URC & Zoom — 8 February 2022 – Nick Bundock

Inclusive Church

Who's in and who's out?

This talk will be in Church Stretton URC.

On 10 September 2014, 14-year-old Lizzie Lowe sent a text to a friend, ending with the words, “...stay strong. I am sorry.” The text sparked a frantic search for the teenager.

Lizzie was an outgoing and fun-loving young woman, who loved sport and music. She was part of the church youth group, and played her flute in church. She enjoyed the love and respect of many friends, only the closest of whom knew of her struggles in reconciling her same-sex attraction with her Christian faith. Sexuality wasn’t talked about at her church.

Tragically, the search for Lizzie that day ended with finding that she had died alone, having taken her own life. The Coroner's report concluded that Lizzie's sexuality and her perception of faith were at odds with one another, and this had been a significant factor in her coming to a point where she felt she could not go on.

Reflecting on that day and the journey her church has been on since then, Rev Nick Bundock says:

“As the leader of a fairly large suburban evangelical Anglican church I have every sympathy with fellow leaders who wish to avoid the ‘LGBTQ’ topic at all costs. But as I found out to my shame there is a cost to this approach which really is too high to pay. Losing Lizzie blew a hole right through centre of our community and the discovery that her suicide was, in large part, caused by the gulf between faith and sexuality turned our community inside out and upside down. Lizzie’s death and the revelation that our praxis was partly to blame led us to a place of deep repentance and repentance is a messy and painful process.

“The St James and Emmanuel of today is a truly beautiful community, there is something special about it. This was Lizzie’s gift to us and it was grasped and made real through communal repentance and rebirth. My one regret, and a regret that will endure throughout my life, is that it took Lizzie’s death to bring about this transformation. I hope that Lizzie can be a gift to other churches too and that they can find the freedom we eventually found, but without the great cost.”

Nick Bundock will be at Engaging Issues in Church Stretton to encourage us to think about our own attitudes, in what is said and unsaid. Is being silent on issues of sexuality a way of keeping the peace, or a silent form of rejection? Nick will take us through the journey he and the community in Didsbury have been on in the past seven years, with the discussions, insights, and decisions that they came to along the way.

Nick Bundock

Nick Bundock is the rector of St James and Emmanuel church in Didsbury, Manchester. Nick describes his parish (rather tongue in cheek) as the ‘Hollywood of Manchester’ due to the high number of actors and media workers who live in the parish.

Nick’s church community is unusual in that while gently evangelical by tradition, it has a large and growing LGBTQ+ community and hosts and organises a Pride event each year. Inclusion is at the heart of the faith community, and it promotes this nationally and internationally under the banner of ‘Church for Everyone’.

Nick has a background in science with a PhD in molecular biology and plant biochemistry, but felt called to ordination from the age of fourteen. His love of growing plants continues in adult life and he believes many of the same techniques apply to tending a church. Nick has a Cardigan Welsh Corgi and a family who adore him (the dog).