From THE DAILY ECHO (Bournemouth, England):

A same sex couple say they have been forced out of their church for holding hands during services. Kersten Pegden and Nina Lauren said they were warned other churchgoers thought they were “overtly sexual”.

The couple, who have now stopped attending St Nicholas Anglican church in Corfe Mullen, said other couples hold hands and believe their sexuality has influenced the complaints.

Kersten said: “The vicar, who is a woman, wanted to know the details about my divorce, how long it was going to be, and the fact that it had dragged on too long. And she said members of the congregation said that during hymns we were dishonouring God because they said we were singing the hymns to each other, and that we were overtly sexual with each other. I said all we do is hold hands. I pointed out there is an elderly couple who hold hands. It’s no more sexual than if a straight couple did it.”

Kersten said many people in St Nicholas’ 50-70 strong congregation of mainly elderly people had been lovely since she came out and she expected about 10 to come to her partnership ceremony. However she said others no longer spoke to her or gossiped behind her back.

“These people who are watching us, instead of worshipping, are the ones dishonouring God,” she said.

Nina only started attending church with Kersten but had hoped to get confirmed at St Nicholas’.

St Nicholas Church said in a statement: “St Nicholas welcomes people from a variety of backgrounds and gives private pastoral care to those in need. Issues have arisen with members of the congregation which are being addressed compassionately.”

Kersten said she wrote a letter explaining to Rev Pamela Walker why she was leaving, and it included the line: “I have spent 25 years hiding and do not wish to continue that now.”

Kersten said they felt they had no choice but to leave the church. She said her daughter has had to leave the choir and her son is no longer a server. The couple, who live in Parkstone with Kersten’s four children, have now started attending mass at the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church in Dorchester.

COMMENT: What a fuss about nothing. The two ladies were only holding hands. It's not like they were carrying each others' luggage in the middle of the service.

From the parish website:

What makes this particularly sad is that the parish priest, Pamela Walker, has fought for the acceptance of the ministry of women in the Church of England, being the first woman priest at one parish she served in. You would have thought...


OPEN TO ALL. EXCEPT… — 19 Comments

  1. “St Nicholas’ 50-70 strong congregation of mainly elderly people…”

    Emphasis mine. How hard is it to establish a causal relationship? The culture changes with each new generation, and the church, remaining the same, gets more and more elderly, and smaller and smaller. By not renewing the Gospel for the new generations, we make ourselves irrelevant to them, ultimately an artifact of an earlier age.

  2. Honestly, you’d think that the congregation (with the exception of one couple) had forgotten what it was like to be in the First Flush of New Love. It’s too bad that they didn’t share the joy rather than carp.


  3. Well, not entirely generational. The Church BP and I attend (Cathedral, actually) has a lot of older people–older than us, and we’re in our late 40s. And some of these older people are gay. And many more are not. Lots of people hold hands with their loved ones in church, whether gay or straight couples, parents and children, grandparents, etc. Bp and I certainly do. It’s that kind of place, where love is celebrated.

    Church wise, I think it comes from the top. if the priest made it clear that love is love, then the older ones would put up with it.

    Sometimes I think it’s the 50-60 somethings who are more problematic than the very old. My parents (in their 80s)and their friends “roll with the punches”. I think by the time you get to be VERY old you realize that life is too precious to worry about little things.

  4. England has apparently achieved full equality. They have idiot clergy who are women as well as men. ;;sigh;;


  5. Hang on a second! It’s just clicked. IT’s wife is responsible for the oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico.


  6. Jim, we crossed that Rubycon 30 years ago when the country elected Mrs Thatcher as prime minister. We have been fully aware that the fairer sex can be as unfair as the male of the species ever since.

  7. Kersten said many people in St Nicholas’ 50-70 strong congregation of mainly elderly people had been lovely since she came out and she expected about 10 to come to her partnership ceremony.

    The fact that quite a few of the church members had given this couple acceptance makes me wish they had stuck it out a bit longer and perhaps fought harder. It really might have been worth saying to the vicar, “We’re not doing anything wrong and we don’t see why we should stop holding hands, and we’re going to keep doing it.” But, y’know, I’m not them and I wasn’t there. Sad.

  8. Inside a supposed church which claims to preach love, bigotry.
    Outside the church, no bigotry.

  9. You’ve got the first bit right. But you’re being a bit naive in your second statement. Most queer bashers don’t tend to be church goers. They tend to be sick nutters like the trolls that hang around Christian blogs.

  10. That’s disgusting! — the expulsion, I mean 😉

    WWJD? — the polar opposite. He’d probably gaze at those embracing hands for a long, tender moment, and then say something like,

    “Beloved, love one another.”

  11. Fraid not, Jaliya. As I’ve pointed out many times before, Jesus was English. So he would have told everybody in the church not to hold hands. In fact, he would have banned all touching of any sort. It would be pillarofsaltville for the huggers.

  12. The C of E has never recovered from the introduction of sharing the peace. Shake the dust from your feet my dears – let it settle elsewhere.

  13. “These people who are watching us, instead of worshipping, are the ones dishonouring God,” she said.

    Bingo!!! I’m so sick and tired of this kind of crap.

  14.      I’ve always understood society can decide what is decent in public and what is not. Once they have decided, however, something like holding hands or a chaste kiss are publicly acceptable, they shouldn’t get to decide who does it.

  15. well it offended people because you had an example of two people, IN THE SAME CONGREGATION, who really liked each other. There, do you see the problem? Two people getting along under the same church roof. Unacceptable, I tell you.

    Things like that could spread. You could wind up with a whole congregation who get along with each other, and don’t keep grudges and fights going, if you aren’t careful. Then what kind of church would you have, hmmmm?

  16. There is nothing to say you can’t have a church where everyone likes each other. But this happened in England where it is considered very bad form to show such things or even to mention them in public.

  17. It is cowardly of Pamela Priest to cave in to pressure from a minority of her congregation to ostracize this couple.

    Damned homophobes are so rude and they have dirty minds.