Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 28 November 2020

James Martin America magazine Whatever brings a person to God is holy–whether you like it or not

Jonathan Clatworthy The point of it all Love or faith? Can we live with both?

Jo Sadgrove ViaMedia.News LLF: Power, “Mother Church” and the Anglican Communion

Giles Goddard ViaMedia.News LLF: Can Perfect Love Cast Out Fear?

Giles Fraser UnHerd We don’t need more spreadsheet vicars

Stephen Conway All Things Lawful And Honest Only Connect

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Inclusive pro-LGBTIQ+ group writes to thirty four pro-gay bishops

Jonathan Clark The Commonwealth of HeaveLiving in love and faith – and peace, with justice

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Reflections on Churchmanship Labels in the Church of England

Archdruid Eileen Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley Take a Break, Justin

10 Comments

Living in Love and Faith – statement by the Bishops of London and Coventry

Press release from the Church of England

Living in Love and Faith: Learning together with our different experiences and theological understandings
25/11/2020

A statement from Bishop Sarah Mullally (Chair of the Next Steps Group) and Bishop Christopher Cocksworth (Chair of the LLF Coordinating Group).

Specific and harmful targeting of some of the individuals who have courageously shared their stories as part of LLF is wrong and not in the spirit of LLF and the Pastoral Principles commended by the House of Bishops. Personal insults and attacks are contrary to the respect, love, grace, kindness and compassion to which we are all called.

We are profoundly grateful to each person who has taken the path of sharing their story publicly for the Living in Love and Faith project. They enrich our learning and invite us to acknowledge the diversity found in the Church today. They are to be received with openness.

Engaging with the LLF resources is enriching and, at different points for different people, challenging. Questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage are deeply personal with real-life consequences. It is vital that our ongoing conversations and processes of learning and discernment take place in as safe a way as possible.

The LLF process of learning together with our different lived experiences and theological understandings is challenging and will not succeed without respect, love, grace, kindness and compassion.

49 Comments

Opinion – 25 November 2020

Jayne Ozanne ViaMedia.News LLF: That Video, Those Principles & a Call for a Public Inquiry

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Christian Concern and Anglican Mainstream sabotage the LLF process

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Politics, Evangelicals and the Church of England

Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel Past Cases Review 2

Karen Armstrong The Guardian Dear archbishop, now is not the time to take a sabbatical

48 Comments

General Synod – day 3

The Church of England’s General Synod meets virtually from 1300 on Monday until 1530 today. The papers are available here.

Video recording of the day’s proceedings

Order paper 4 – details of the morning’s business

Order paper 5 – details of the afternoon’s business

The main item of business in the morning was a presentation and debate on Safeguarding (GS 2184). There is an official press release reporting on this: Unanimous Synod support for IICSA report.

This was followed by final approval of a new Diocesan Boards of Education Mesure: Diocesan Boards of Education Measure approved by General Synod.

Reports from members and the press

Stephen Lynas Who’s sorry now?

Andrew Nunn ‘Wearing thin’

Church Times Synod votes unanimously to accept IICSA recommendations

2 Comments

Bishop of Dorchester

Press release from Number 10
There is more detail on the Oxford diocesan website.

Suffragan Bishop of Dorchester: 24 November 2020

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Gavin Andrew Collins MA to the Suffragan See of Dorchester.

Published 24 November 2020
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street

The Queen has approved the nomination of the Venerable Gavin Andrew Collins MA, Archdeacon of the Meon, in the diocese of Portsmouth to the Suffragan See of Dorchester, in the diocese of Oxford, in succession to the Right Reverend Colin William Fletcher OBE who resigned on 16 November 2020.

Gavin was educated in Law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and worked as a solicitor in the City of London, before training for ministry at Trinity College Bristol. He served his title at St Barnabas, Cambridge, in the diocese of Ely and was ordained Priest in 1998.

