A new document has been published today, signed by the following bishops
The Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker
The Bishop of Horsham, Ruth Bushyager
The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth
The Bishop of Woolwich, Karowei Dorgu
The Bishop of Lancaster, Jill Duff
The Bishop of Rochester, Jonathan Gibbs
The Bishop of Hereford, Richard Jackson
The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcombe [sic]
The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow
The Bishop of Islington, Ric Thorpe
The Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner
The Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson
The Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox
The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, Paul Williams
The full document can be read here.
The paper begins this way:
Since the publication of the Bishops’ LLF Proposal for the consideration of General Synod, a range of lay and ordained people from across the church have asked for some guidance in understanding why many Christians in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, together with Christians from across the churches of world Christianity, continue to believe that marriage is given by God for the union of a man and woman and that it cannot be extended to those who are of the same sex.
We felt, therefore, that it would be constructive to make available a relatively short theological summary of the doctrine of marriage as the Church of England has received it, and how it relates particularly to changes in society around same-sex partnerships. This paper does not seek to repeat what is set out more comprehensively in chapter 3 of the LLF Book but rather to build upon it.
This paper emerged from study and conversations in recent months among a number of bishops, evangelical and catholic. It was helpful not only to us but also to other bishops of the same mind, in clarifying some of our own thinking and prayerful discernment on these important matters as we contributed to the LLF deliberations in the College of Bishops. We now offer the paper below to clergy and congregations at this important time in the life of the Church to inform their understanding, recognising that for some it will be welcome support while for others it may clarify points of disagreement. In offering this paper we are committed to continue to listen and learn from those with whom we disagree.
Few readers of this paper will feel neutral about it. Some will be instinctively grateful for it, while for others it may compound their sense of disappointment. Without seeking to diminish the value of many committed same-sex relationships, for which there is much to give thanks, we find ourselves constrained by what we sincerely believe the Scriptures teach which cannot be set aside. We pray this will be a constructive contribution to the life and ministry of the Church while the work of discernment continues in General Synod and elsewhere.
Spectator Theo Hobson The C of E is right to prevaricate on gay marriage
Church Times Jayne Ozanne Why the Church must decide now on same-sex marriage
ViaMedia.News Neil Patterson Time for the Church to Come Out
St Helen’s Bishopsgate PCC Letter to Bishop of London
Premier Christianity Sean Doherty 8 reasons why the CofE’s same-sex proposals won’t work
College of Deans Living in Love and Faith: College of Deans response
Trevor Thurston-Smith Same Sex Marriage – A Battle for the Soul of the CofE?
Fulcrum Andrew Goddard Last Rites for LLF?27 Comments
GS Misc 1339 Prayers of Love and Faith: a note from the Legal Office has provoked a lot of critical comment on social media.
This further* blog post by Paul Roberts analyses some of the reasons for this:
*see his two earlier articles here.
The Church Times has published a news article: Clergy will bless same-sex couples not their marriage, say church lawyers57 Comments
David Voas British Religion in Numbers Christian decline: How it’s measured and what it means
Ted Harrison Church Times Most kind and gentle death
“Ted Harrison offers a reflection for Candlemas”
Colin Coward has started a new vlog – here is the first episode.34 Comments
The Church of England Evangelical Council has published its formal response to the House of Bishops’ proposals and subsequent public communications. The full text of the response can be found at the link above, and is copied below the fold.
CEEC calls for action and offers the Church of England a better way forward
CEEC is grieved and dismayed by the House of Bishops’ response to Living in Love & Faith, and subsequent public communications, believing them to be contrary to the doctrine and teaching of the Church of England. If pursued, we believe these proposals will create further division and broken fellowship within the Church of England and a greater tearing of the fabric of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
We wish to alert the House of Bishops to the depth, breadth and strength of opposition to their proposals among members of CEEC, which represents lay and ordained, charismatic and conservative and open, egalitarian and complementarian evangelicals. The Council is drawn from numerous networks including Diocesan Evangelical Fellowships, EGGS, The Junia Network, ReNew, New Wine, Living Out, Latimer Trust, JAEC, Fulcrum, Fellowship of Word and Spirit, Crosslinks, CPAS, Count Everyone In, CMS, Christianity Explored, Church Society and evangelical College Principals.75 Comments
Updated Thursday and again Friday
An additional General Synod document has been published today: GS Misc 1339 (Prayers of Love and Faith: a note from the Legal Office).
Update this post from Law & Rellgion UK helpfully brings together on one page the two items on LFF from the Legal Office.
