On Saturday morning at York, the General Synod will have a “Presentation from the House of Bishops on the Proposals for the Pastoral Advisory Group on Human Sexuality and the development of the Teaching Document.”
Note that this is not a debate, but a Presentation followed by a Question and Answer session. The relevant background document is GS Misc 1158 Next Steps on Human Sexuality. One hour has been allocated for this item.
The Proposals for the Pastoral Advisory Group (note the title change from Pastoral Oversight group) are quite brief, and are copied in full below the fold. About this aspect, para 3 of GS Misc 1158 says:
..in our letter of 16th February we committed ourselves, and the whole House of Bishops, to two actions. The first of these was the creation of a group, chaired by the Bishop of Newcastle, to advise dioceses on pastoral issues concerning human sexuality so that we can make explicit our commitment to show the love of Christ to all people, regardless of sexual or gender identity. Good progress has been made in establishing the new Pastoral Advisory Group, as reported below, which is now embarking on its work.
All the rest of the document is concerned with the development of the Teaching Document, and that will be covered here in a separate article, to follow shortly. This will enable discussion in the Comments below to focus specifically on the Pastoral Advisory group proposal.
Pastoral Advisory Group
1. As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.
Archbishops’ letter, February 16th 2017
2. Supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions, i.e. engagement, inclusion, and pastoral care, with regard to the current pastoral approach of the Church to human sexuality, with a particular (but not exclusive) focus on same-sex couples.
3. Reviewing, and as needed revising, advice provided by the House of Bishops on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples in Church of England congregations, such ministry being understood to include prayer offered by clergy and licensed lay minsters.
4. Offering advice when requested to bishops regarding specific cases they are dealing with in the areas of both pastoral care and discipline involving clergy in same-sex relationships, and clergy responding to lay people in same-sex relationships, to assist the sharing of knowledge and an appropriate level of national consistency in approach.
5. Supporting the Church of England’s communication of its approach to this area in the media and in other public fora.
6. Exploring together, and hearing from others, what radical Christian Inclusion, ‘founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it.’ [From the Archbishops’ Letter, 16th February 2017] means in the life and mission of the Church: sharing and disseminating examples of good practice in terms of pastoral care of and engagement with those who identify as LGBTI.
7. To bring draft advice on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples in Church of England congregations for initial consideration by the House of Bishops, having reflected on how pastoral practices might develop within current teaching.
8. To review the advice provided in due course in the light of the emerging teaching document.
Way of working
9. Requests from other bishops for advice on named cases with regard to area of responsibility (2) above will need to be dealt with as reserved business by the bishops within the group. The bishops will however report to other group members that such reserved business has been discussed and will review with them any general issues arising from the review of particular cases.
10.The advice on pastoral ministry to same-sex couples will need to be undertaken in careful liaison with work on the teaching document (as set out below). It is therefore difficult to give a precise timescale for the groups work.
11.Members will be appointed initially to serve on the group until the end of 2019.
Chair: The Bishop of Newcastle, The Rt Revd Christine Hardman
Other Episcopal Members: The Bishop of Willesden, The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent
The Bishop of Grantham, The Rt Revd Dr Nicholas Chamberlain
The Bishop of Exeter, The Rt Revd Robert Atwell
The Bishop of Repton, The Rt Revd Jan McFarlane
Members: The Revd Sam Allberry
Dr Jamie Harrison
The Ven Cherry Vann
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Staff support: The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown
The Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen
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