Reverend Andrew Rawding has resigned his position as a clergyman from the Church of Ireland due to the homophobic stance the church has upheld. Rev Rawdling is the rector of Brackaville, Donaghendry, and Ballyclog in County Tyrone.
He has been a champion for the LGBTQ+ community all throughout his tenure. He was one of the people behind the first Mid Ulster Pride parade and is the deputy chairman for the organisation. He is known for carrying signs with apologies from the Church at the parades.
Reverend Rawding resigned on Sunday morning in all three of his parishes. He told BBC Northern Ireland that his parishioners were in shock and some were in tears when he said he was resigning.
Mid Ulster Pride made a touching post on Facebook expressing sadness that the reverend has resigned from the Church of Ireland, and noting his constant support for the organisation.
Rawding has previously made public stances against the Church’s anti-LGBTQ+ views. In particular, he has spoken out against the Church for their “homophobic, discriminate, and prejudiced stance” on same-sex marriages.
He has said that there are some “kind and compassionate individuals but corporately, at best there is indifference, at worst there is hypocrisy.”
He also claimed that there was “an aggressive and proactive opposition to full inclusion and equality for LGBT+ people, with some people still weaponising Bible verses and using the language of condemnation and rejection.”
The Church of Ireland has previously set up a committee on sexuality to enable “the listening, dialogue, and learning process on all aspects concerning human sexuality in the context of Christian belief to continue.”
But Rawding said that, in his view, the listening process carried out by the church had been a “tick-box exercise.” He said that no one in a position of power within the church “has been in touch with me, or during a conversation with me said: ‘Thanks for making a compassionate stand Andrew, let’s see how we can progress this.’”
“All I have had is blank looks and silence, or comments like: ‘I’m not homophobic because I know gay people’, or even: ‘You need to be careful because people will think you’re gay.’”
Rawding said that he now plans to start a degree in social work. He said this decision was to “follow a call to help encourage and empower those people that Jesus called ‘the least of these,’ that is those adults and children who through no fault of their own have been let down by society and the churches.”
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