Comments: General Synod members write to College of Bishops

Please could I have clarification of what is meant by "the new relational approach" which the bishops are particularly being asked to adopt and promote?

Is it the same as 'unity in diversity' or what is it?

Does it take things further than the 'listening process' of the Shared Conversations?

Does it include respect and inclusion for those who conscientiously cannot agree with gay sex?

I'm just trying to get some handle on what "the new relational approach" actually means.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 9:55am BST

Which diocese didn't have any who signed?

Posted by Sara MacVane at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 11:06am BST

Simply brilliant. I especially like the call for "consistency" - presumably consistency between dioceses and between parishes. One suspects Dr Sanlon has provoked Synod members to react like this.

What now for the bishops? If they don't come up with a proposal to treat LGBTI people with respect and consistently in all parishes and by all ministers and bishops, then IMO they risk it being said they are failing in their Christian duty to LGBTI people. The letter doesn't say what that proposal has to look like but it is clear that a firm proposal is expected and that parishes should not be allowed to opt out. Real pressure on the bishops now.

Then there's this

"In particular, we are keen that the College of Bishops is unequivocal in its acknowledgement that all, including those who identify as LGBTI, are essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world."

Quite apart from any proposal, any imposition of consistency, if the House of Bishops issues a statement on those terms then I think the conservatives within the Church of England will break away and, if, as suggested, that statement did say that LGBTI people are essential to mission globally then GAFCON nations will pull out of the Anglican Communion.

The letter is seemingly mild and conciliatory but it is truly incendiary. It is simply brilliant. I am truly amazed so many signatories could be gathered for a letter which so clearly calls for a radical change in attitude and which suggests that LGBTI people need to be treated consistently no matter in which parish they worship or in which dioceses they minister.

I am repeating myself. It is brilliant.

Posted by Kate at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 5:16pm BST

Sara McVane at 11:06 "Which diocese didn't have any who signed?"

Coventry, Europe, Sodor & Man and Truro.

Posted by RPNewark at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 9:45pm BST

Peter, what you don't mention, but which I think is highly significant, is that the Revd Dr Rowan Williams is a signatory (York).

Posted by Kate at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 9:54pm BST

"Which diocese didn't have any who signed?"

There are currently 42 dioceses (the Channel Islands, which did provide a signatory, being part of Winchester, sort of). Of the original signatories, there were no representatives of the Diocese in Europe, and the Dioceses of Coventry, Sodor & Man (only two GS representives) and Truro. Additional signatories now include a member from Coventry. In addition to the dioceses, a number of other groupings produced signatories, including the deans and religious communities. Those which did not include the universities and theological training institutions, and forces synodical council. One ex-officio member signed, being an appointed member of the archbishops' council. In summary, the coverage was comprehensive and may be extended further through the facility to add signatories.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 9:59pm BST

Kate - I don't know which Peter you are addressing since neither the original article nor any of the comments so far are by anybody of that name. But it's my name so I'll reply to your comment about Rowan Williams. I do wonder why you find the signature of the Anglican chaplain to the University of York in particular to be highly significant. You couldn't possibly be confusing her with somebody else could you?

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 11:27pm BST

Anthony, the two Channel Island deaneries remain 'annexed' to the Diocese of Winchester, but episcopal care is provided by the Bishop of Dover (technically acting as an assistant bishop on the Diocese of Winchester for these purposes) and the deaneries rely on the Diocese of Canterbury for a number of support services (safeguarding, etc).

Posted by Tim at Thursday, 8 September 2016 at 11:49pm BST

What a wonderful counter response to the former Letter from the enmbattled '72'.

This is a wonderful sign of the effect on the Church of England of Bishop Nicholas being open and honest about his situation of bei9ng in a partnered, loving, same-sex relationship,

I pray that many more of the beneficed clergy will be encouraged to 'come out' of the closet, and admit to their relationships of like kind.
This would enable the house of Bishops to, themselves, avoid hypocrisy and doubt about the holiness of committed monogamous relationship; which are a bless to both the Church and world

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 9 September 2016 at 12:58am BST

Ah yes, so I was!

Posted by Kate at Friday, 9 September 2016 at 6:19am BST

"I'm just trying to get some handle on what "the new relational approach" actually means."

I realise no-one has responded to Susannah's comment. The 'new relational approach' was most recently tried following the failure in November 2012 of the Final Measure on women bishops, although I was not part of that General Synod. However, in Anglican Communion terms it has parallels with the Continuing Indaba process on conflict resolution. Some of the material for the Shared Conversations in York in July noted:

"In the Christian context .... we are not just concerned about winning arguments. We also have to build the Church, the body of Christ, and we cannot do this by using methods that are liable to damage the relationships that define us. It is for these reasons that [this process] advocate[s] the use of dialogue rather than debate to discuss important issues about which we disagree."

'Unity in diversity' is not unhelpful in this context and clearly by definition all views and opinions must be respected and space found for people to hold them in the tent which is the Church of England. How the process will move forward is not yet clear, but what we can be clear on is that no-one will be required to do anything they feel in conscience they cannot or should not do, rather akin to a priest not being required to marry someone during the lifetime of a previous spouse. But that is not of course a license for behaving in an unChristian way towards those you have a problem with. It does not permit pejorative comment about those who identify as LGBT, such as we have seen this week, referring to them as 'those who struggle with same sex attraction', as if this was some kind of condition (sin?) and that their gayness in some way does not define a key part of who they are.

There will be ongoing debate, but the prayer of many is that change will be the result of dialogue rather than parliamentary-style encounter.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Friday, 9 September 2016 at 12:24pm BST

The Channel Island situation remains somewhat mysterious ..any more names added?

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 9 September 2016 at 3:11pm BST

At least one rep from Europe has now signed.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Saturday, 10 September 2016 at 6:18am BST
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