Tonight I watched the documentary Fr Ray Comes Out… and loved it.
Here’s the summary…
Father Ray is a warm, gregarious vicar who has been leading his central London parish for three years.
He has transformed his parish, building a community in central London, where many struggle with feelings of anonymity. Ray and the parishioners have had their ups and downs but have built a warm and loving church.
Now Ray is prepared to jeopardise all his work for the truth, and share a very personal secret with them: he is gay. He’s decided that in order to be a good minister he must be honest with his parish.
But admitting homosexuality as a vicar is not straightforward. Ray knows his news is unlikely to be welcomed by an Anglican Church that projects an ambivalent view of homosexuality. And it could be challenging to some of his more conservative parishioners. He risks alienating some of the people he considers his friends.
Anna Llewellyn’s First Cut film observes Ray as he deals with the fallout from his sermon and discovers whether or not his words have sown the seeds for a greater understanding and tolerance he dearly hopes for.
First Cut showcases the best in bold, bright and original documentaries by up-and-coming filmmakers.
Fr Ray on the Church:
When I’m thinking about the Archbishop of Canterbury, when I’m thinking about my Archdeacon, when I’m thinking about my friends who are married priests with children I think, gosh, you have your priesthood and you have an intimate loving relationship that you share with others with your congregation, with the bishop, etc, and you receive that support and love from somebody and you give that support and love to somebody. What is so bad about that that I can’t have it?
My heart was pounding as he stood up onto the pulpit. I found myself whispering God be with him even though I was watching a recording of something that had already happened. I was thinking I hope these people understand what Fr Ray, I and many others understand so clearly. That God loves us. And that our natural sexual orientations are God-given. Part of us. It doesn't matter if we're gay, straight, bisexual, or black, white, or male, female. We are God's children and are loved for who we are.
An extract from his sermon:
Recently my attention has been caught and my heart disturbed by the reporting of an apparent spate of young people taking their own lives because of torment of constant bullying. Bullied because they were perceived as gay, bullied because they were known to be gay. This issue is about real people with real lives. It’s about them and their families and friends and communities, and about the fear and ignorance of the loneliness they must have suffered. It breaks my heart. Break the silence that keeps the hatred and violence of ignorance and homophobia going. I grew up knowing some of the fear and shame and isolation these people must have suffered… because I am a homosexual. Different from my family, different from everyone else I know it took me into a place of silence and secrecy. I had an awareness of God at a very young age, I experienced God’s calling me into his love very early on as a small child, and I longed to find a church where I could feel safe and encounter the true welcome and homecoming of God’s inclusive love.
As the service ended many members of the congregation embraced him in a hug, smiling, exclaiming thrilled words of thanks and complimenting his bravery and the truth of his words. However there were some who were less friendly, and were found whispering in corner huddles… which is saddening.
But his bravery has changed and will change many lives. Great man. Thankyou Fr Ray for sharing your story.
The God I believe in, the God I know, the God who loves us, will continue to bless you. Thankyou.