3 December 2019 – Mark Rowland
Inclusion and equal marriage
A history of inclusion in the church, and a vision for the future
In this talk, Mark explores what the future holds for questions of inclusion in the Christian churches in Britain. It is 25 years this year since the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Church of England; how far have we come in other areas of inclusion, and how much more work is there to do? Many denominations struggle with their approach to questions of LGBT+ inclusion. Racial discrimination and other prejudice is still a serious problem in many parts of the church. How should Christians respond? Does the Church have anything to say to wider society in this area? And what might we hope for and work for in the next 25 years?
Mark won't have all the answers(!) but will certainly pose some challenging questions.
Mark is active in work for LGBT+ inclusion, including as a Stonewall Faith Role Model. Mark is a founder member of the Dignity and Worth group which supported the proposal brought to the 2019 Methodist Conference to allow same-sex marriage in church. Mark is also a trustee of OneBodyOneFaith, an ecumenical national group working for LGBTI+ people to be fully affirmed and involved in the life and mission of the church.
Originally from Aberystwyth in mid Wales, Mark gained his MEng in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge and spent a short time in patent work before training for ministry, during which he completed an MA in Theology and Religious Studies. Alongside his work at the University of Warwick, Mark is also a PhD student at the University of Leeds, exploring 'A Queer theology of holiness'.
The Methodist Church is the Britain's fourth largest Christian denomination with about 180,000 members. Worldwide there are over 60 million committed members of the Methodist Church and a further 20 million adherents.‡ Women's ordination in the Methodist Church dates back to 1974, and the history of women preachers in the Methodist Church dates back to the 1760s and the time of John Wesley.‡
- Resources page offered by the Dignity & Worth group with the intention of helping individuals and Churches engage in conversations about LGBT+ relationships and the life of the church
- Dignity & Worth report making the case for extending marriage in church to same-sex couples
- Premier Radio summary of the 3 July 2019 Methodist Conference vote on same-sex marriage in church
Resources mentioned by Mark during his talk
- whosoever.org with a study of the six so-called "clobber passages" often cited as proof-texts when discussing issues of homoxexuality and Christianity. Also an examination of various other relevant verses.
- John Wesley's sermon on A Catholic Spirit
- Bernadette Farrell's take on Psalm 139, O God, You Search Me, with the line quoted by Mark: "For the wonder of who I am, I praise you"
- God and the Gay Christian, book by Matthew Vines, 2015
- Queer Theologies, the Basics, book by Chris Greenough, 2019
- Undivided: Coming Out, Becoming Whole, and Living Free From Shame, book by Vicky Beeching, 2018. See also the book reviews section of the Engaging Issues site.
(If thinking of buying a book, before resorting to boosting Amazon's scantily-taxed profits, try these: Church Stretton library, Burway Books in Church Stretton who can order any current book for you, or even drop a note to the Engaging Issues team because we may know someone with a copy they are happy to loan.)