In 2002, Gavin was appointed Vicar at Christ Church, Chorleywood, in the diocese of St Albans and, from 2006, he additionally served as Rural Dean of Rickmansworth.

In 2011, Gavin took up his current role as Archdeacon of The Meon in the diocese of Portsmouth.

Gavin is married to Christina, who is a Health Visitor, and they have three young adult children.

8 Comments

House of Bishops – Monday 23 November 2020

The House of Bishops met yesterdday evening and issued this press release. There is a misprint as the Regulations are actually GS 2191. There are also some explanatory notes (GS 2191X).

House of Bishops – Monday 23rd November 2020 via Zoom
24/11/2020

The House of Bishops met on the evening of Monday 23rd November, in the margins of Synod, and approved the Religious Communities Regulations 2020 as set out in (GS 2192) (“the Regulations”).

The Religious Communities Regulations set out the conditions a community must meet in order to be declared, under Canon DA 1, to be a religious community in the Church of England. These conditions include the requirement that all religious communities of the Church of England must comply with all House of Bishops Safeguarding policies and practice guidance.

This legislation follows on from a resolution at General Synod in February 2018. The resolution called on the Business Committee to provide a framework for religious life in the Church of England noting the historic importance of religious communities in the life of the faithful and celebrating the many new expressions of the religious life through Recognised and Acknowledged Communities.

Once approved by the House, the Regulations will be subject to approval by the General Synod.

The House then briefly received updates from the various works streams operating under the auspices of the Emerging Church Groups, with a forward look to the House of Bishops meeting in December, where they will be discussed in greater detail.

0 Comments

General Synod – day 2

The Church of England’s General Synod meets virtually from 1300 yesterday until 1530 on Wednesday. The papers are available here.

Video recording of the morning’s proceedings
Video recording of the afternoon’s proceedings

Order paper 2 – details of the morning’s business
Order paper 3 – details of the afternoon’s business

The morning’s business started with a presentation from the Archbishop of York on Vision and Strategy, based on this paper: A Vision for the Church of England in the 2020s, ‘Christ centred and Jesus shaped. Simpler, humbler, bolder’. This is accompanied by A theological reflection on our emerging vision and priorities, ‘Salt for the earth, light for the world’ by Stephen Croft, Bishop of Oxford, and by this summary.

The other morning business was the Cathedrals Measure which received final approval.

Reports from members and the press

Stephen Lynas A change gonna come

Andrew Nunn Simpler, Humbler, Bolder

Church Times Synod: cathedral governance put on a new footing

2 Comments

General Synod – day 1

Update – the voting figures below were corrected on Wednesday morning; there is an explanation in this order paper.

The Church of England’s General Synod meets virtually from 1300 today until 1530 on Wednesday. The papers are available here.

Video recording of the day’s proceedings

Stephen Lynas previews the business in some detail: I only had a picture of you. So too does Andrew Nunn but only briefly: Here we go again!

Order paper 1 – details of the afternoon’s business

The Archbishops gave a joint presentation to Synod, summarised in this press release: We must change to become a ‘simpler, humbler, bolder Church’ – Archbishops tell Synod. There are links to their full remarks here and here.

There was a debate on the response to the covid-19 pandemic (GS 2192) at the end of which this motion

That this Synod, recognising the profound challenge to life and wellbeing posed by the Covid-19 pandemic:
(a) call upon the whole church to hold in prayer all those ill, bereaved, unemployed or suffering mentally as a result of the virus, to pray for Her Majesty’s Government and all who hold responsibility for navigating the intractable dilemmas that Covid-19 poses;
(b) give thanks for the continuing selfless service of NHS and social care staff, scientists, and key workers in every sector, encouraging all to follow their example by affirming the common good over sectional interests;
(c) request the church’s representatives, in conversations with Her Majesty’s Government, to press the case for reducing social inequalities, especially the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME people, children living in poverty, disabled people, elderly people and those living with chronic health conditions, and to reflect concerns expressed by Synod in debate on this motion;
(d) express concern that the God given image, dignity and value of disabled and/or elderly people, including all those in residential care homes, are diminished when they are denied access to the same level of health care as the rest of the population;
(e) call on Her Majesty’s Government to preserve the United Kingdom’s foreign aid budget at 0.7% of GDP, sending a strong signal that the United Kingdom is a reliable partner for long-term economic, social, environmental and educational advancement across the globe;
(f) celebrate the role of churches in building mental and spiritual resilience to face the crisis and, affirming the role of worship and the sacraments as the source of Christian service and discipleship, call upon Her Majesty’s Government immediately to review the decision to curtail public worship during lockdown.

