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Northern Ireland minister resigns from his church over LGBT ‘oppression’

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Rev Andrew Rawding. Pic: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye.

Rev Andrew Rawding. Pic: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye.

Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Rev Andrew Rawding. Pic: Stephen Hamilton/Presseye.

A Church of Ireland minister has resigned from his position as he believes the church is keeping those in the LGBT community “oppressed and discriminated against”.

Reverend Andrew Rawding, who is based in Coalisland, is a rector of Brackaville, Donaghendry and Ballyclog in Co Tyrone.

He told his congregations that he would be resigning on Sunday morning.

Rev Rawding previously accused the Church of Ireland of being “homophobic and prejudiced” for preventing him from carrying out same-sex marriages.

Those criticisms came in September, just a week after a change in the law allowed same-sex couples in Northern Ireland to have a religious wedding ceremony.

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Rev Rawding has also helped organise Pride parades in the Mid Ulster area.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster, Rev Rawding said it has been a “long build up” to his resignation as he now plans to study social work at Queen’s University.

He also reflected on the “backlash” he received when voicing his support for the LGBT community.

“I think the stance I have taken to support the LGBT community and the backlash and the opposition to that made me think, ‘Andrew what are you doing, what is your calling, what is distinctive about your ministry and how best can you follow Jesus Christ to those who have been marginalised, oppressed and rejected by society and the churches?’” he said.

“I think in terms of my relationship with people in the church, there have been some wonderfully supportive people at a personal level.

“I have had lots of messages of support and great encouragement within my parishes but I think when it comes to the structures of the church and the way the Church of Ireland operates, I haven't seen courageous, compassionate leadership - and this is a leadership issue.”

Rev Rawding added that it is clear to him that while there are people within the church who are personally supportive of the LGBT community, there is a “cultural social homophobia” within the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

“What we cannot continue to have is a situation where, worst case, there is isolation, rejection, loneliness, family break up, self harm and suicide, because of the Church of Ireland’s current homophobic approach to LGBT people and same-sex marriage,” he stated.

The Church of Ireland declined to comment when asked by the BBC.


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