Rev. Rawding stood against a letter written by six other ministers in the Mid-Ulster region he once served opposing a Pride parade saying, “We all want to be loving, but with humility we need to accept that even with our best intentions, LGBTQ people have felt hated by the language of sin, and some are filled with such self hatred and rejection that they have taken their lives.”
The Reverend has also helped to organise and taken part in Pride parades in the area.
He’s criticised the Church for conducting a “tick-box exercise” by establishing a committee in 2016 to see how LGBTQ Christians felt about being in the Church. The results showed it depended on the rector’s stance on LGBTQ issues. Rev. Rawding said no-one in the Church had spoken with him about making changes.
He’s told the BBC that he now plans to start a degree in social work.
The Church of Ireland told Attitude it had no comment.
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