was passed by 349 votes to 5 with 9 recorded abstentions.

There was then the usual debate on the Report of the Business Committee (GS 2179). There was a counted vote on the motion to take note of this report with 179 votes in favour, 56 against and 24 recorded abstentions. The significant vote against might be explained by this speech from Jayne Ozanne.

The day’s business concluded with Questions.

Reports from members and the press

Stephen Lynas Can’t take my eyes off you

Andrew Nunn Crystal Maze

Church Times Synod: Archbishops defend LLF and warn of post-pandemic changes

Church Times Synod highlights injustices in pandemic response

4 Comments

A sheep or a goat?

What is it about sheep and goats? Today’s gospel reading (Matthew 25.31–46) for the feast of Christ the King portrays the Son of Man, Jesus himself, coming in glory and seated on his throne, taking up his kingship, separating the people into two groups: the sheep who are to enjoy eternal life, and the goats consigned to eternal punishment.

I’ve come to see this story as part of a commentary on, or explanation of, the Summary of the Law. In the famous passage in another gospel, Luke 10.25–37, Jesus gives the Summary (essentially: love God, love neighbour) but is asked in response Who is my neighbour? He answers with the story of the Good Samaritan: our neighbour is whoever helps us, and by implication whomever we help. In today’s passage from Matthew, on the other hand, Jesus turns to the implied other question: What does it means to love God?

Jesus’s answer is that we love God when we love our neighbour. We take God’s name in vain when we say we love God, but don’t feed the hungry, don’t house the homeless, don’t nurse the sick, don’t visit the prisoner, and so on. That’s taking God’s name in vain because it is saying we love God, but not actually doing so, because loving God is doing those things. And those things are the things that happen in God’s kingdom, so when we do those things we live in the kingdom – the kingdom is truly at hand. When we do this then our allegiance is truly to God and God’s principles, rather than those of this world. When we don’t do them then we are not dwelling in the kingdom, and instead are far from God, condemning ourselves to live apart from God. That’s the scenario, in highly rhetorical and apocalyptic language, that Jesus presents us with in this passage.

And when does this judgement happen? In the apocalyptic language of the passage it happens when the Son of Man comes in glory – at the end of the age. A friend once pointed out to me, however, that the story does not have to be interpreted as about a final judgement. That is Jesus’s rhetoric of hyperbole, catching the attention of his hearers and getting them to think, to remember and to act. Instead we can see it as judgement here and now on each act that we do or do not undertake. At each moment, each act or non-act, when we do these things we are close to God, participating in the kingdom, and when we do not then we are far from God.

The same theme can be seen in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s name is hallowed when his will is done here on earth as it is in the heavens. And what does that mean? It means when the hungry each day have bread to eat (and by association, or the rhetoric of synecdoche, the other needs are met too – sheltering the homeless, protecting the oppressed, and the like) and when we live at peace with each other, forgiving and being forgiven. That is when we dwell in the kingdom, and we pray that we will not be tempted away from it by the glamour of worldly evil.

That is when Christ reigns. That is when Christ is king.

Image of sheep and goats from Bucheit Agri.

