I grew up within the Methodist and then Uniting church in Brisbane, and was involved in Uniting Church life through to 1994, when I returned to live in Brisbane from a country town following the breakdown of my marriage.
At that time, for no apparent reason, I couldn’t settle within the Uniting parish where I lived, and decided to try another church. The nearest one was a little Anglican church, and I was warmly welcomed by the people there, along with my two young sons when they had weekends with me. So, I stayed, felt at home within the liturgy, and five years later, found myself responding to a sense of call to ordination. Following acceptance as an ordinand and three years of study and formation, I was ordained an Anglican deacon in 2003.
All seemed right in my life and role as an honorary deacon in my parish. Except – during that period since the 90s I’d had frightening stirrings about my sexual orientation – so terrifying that I pushed these doubts out of sight within myself. In 2005 came the adventure of a trip to the UK to attend a worldwide ecumenical deacons’ conference.
When I returned home, I was disoriented and ill-at-ease, realising that it was time to face my inner stirrings head-on, once and for all. Following some long-term counselling, my confusion distilled into clarity, and I “came out”, acknowledging to myself that I am gay.
That was the beginning of a totally new sense of identity, like finding I came from another planet! I began taking the slow steps of disclosing to family and friends, and to the Anglican hierarchy. To me, opening to who I am and facing the fears, was at the centre of my journey of faith; I remember praying at that time, that if I were to be true to my deacon’s ordination vows, this was a journey I needed to face; if I ran away from it, I sensed that I could not stand up, call myself a deacon, and be genuine.
Sadly, the archbishop didn’t see things in the same way, especially about being a gay clergy person who wanted to be open, and in a relationship. Having moved here to be with my then partner in 2007, by the time I approached the archbishop of Adelaide about a formal deacon’s role, the church’s position had hardened further.
Isn’t it strange that I moved across from Uniting to Anglican in 1994 because I experienced welcome, and here I am because, at a time of great need, I have been welcomed back again!
My standing with the Anglican church is full of uncertainty, and grief at my loss of identity as a deacon – my robe and stoles haven’t seen the light of day for over three years now. This journey is a work in progress, and I ask for your prayers and support as I take it.