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Sodor and Man Diocesan Dean Drapes LGBTI Flag over High Altar and Jesus Icon at Cathedral

Sodor and Man Diocesan Dean Drapes LGBTI Flag over High Altar and Jesus Icon at Cathedral

By David W. Virtue DD
June 21, 2016

An overwhelming number of residents in the Church of England's smallest diocese have expressed outrage and revulsion at the 'desecration' of the altar in St German's Cathedral, Peel on the Isle of Man.

At a special service held on Sunday June 19, 2016, at 8 pm, at the Isle of Man Cathedral, the high altar was draped with fabric of the colors of the LGBTI flag and an icon of Jesus was also draped with the same colors. Earlier during in the week the mother church of the diocese flew the Rainbow flag at half-mast in the Cathedral grounds.

The special candlelit vigil service was organized by the Dean, the Very Rev. Nigel Godfrey, in memory of the victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting with the Cathedral and the Manx Rainbow Association. Announcing the vigil on its Facebook page and on its website as well as in the local news media a Cathedral spokesperson said: "We are encouraging everyone and especially the LGBTI community on the island, to come and light a candle, to have some time for reflection and to pray for peace. Please share with those not on Facebook who may want to come to this service."

Steve Hamer, one of the Church Commissioners, who attended the service posted on the cathedral Facebook page a description of the service: "The Vigil of Lament and Hope was a well planned, thoughtful and reflective service. The Dean welcomed the many present to the quiet sanctuary of the Island's Cathedral where all are welcome to its safe place. The music, played by Dr. Peter Litman, fitted in well to the mood of the occasion - a mix of sorrow for the Orlando massacre, the long path to establish justice after the Hillsborough football disaster and hope for the future. Rev. Ian Faulds gave a short thoughtful sermon. Nobody rushed away afterwards as the Book of Condolence was signed and refreshments enjoyed. The use of colored drapes and candles was stunning (have photo but cannot drop into the text). Well done."

St German's Cathedral is part of the Diocese of Sodor and Man which is the smallest diocese in the Church of England and is part of an island which was known until very recently for its strong opposition to homosexuality which was decriminalized only in 1992. In April this year the Manx parliament passed its Marriage and Civil Partnership (Amendment) Bill -- with six votes in favor and three against allowing gay marriage in the country.

The Isle of Man is part of the British Isles and a crown dependency but has its own parliament and does not come under the UK or the EU.

Residents in this largely conservative country who spoke to VOL said that they were outraged what they called 'an abomination' and a desecration of the altar where Holy Communion is celebrated. They saw the special service as a move towards the diocese as 'jumping on the gay bandwagon and promoting the gay agenda'.

Meanwhile, the Rev. Canon John Coldwell, vicar St. Ninian's Church, the only church with an 'evangelical' patron under the patronage of the evangelical Church Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS), is organizing an Open Table to LGBTI community and 'all who seek a more inclusive church' on June 26 at 6 pm.

The Isle of Man Cathedral which has undergone significant rebranding in a desperate attempt to attract numbers recently declared itself a member of Inclusive Church. It is the first church on the Isle of Man to be a member of the ultra-liberal Anglican network. A cathedral banner announces the inclusive message: "We believe in inclusive Church - church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ."

The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, who appointed Bishop Susan Goff from Virginia as his Assisting Bishop, attended a recent Open Table service at St Bride's Church in July. Liverpool is the nearest diocese across the Irish Sea to the Diocese of Sodor and Man.


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