A leading theological college that trains priests for the Church of England has apologised after it hosted a service to mark LGBT history month that referred to God as “the Duchess”.
Student priests at Westcott House in Cambridge organised the evensong service on Tuesday in the college chapel. Advertised as a “Polari evening prayer in anticipation of LGBT+ history month”, it was described as a “liturgical experiment”. Polari is slang used by some gay people.
A prayer referred to the “Fantabulosa fairy” and ended: “Praise ye the Duchess. The Duchess’s name be praised.” Psalm 19 was reworded to refer to “O Duchess, my butchness”.
The service was “an attempt at queering the liturgy of evening prayer, locating the queer within the compass of faith, and recovering for the Christian tradition a sense of its own intrinsically subversive jouissance,” said a printed explanation.
The organisers said that just as Jesus welcomed the outcast, “Today we might follow in the footsteps of his daring, boldly and outrageously welcoming the Queer (both human and divine) in a way never before attempted.”
The college principal, the Rev Canon Chris Chivers, said the service was “hugely regrettable”. It used “a form of liturgy which was not an authorised act of worship in line with the college’s procedures,” he said. “I fully recognise that the contents of the service are at variance with the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England, and that is hugely regrettable.”
The service had caused some members of the college “considerable upset and disquiet”. Chivers said he had spoken to the organisers and was “tightening the internal mechanisms of the house to ensure this never happens again”. The college hoped “to make a creative contribution to setting a different tone for the debate on human sexuality in the church. But this was not it,” he said.
Ya think….??? Ya. Think?