16 Comments

Opinion – 21 November 2020

Peter Leonard ViaMedia.News LLF – Patience & Pain

Rosie Harper ViaMedia.News LLF: Power, Fear & Our Inability To Do The Right Thing

Andrew Village and Leslie Francis Church Times The writing is on the wall for fragile rural churches
“The pandemic has exacerbated the crisis, and action is needed urgently”

Gilo Surviving Church BLM and Redress Schemes
[In this context BLM is a law firm – ed]

Lee Gatiss Church Society Initial thoughts on LLF

Trevor Thurston-Smith The Pensive Pilgrim Mirror, Mirror : A Journey in Imagination for the Heterosexual Christian

Philip Murray Dinner at the Vicarage Wine for the Feast: the wine cellar and eschatology

85 Comments

General Synod questions

The questions (and their answers) for next week’s meeting of the Church of England General Synod have been published.

Questions

Question 4

19 Comments

Cathedral Statistics 2019

The Church of England has released its Cathedral Statistics for 2019. There is an accompanying press release, copied below.

Visitor and worshipper numbers to England’s cathedrals grew prior to lockdown
20/11/2020

England’s cathedrals continue to play a huge role in the worship, heritage, and civic life of the country according to the latest figures from the Church of England.

In 2019, 1.3 million people attended services at cathedrals across the country, with midweek service attendance continuing to grow.

England’s cathedrals also attracted nearly 10 million visitors a year, the new data predating Covid-19 restrictions shows.

(more…)

5 Comments

A new complaint about the Dean of Christ Church

Updated Friday evening

The Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, Martyn Percy is now the subject of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure, according to the Diocese of Oxford, which has amended the statement it first issued on 18 November and it now reads as follows:

19 November 2020
Following media reports, our statement is updated as follows

We are disappointed that those seeking to support the Dean are reportedly trying to downplay the severity of the complaint. Such actions belittle the complainant and only add to the distress of anyone else considering a complaint against someone in a senior position. The complaint, which has been brought to the Church under the Clergy Discipline Measure, will be properly and thoroughly investigated.

18 November 2020

The Bishop of Oxford has agreed with the Very Revd Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church, that Martyn will step back from office, while a complaint is properly considered.

Christ Church is a complex institution and, uniquely in the Church of England, the Dean of the Cathedral is also Head of an Oxford College. Christ Church has written to students and staff with the following statement. The statement has also been shared with the Cathedral congregation and those at the Cathedral School.

“The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Martyn Percy, has voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities in his role as Dean of the College and Cathedral. Christ Church will not be commenting further whilst necessary inquiries are under way. The Charity Commission and relevant Church of England authorities are being kept fully informed.”

The Bishop of Oxford is in close contact with all concerned. His prayers, and those of the Diocese, are with everyone at Christ Church.

Christ Church itself has today issued the following press release:

Statement regarding the Dean of Christ Church

Yesterday Christ Church wrote to internal stakeholders to say that the Dean of Christ Church has stepped back from his duties in the College and Cathedral.

There have been some suggestions in the media that the Dean has resigned. We can clarify that this is not the case. The wording of Christ Church’s statement is set out below:

“The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Martyn Percy, has voluntarily withdrawn with immediate effect from all duties and pastoral responsibilities in his role as Dean of the College and Cathedral. Christ Church will not be commenting further whilst necessary inquiries are under way. The Charity Commission and relevant Church of England authorities are being kept fully informed.”

The Church Times has reported this as Supporters warned off as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, steps back. This story was updated on Friday, and now contains the following:

SUPPORTERS of the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Professor Martyn Percy, have been reprimanded by the Oxford diocese. The supporters, in turn, have asked why members of the college’s Governing Body have not been criticised…

…The diocesan statement, in turn, has been criticised by David Lamming, a friend of Dean Percy and a General Synod member, as a “wholly inappropriate public comment while the current allegation is under investigation”. He objects, in particular, to the reference to “severity”, and asks for information about the authorship of the statement.
Other allies of the Dean have pointed out that the diocesan reprimand is one-sided. It is said that at least one member of the college’s Governing Body was known to have briefed journalists anonymously about the case…

 

23 Comments

Opinion – 18 November 2020

Helen King ViaMedia.News Living in Love & Faith – Waiting for Godot

Diarmaid MacCulloch Modern Church Living in Love and Faith

David Monteith Dean of Leicester Living in Love and Faith
“No change but change?”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church ‘Vulnerable Adults’ and Safeguarding literature.

