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Big decision over new priest for Sussex gay community
A ground breaking scheme to appoint a priest for the county’s gay community is being considered.
Church of England bosses in Sussex are viewing the move as a way to reach out to the large LGBT community.
If approved, it would be the first position of its type in the country.
Campaigners welcomed the scheme as a sign of progress towards equality in the church.
Dr Keith Sharpe, chairman of Changing Attitude Sussex, which campaigns for LGBT equality in the Anglican Church, said: “As the established church of the land, the Church of England has a pastoral care for everybody, and in the Diocese of Chichester this includes a very large LGBT community, particularly in Brighton and Hove.
“While many parish churches are open and welcoming towards gay people, what is needed is a specific designated priest who can act as a bridge between the church and our community.
“There is alienation from the church among gay people because of what some church leaders have said, and there is a lack of understanding of what it is like to be LGBT among the churches.
“I see the role as helping each side better understand the other, for the benefit of both and the whole community.
“This would be a first for Brighton, as there is no priestly post operating in this way anywhere else.
“It could be a model for other areas with big LGBT populations to copy.”
The idea was put forward by Dr Sharpe and Father David Clues, of St Bartholomew’s Church, Brighton.
It comes just weeks after Henry Ware became the new Bishop of Chichester, the head of the Church of England in Sussex.
Douglas McKittrick, Archdeacon of Chichester, said: “The clergy who serve in the Church of England’s parishes in Brighton have a commitment to honouring the LGBT community that form an important part of this city.
“In Brighton we are talking with representatives from the LGBT community and with representatives of other groups, as well as those within the Diocese.
“The determination to serve all people equally remains at the heart of our mission.”
The news comes as Downing Street looks set to fast-track legislation for equal marriage in churches.
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