The Anglican Church must recognise the gay and lesbian communities. That’s the call from Emeritus Archbishops Desmond Tutu and Njongunkulu Ndungane.
The retired Archbishops were speaking during the funeral service of the former Dean of the St Georges Cathedral, Father Rowan Smith.
Tutu praised the late former Dean, saying sexual orientation is not a choice but a gift.
“This gentle giant who stood up for the truth, who left the world know that all are God’s children; that sexual orientation is not something that you choose, it’s a gift.”
Father Rowan Smith, commonly referred to as the “Priest of the people”, was instrumental in opening up St Georges Cathedral to the marginalised and destitute.
He used the church as a safe space and a place of encouragement.
He courageously admitted to being gay in 1998 in a religious denomination that did not embrace homosexuality.
Father Smith served as a Chaplain to then Archbishop Desmond Tutu during the anti apartheid struggle.
He held various leadership positions within the Anglican Church.
While his sexuality was accepted by his colleagues, parishioners and the congregation, the debate still remains within the church. Some want the church to bless same sex marriages.
Emeritus Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane says,”What I was calling for is that we must stop talking, we must act because we are hurting quite a sizeable number of people who are members of the churches. Because you don’t choose your sexuality. You’re born with it and therefore we need to embrace them.”
The family has welcomed the support.
Brother, Leornard Smith says,” I feel strengthened that there is kind of almost an evolutionary movement in the way we understand the Bible and the things we need to be open to a new society. That is why Rowan’s support for the LGBTI is so important.”
Smith died after he was hospitalised for a month. He was treated for a broken femur after he fell at the St Georges Cathedral more than a month ago.
He would have celebrated 50 years since he was ordained next Sunday.
Tutu says Rowan Smith was not only gentle but also steadfast.