Church of England Evangelical Council The Beautiful Story “a film to encourage and enable evangelicals to engage and contend in discussions about human sexuality”. It’s 32 minutes long. They have also published a fuller introduction and suggested ‘next steps’ for church leaders here.
Charlie Bell has published this response.

74 Comments

Update on Church’s response to IICSA report

One of the papers, released ten days ago, for next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod is GS 2184 Response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s Final Investigation Report into the Anglican Church. This has been followed up today by the following press release.

Update on Church’s response to IICSA report
16/11/2020

Following the publication (Oct 6) of its overarching IICSA report, the Church’s national governing bodies have all endorsed a motion apologising to victims and survivors and committing to urgently implementing the six IICSA recommendations. There will be a particular focus on independent safeguarding and redress for survivors and victims

Project groups will be set up including for independence and redress work streams. The independence workstream is about scoping the best structure for independent oversight of the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in place of the Archbishops’ Council. The House of Bishops also agreed that an interim arrangement is put in place prior to the establishment of this new body.

A further project group will also be set up to implement Recommendation 1 which proposes that diocesan safeguarding officers (DSOs) employed locally would be professionally supervised and quality assured by the National Safeguarding Team.

The Archbishops’ Council committed to finding significant additional financial resource to support the interim support scheme for survivors, which was announced in September, while work begins on a full redress scheme. The NST is in the process of appointing a new staff member to lead on the redress work.

It was agreed that workstreams must be undertaken in consultation with victims, survivors and all relevant Church bodies

The National Safeguarding Steering Group will establish a coordinating subgroup to oversee the work on all six IICSA recommendations and ensure they are implemented swiftly with the particular focus on independence and redress for survivors and victims. The recommendations also focus on CDM reform, information sharing and external audit.

A full background paper on these proposed changes has been published for a presentation and debate at General Synod which meets online from November 23-25 (timetable) with a further detailed response to the recommendations then to be drawn up, published and sent to IICSA.

4 Comments

Opinion – 14 November 2020

See also opinion on Living in Love and Faith here; I’ve been adding to this daily.

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Nourishing and enriching our innate goodness and love

Paul Wilkinson Church Times Threat that is keeping our solicitors busy
“The pandemic has spurred greater numbers to consider leaving their affairs in good order”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Safeguarding Complaint against Archbishop Welby dismissed

Jayne Ozanne PinkNews The Church of England is ‘deaf to the cries’ of the LGBT+ people it is harming. Its recent actions have proven that

13 Comments

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury

The following statement has been issued by Lambeth Palace this morning.

Update on safeguarding complaint against the Archbishop of Canterbury
12/11/2020

The abuse carried out by the late John Smyth was horrific and support continues to be offered to survivors. The Makin review is currently looking at the Church’s handling of allegations about his abuse, including the response of other organisations involved.

A formal complaint made to the National Safeguarding Team, NST, in June, that the Archbishop of Canterbury did not follow correct safeguarding procedure when responding to an allegation against Smyth, has not been substantiated. The complaint referred to Lambeth’s response to allegations which first came to attention in 2013 and information relating to the specific issues raised has been reviewed. Information relating to a further complaint sent to the NST in August, about wider issues, has now also been reviewed and no safeguarding concerns have been identified. All the information reviewed will now be sent to the Makin Review, due to publish next year, for further scrutiny.

Archbishop Justin is deeply sorry for the abuse that was carried out by John Smyth. The Archbishop has committed himself to leading the change needed in the Church of England relating to safeguarding and is personally keen to listen to survivors and striving to keep developing and learning in his own ministry.

