Northern Ireland news

Rev Andrew Rawding believes church authorities will never accept him

Former British Soldier and Church of Ireland minister Rev Andrew Rawding. Picture by Mal McCann.
Connla Young

Campaigning Church of Ireland minister Rev Andrew Rawding believes church authorities will never accept his LGBT views.

The Coalisland based cleric has been a prominent supporter of the gay community in the Mid Ulster area over recent years.

Just last week he announced his intention to step down as a church minister over the institution's attitude towards LGBT issues.

He serves as rector of Brackaville, Donaghendry and Ballyclog parishes, which are all in the Coalisland area of Co Tyrone.

Rev Rawding has claimed that the Church of Ireland was "structurally, culturally and socially homophobic".

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"There are some kind and compassionate individuals but corporately, at best there is indifference, at worst there is hypocrisy," he said.

He also claimed that there was "an aggressive and proactive opposition to full inclusion and equality for LGBT+ people, with some people still weaponising Bible verses and using the language of condemnation and rejection".

Speaking to the Irish News he said there have been times when he has felt alone during his ministry.

"I have found its been quiet a lonely journey, quite an isolating journey as a church of Ireland rector," he said.

"There has been some support but it has been largely quiet support, not public support and I think I have got to the point where I have thought, well, you have done what you can and in terms of the structure within the Church of Ireland."

Rev Rawding believes his support for minority communities means he will not get another job as a Church of Ireland minister.

"I don't actually think any other parish, certainly in the north of Ireland, were going to take me as their rector because of my public stance in support of the LGBT community," he said.

"Only because it would draw attention to them as a parish.

He believes opposition to him comes from the top down.

"I have applied on numerous occasions, I will not get another job in the Church of Ireland because bishops simply will not accept me," he said

"I used to be rejected because I was divorced and now its not just being divorced, its public and vocal support for the LGBT community."

Rev Rawding now intends to take up a course in social work at Queens University Belfast in September.

The Church of Ireland declined to comment.

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