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Anglo-Saxon era church bringing the church into disrepute

Jewry Wall and St Nicholas.jpg
St Nicholas Church is a Church of England parish church, and the oldest place of worship in Leicester, England.

The Anglo-Saxon era St Nicholas Church in Leicester is so steeped in history that a chunk of 1,900-year-old Roman wall still adjoins its churchyard. Among the 10 oldest in Britain this church is bringing some upheaval in this 21st century.

In a country which has seemed so conservative about gay matters the Church of England parish church in Leicester, wanted to put out a strange sign to the world. You would think an altar is a holy or set apart item in church, not being part of worldly issues. Though in Leicester they seem to think differently.

After the Church of England bishops refused last week to endorse same-sex marriages following six years of debate and consultation, but agreed to “apologise” to LGBTQI+ people and offer them blessings following a civil partnership or marriage. Next month it could well be at the Synod, which is being convened from Feb 6 to 9 that they will discuss the matter to have equal marriage proposals to be brought back to the next Synod meeting in July.

Jayne Ozanne, an LGBT+ campaigner and member of General Synod finds that

“The Church of England must not be allowed to continue to discriminate against people who are gay or bisexual – it is unjust and in the minds of many, unbiblical.”

The official church of the University of Leicester wanted to give a sign already now and placed a rainbow Pride flag around the altar, which triggered the first court battle of its kind within the so-called “church of woke”.

Following six years of consultation and deliberation, bishops have rejected calls for gay marriages in churches, and have instead proposed, for the first time, that same sex couples can receive blessings after being married in a civil ceremony.

It is not bad for a church community to openly declare that one should be open to all kinds of people, irrespective of their orientation. But allowing homophiles and transgender people to be welcomed into the community does not have to mean hanging up pride flags in the house of worship. That is a step too far.

For sure we may not discriminate, but that does not mean we do have to go the other way round, putting up symbols in our houses of prayers whilst other days we do not allow worldly symbols or flags.

For many Christians, the altar is also deemed to be the most sacred part of the church where the Eucharist is consecrated. In many denominations, it is also the custom for it to be adorned with white sheets normally, or green, purple, gold or red sheets on some occasions. No normal person would ever think of putting a rainbow-coloured sheet on it.

Last September, St Nicholas announced that the Pride flags it hung from the altar at weekend services were replaced with “something a little more permanent” – a huge “Progress Pride flag” made of fabric.

It was gifted by a congregation member at the All Saints with Holy Trinity church in Loughborough, which rewrote a Christmas carol to be inclusive.

“People were actually weeping in the pews when they saw it,”

said Jay Hulme, a local transgender poet and the warden of St Nicholas Church.

Last October, the church was forced to take the Pride altar frontal down and apply for the planning permission, known as a faculty, that it should have sought initially.

With hundreds of protests flooding the Archdeacon of Leicester’s inbox from churches around the country and the world, it has been sent to the consistory court, the Church of England’s ruling body, where the chancellor of the diocese will rule imminently on whether the pride altar can stay.

You can ask if a government or civil persons can require the right to have their relationships solemnised in their local parish in England or any other country.

If certain persons have feelings towards each other that do not conform to the values or thought line of a spiritual movement, one may ask why they still want to obtain affirmation and blessing from that community. Should they not then approach a church community that is open to such relationships?

The issue has been under discussion within the Church of England for a long time. The Episcopal Church in Scotland and the Church of Scotland have agreed to offer same-sex marriage, and the Church in Wales plans to do so soon.

Sam Margrave, a member of General Synod, the Church of England’s governing council who has led the campaign, fears an “infiltration” in the Church of

“moral anarchy, where they’re tearing down biological sex and the idea of monogamous marriage”.

For him the pulpit and their altar table have been hijacked by political activists.

Instead of preaching the gospel, they’ve turned it into a church of woke.

he says.

However, we should not lose sight of what a church serves for and how we as humans should ‘earn’ our place.

In any case, a house of worship is not a place for political debates or for putting forward issues that are against biblical precepts and values. Believers are supposed to abide by the precepts of that particular church community they have chosen. There are enough types of churches that people can join to feel at home.

If a particular church wants to express itself with worldly matters, it is up to the members to question this and check that no Biblical doctrines are violated.

The Rev Dr Ian Paul, also a General Synod member who sits on the powerful Archbishops’ Council, says

“The Communion table is the place where we gather together to meet with God, remember Jesus’ death and resurrection for us, and ‘receive all the benefits of his passion’ (in the words of the Communion service).

“This is not a place for political protest. It is no more appropriate than putting up the flag of a political party. And with the Progress flag, it is gender ideology.

“Worse than that, this flag is a sign of exclusion. People like me, who believe and teach the doctrine of the Church of England on marriage, could not come and receive Communion at this table, since the flag contradicts the teaching of the Church, which all clergy vow to uphold at their ordination.”

Sam Margrave wants to welcome the gay and lesbian community, but there are better ways to do it.

“This flag is about an attack on women’s rights. It includes the trans stuff and I believe as a Christian that God says we are made male or female, there is no such thing as non-binary.

“I hope that the court will make the right decision. If the chancellor were to rule and set a precedent, then it would open the floodgates.”

he says.

At the moment the flag contradicts the teaching of the Church of England, so one could wonder how much there is division in that church under the clergy. Is it not that all clergy have a vow to uphold at their ordination?

The design of the rainbow altar uses the progress flag, which includes a controversial triangle for transgender identities.

For St Nicholas’s part, the Rev Canon Karen Rooms has told the court in its statement of needs that the Pride altar

“is about pastoral care and a simple statement of welcome and safety”.

Branding the complainers as “further evidence of this sort of hostility”, the appeal said it

“is a profound invitation for people who have experienced rejection, hate and abuse, sometimes from those in the Church”.

It added:

“On this altar table, in each act of worship, we remember the death of Christ. His experience of rejection and physical torture is not unknown to LGBTQIA+ people. This act of remembrance mediates the solidarity of Christ with the suffering of those in our community.”

A judgment on the flag altar is expected from the consistory court within days following comments from what sources say is a “whole coalition” of biblical, feminist and ideological arguments for and against it.



  1. Living in this world and viewing it
  2. Living and Loving Faithfully
  3. LGBTQ+ people Welcome or not welcome in a Church
  4. Gay people in the Church of England
  5. Governments, media and people clashing over gender issues


Additional reading

  1. 2014 Human Rights
  2. Growing rift between observant parents and their children
  3. Going for sustainable development



  1. ALP ready to debate gay marriage [Australia]
  2. Gay Marriage @Dutch TV soap
  3. Will you?
  4. Beeldtaal: Rain Bow
  5. softly whistling to a gay marriage
  6. Live Simple
  7. Een LGBT-inclusieve werkomgeving: gezeik of mensenrecht?
  8. De jeugd van tegenwoordig
  9. Regering Servië verbiedt Mars tijdens EuroPride in Belgrado
  10. Pride-deelnemers strijden in metro Charkov voor gelijke rechten
  11. Tegen het huwelijk en voor het homohuwelijk
  12. Proteha Matrimonio Hetero i Monogamo

Published by Bijbelvorsers

Flemish Bible researcher, belonging to the Belgian Biblestudents. - Vlaams Bijbelvorser, behorende tot de Belgische Bijbelstudenten.

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