Both the reviewers and the Church recognise that giving information to this review has the potential to be re-traumatising for victims and survivors. Support can be offered to victims through the National Safeguarding Team’s survivor engagement worker Emily Denne, who can be contacted at emily.denne@churchofengland.org or do contact Keith Makin, the independent reviewer, direct at keith.makin@independentreviews.live.

52 Comments

Opinion – 11 November 2020

See also opinion on Living in Love and Faith here.

David Brown Surviving Church Leaven. Challenging the Power of Culture in our Church

Brian Castle Church Times Comment: What the Government fails to grasp about public worship
“Theresa May was right to draw attention to the sinister precedent that the lockdown ban on gathering for services sets”

Ian Paul Psephizo Should church buildings close during lockdowns?

3 Comments

Living in Love and Faith – news and opinion

More articles will be added as and when they are published.

News

Church Times LLF: Archbishops apologise for harm caused to LGBTI+ people

Church Times leader comment LLF: it’s out, it’s long, it’s good

Christian Today Church of England publishes landmark resources on sexuality and relationships

Christian Today Evangelicals will ‘engage’ with Church’s sexuality resources but say key issue is ‘obedience’ to Scripture

The Guardian Church of England could rethink stance on LGBTQ+ issues by 2022

Anglican Communion News Service Church of England publishes major teaching resource on identity and sexuality

Premier Church of England outlines plans to tackle sexuality disagreements

Telegraph Church of England could hold historic vote on gay marriage in 2022 (£)

Reuters Church of England leaders apologise for ‘damage and hurt’ to LGBT+ people

Religion Media Centre Living in Love and Faith: ‘What is means to be human’

The Times Church of England to rethink same-sex marriage (£)

Daily Mail Church of England paves the way for same-sex marriages after three years of behind-closed-doors arguments on issue – as Archbishops apologise for ‘damage’ caused to LGBT community

Press Association (at the Daily Mail) Church of England decisions on sexuality and marriage `could be made within two years´
This PA article is also on the websites of a great many local newspapers.

PinkNews Church of England delays decision on same-sex marriage and LGBT+ rights until 2022 despite admitting it ‘continues to hurt’ queer people

The Living Church New C of E Resource for Discernment on Sexuality

Church Times Campaigners welcome Living in Love and Faith resources

Opinion

Helen King sharedconversations Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (1)
Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (2)
Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (3)
Deleted sex scenes from Living in Love and Faith (4)
LLF and IICSA, revisited

Helen King for Modern Church Living in Love and Faith: doing history

Marcus Green
Living in Love and Faith: One – Suddenly Equal?
Living in Love and Faith: Two – Predictably Discriminatory
Living in Love and Faith: Three – Stubbornly Hopeful

Nikki Groarke ViaMedia.News Scripture & Sexuality – Taking Nothing For Granted

Andrew Goddard Fulcrum LLF for Dummies: 10 FAQs about the Church of England’s new teaching and learning resources on identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage

The Church of England Evangelical Council Living in Love and Faith: evangelicals say they are ‘ready to engage and ready to contend’

Student Christian Movement A response to the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ resources

Alex Clare-Young Trans. Christian. Human. LLF: Call, Response, Prayer

Jayne Ozanne

General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group

Prudence Dailey Christian Today First impressions of the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith are very disappointing

David Baker Christian Today ‘Living in Love and Faith’: there may be much to encourage, but there is also every reason to stand firm

Oliver O’Donovan The Living Church Mapping the Terrain for Engagement on Human Sexuality

Colin Coward LLF: it’s long, complex, and fails LGBTI Anglicans

Ozanne Foundation

Andrew Symes Anglican Mainstream Living in Love and Faith: early thoughts

Ian Paul (How) should we engage with Living in Love and Faith?

Christopher Cocksworth Living in Love & Faith – My Journey

Ann Memmott Ann’s Autism Blog Living in Love and Faith – How the CofE failed the autistic LGBT+ people

43 Comments

Living in Love and Faith resources published

Update I have been advised that the Living in Life book is available for download (without registration) from here as a single pdf file.

The Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith resources were published this afternoon, along with a press release (copied below). There is some introductory material at the first link below (Living in Love and Faith), but for most of the resources are in the Living in Love and Faith Learning Hub; to enter this requires registration.

Hard copies of the Living in Love and Faith book are (or will be) available from Church House Publishing or your favourite online bookseller (although none of the three that I tried have it in stock).

You can download the book from within the hub, but it does come in the form of 27 separate files.

Press release

Living in Love and Faith resources published as bishops issue appeal to Church to ‘listen and learn together’
09/11/2020

The Church of England has published a landmark set of resources drawing together the Bible, theology, science and history with powerful real-life stories as it embarks on a new process of discernment and decision-making on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

The product of three years’ work by more than 40 people, led by the Bishop of Coventry, Living in Love and Faith includes a 480-page book, a series of films and podcasts, a course and an online library of other publications, in what is thought to be the most extensive work in this area by any faith group in the world.

It comes as the House of Bishops issues an appeal to the whole Church of England to participate in learning together, using the resources for open, honest and gracious discussion, listening and learning.

A group of bishops, chaired by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, will lead the process of discernment and decision-making about a way forward for the church in relation to human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

It is anticipated that the period of church-wide learning and engagement would take place during 2021. The House of Bishops would then bring the discernment and decision-making to a timely conclusion in 2022 which would then be put before Synod.

In a foreword to the Living in Love and Faith resources, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, acknowledge and apologise for the “huge damage and hurt” that has been caused particularly to LGBTI+ people within the Church.

“At the heart of our failure is the absence of a genuine love for those whom God loves in Christ, knowing as God does every aspect of all of our lives,” they write.

But addressing the future, they add: “Our prayer for the Church through this work is that collectively we demonstrate the same love to one another that we have experienced from God.”

The book opens with an account of how Jesus invited people to sit down together as he fed the 5,000. It notes how Jesus often sat down with people with radically different lives and views.

In their invitation to the church, the bishops say: “Our prayer is that as all of us, the people of God, take time to listen and learn together, our love for one another will be deepened and our faith in Jesus Christ strengthened so that His joy will be made complete in us.”

The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, who oversaw the Living in Love and Faith project, said: “These learning resources are the fruit of an extraordinary collaborative process.

“This has involved intense and prayerful study and reflection as well as listening to as wide a range of voices and experiences as possible.

“Our hope is that through them people will be inspired by the Bible’s glorious and joyful vision of God’s intention for human life.

“Questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage are deeply personal with real life consequences. Engaging with these resources will be enriching and, at different points for different people, deeply challenging and uncomfortable.

“They ask us to examine afresh what it means for Christians to live in love and faith.

“We offer them in the hope that the whole of the Church of England will embrace this opportunity to learn and reflect together across difference for the sake of our unity in Christ.”

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who will lead the ‘Next Steps Group,’ said: “The challenges of the pandemic have underlined how we need each other more than ever.

“At the same time, we can see how deeply divided the Church is over these questions, and we must seek God’s will by learning together, listening to each other and to God.

“We will encourage and support churches to do this in ways appropriate to their local contexts over the coming year, inviting people to reflect on their learning, both as groups and individually.

“This must be a meaningful process with a clear way forward.

“However, it will not succeed without love, grace, kindness and compassion.”

Notes

Register to explore the Living in Love and Faith Learning Hub.

The members of the Next Steps Group are:

  • Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally (chair)
  • Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker
  • Bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain
  • Bishop of Loughborough, Guli Francis-Dehqani
  • Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas
  • Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher
  • Bishop of Ripon, Helen-Ann Hartley
  • Bishop of Sherborne, Karen Gorham
  • Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen
  • Bishop of Warrington, Beverley Mason
  • Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin
  • Bishop of Bradwell, John Perumbalath
30 Comments