LGBT & Priesthood
Pastoral Letter from Anthony Skelton
Dear Fellow Members of LGBT Community,
I will continue as promised my journey from my last pastoral letter “LGBT & Faith,” about going to London to search for my vocation in the church, discovering my sexuality and meeting my husband on the 31 bus to Camden for the first time, and how I know God loves us and calls us.
After leaving the hostel where I was working with mentally and physically disabled. I went on to work in a Methodist mission day centre for the homeless, where I worked for over a year before becoming a bus conductor.
I spent over five years of uncertainty seeking if I was called to the priesthood, just looking and waiting for a door to open, and finally the day came for me to see my priest and I asked Jesus before our meeting to either open or close the door and promised whatever the priest said, I would accept. I asked my priest if he thought that I had a calling into the priesthood and his response was a bitter disappointment.
The priest told me I needed someone in my life and that I was not priesthood material and so I went to work on the 31 bus to Camden, with a heavy heart but knew it had to be answer to prayer and the door to priesthood was closed.
In the early evening while upstairs collecting fares on my bus, I heard a voice shout out; “My friend fancy’s you.” I turned around rather perked up to see who spoke to me and saw his friend making a hasty exit down the stairs. With the competition now gone he was able to chat me up and asked me what time I finished. I gave him the details of my last run from Camden and he promised to be there.
I could not wait for my last run and finish, and there he was waiting for me at the bus terminal ready for my last run back to the garage. Once I paid my takings in, we went to the Copa Cabana Club in Earls Court and had a wonderful time together and on the way home he told me a truth about himself and I told him a truth about myself. It was love at first sight and when we made love for our first time we gazed in each others eyes and our souls just lit up.
With the door to the priesthood closed, another opened to along lasting committed relationship lasting now nearly 31 years. Jesus had answered my prayer in less than a day and closed the door to the priesthood, and opening another door to a deep and loving relationship with my now husband.
Over the years we have been there for each other through many a dark times and illness, and our faith continues to grow being a source of strength. With my partners illness and my dad’s illness, the privatisation of the buses in London and my work colleagues making a mockery me because of my sexuality after asking me to stand for union rep and then humiliate me, caused me to have several mental health breakdowns and since diagnosed with schizophrenia.
We have always stood together despite our physical problems and my mental health issues and this is what marriage is all about. The important thing is we are together and our faith grows no matter what malicious insults or discrimination we encounter for we may carry our cross today, but we know we will exchange for a crown one day and that paradise will be ours.
Over the years since the door to the priesthood was closed to me, I have seen vocations to the priesthood diminish with priests having to be caretaker for more than one parish. Even the acceptance of women into the priesthood within the Anglican community, the priests have to be caretaker of more than one parish and it is a problem within all churches.
The Pope declared this year to be a year of mercy, but did not extended that mercy to LGBT Community. Then how can a Pope who is not merciful to himself or the priesthood, be merciful? Well I can be merciful to him and the priesthood and say that their failure is the responsibility of the whole church, priest and people alike. The many demands on our priests, force them to live secret lives and celibacy should not be compulsory for any priest, whatever their sexuality.
Last nights BBC Panorama revealed that Pope John Paul II had a deep friendship with a married woman. Was it fair that he was expected to be celibate, when clearly he needed someone in his life. We are not expected to be hermits by God and even Jesus sent his disciples out in two’s, so why then do the people expect our popes and priesthood to be denied a deep and loving relationship which we all want for ourselves and force them to live closeted lives, whatever their sexuality.
Recently Jesus asked me to pray for His Glory and aware that His Glory is the people and His Bride the Church was falling apart, I prayed and hoped I could do more than just pray to help, and then Stonewall opened that door with their invitation for me to partake in tonight's live twitter chat, LGBT & Faith.
The LGBT Community can be the making of Christ’s Church, or homophobia will be it’s downfall. While the church however continues to make us unwelcome, we must watch, wait and pray for the Glory of Christ which is all of humanity and people of all faiths and none.
God promised in Sacred Scripture that in the last days he would choose the despised and rejected of men, to humble the proud and exalt the humble and pour out His Holy Spirit on all flesh, men and women alike and Christ promised that in the last days He would speak to us plainly in a language all will understand.
We need to retire to private prayer and listen to Christ speaking to our hearts and feeding our minds which are like attics full of rubbish that we do not need or want with painful memories so we can clear the loft space of our minds and find the jewels we had lost and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, feed us, and heal our minds with the living word of Christ in Spirit and in Truth.
The LGBT Community are God’s people and part of the Family of God and while all of humanity for thousands of years have persecuted us, we are all the more loved by God and called to be priest like and shepherd his people and lead them to Christ who is the Lamb of God and our Good Shepherd who like lambs Christ wants to carry us on his shoulders, so we can do the same for Him and gather His people who have been scattered and rejected by organised religion, so they can live more liberated lives and be free.
We cannot turn the hearts of the people to organised religion, but we can turn them to Christ by turning the hearts of the children to their parents, and hearts of the parents to their young, for what parent would want their children to be subjected to the prejudice and fear that we suffer and have their children enslaved to fear and prejudice that is turning our world into violence and hate.
The LGBT Community know what true family values are and we are also the Glory of God and Christ, who be washed in the Blood of Christ and made whole in the Body of Christ. Therefore for my husband and I and follow my website and pray that it may be a resource of encouragement for all.
Our Rainbow Flag is a symbol of God’s promise of redemption and salvation through Christ Jesus Our Lord, so fear not that others may despise and reject us, for Christ calls us to be His, filled with the Holy Spirit and set free.
Faithful & True
Live Twitter Chat 16th February 2016