In the House of Commons yesterday, 24 January, Ben Bradshaw asked an Urgent Question to the Second Church Estates Commisioner:
To ask the Second Church Estates Commissioner if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of Church of England bishops on Equal Marriage in the Church of England
Update On Thursday, while answering Questions, he issued this clarification of his earlier remarks:
With you permission, Mr Speaker, following my response to the urgent question on Tuesday, the advice I was given then was by the Church legal office, and I was yesterday asked to make a small clarification. A simple majority in each of the three Houses of the General Synod could suffice to pass a measure and amending canon to change the definition of marriage in ecclesiastical law, but circumstances could also arise in which two-thirds majorities in the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy would be needed, and, as with all authorised forms of service, a two-thirds majority in each House would be required for the approval of the Synod as a form of service for the marriage of a same-sex couple. I apologise, Mr Speaker, but I was only informed yesterday. Given that I was answering questions today, I thought you would find it acceptable that I put that slight clarification on the record.
Christopher Landau has written, at Psephizo, Good disagreement? This isn’t it.
Ruth Harley has written Wrestling for a Blessing in a Time of “Theological Nonsense”.
Church Times news reports:
The full text of the statement from the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches is available here. The Church of England has issued this press release in response: Statement from the Church of England regarding GSFA statement.
Two opinion articles in the Church Times:
The General Synod has an item on Safeguarding scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday 9 February.
Presentation under SO 107
Note: the Business Committee has determined under SO 107(3) that this presentation should include an opportunity for questions.
The Bishop of Rochester to move:
‘That this Synod do take note of this Report.’
There are two synod documents relating to this topic
A group of survivors has also published a briefing for synod members which can be found here. This is something that all synod members should also read.
Martin Sewell has written an article for Surviving Church which discusses this, see General Synod and Safeguarding Issues: Will the problems be faced?
The Church Times has published a detailed report on all this, see Survivors of abuse in the C of E still feel threatened — and so do church staff helping them.
See also a more recent post.7 Comments
There is a video recording of Friday’s press conference to launch the LLF proposals, available here. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishop of London were among those taking part.
St Edmundsbury A message from Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike
Salisbury Ad clerum | Living in Love and Faith
Lincoln Pastoral Letter to the Diocese
Birmingham Living in Love and Faith
Derby Living in Love and Faith
Canterbury (Bp of Dover)
Rochester Next Steps for Living in Love and Faith
Peterborough Living in Love and Faith
More to be added as I discover them. Readers are welcome to submit additional links via the comments.48 Comments
Updated Monday evening
Several organisational responses in support of the statement from the bishops have already been published:
There are also several responses expressing opposition to the statement
Some of these items were issued before the release of the full LFF response on Friday. I will update them if newer statements appear, and I will update this post with additional items as I discover them.62 Comments
The full texts of the proposed Prayers of Love and Faith can be found here.
Paul Roberts has written two blog posts, discussing the concept of blessing, and then analysing these texts, and comparing them with others from the Church of England and the Church in Wales.
…The House of Bishops’ draft of Prayers of Love and Faith that will be laid before the General Synod next month do not contain any prayer or statement in which a priest blesses a same-sex couple. God, however, is petitioned to bless the couple. So, indeed, the bishops have hedged their bets in a way which says “God, we’re not sure you approve of homosexual acts, so if you do, could you bless this couple? But we’re not going be doing it ourselves, just to be on the safe side…”
Bosco Peters Liturgy Ordination Requirements
Rebecca Chapman Church Times General Synod should be more than a talking shop
“Its members need clarity about who is making decisions and what they are voting on”
Meg Munn Chair of the National Safeguarding Panel National Redress Scheme7 Comments
Updated 25 January to add GS Misc 1339 (Prayers of Love and Faith: a note from the Legal Office) – see Monday’s papers.
Updated 5 February to add various notice papers.
The Church of England has published the papers for next month’s meeting of its General Synod, which meets in London from 6-9 February. I have linked to them all below the fold, but these three, in different ways, give an outline of the business.18 Comments
The Church of England issued the following press release this morning.
Draft prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and for God’s blessing for same-sex couples published
Prayers asking for God’s blessing on same-sex couples as they give thanks for their civil marriage or civil partnership are published today.
The draft texts, proposed by the bishops of the Church of England, will be considered by General Synod next month alongside other proposals in response to a six-year process of listening, learning and discernment on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage known as Living in Love and Faith.
The bishops have also made a direct public apology to LGBTQI+ people for the way in which the Church has rejected or excluded them, admitting: “We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong.”
The apology is set out in a pastoral letter from the bishops of the Church of England which also recognises that they disagree over same-sex marriage and proposes a way forward which could be put in action within months.
A report – Living in Love and Faith: A response from the Bishops of the Church of England about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage – sets out the bishops’ proposals and recommends areas for further work.
There is also a book of draft worship resources – Prayers of Love and Faith. It is a range of prayers and readings which could be used in a church service, such as a Service of the Word or a Service within a Celebration of Holy Communion.
There are prayers of thanksgiving and dedication and a prayer for God’s blessing as well as prayers for use with specific elements of a service, such as a Prayer when Rings are Worn and Prayers at the lighting of a candle.
Opening the letter the bishops write: “We want to apologise for the ways in which the Church of England has treated LGBTQI+ people – both those who worship in our churches and those who do not.
“For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry.
“The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for this we repent.
“As we have listened, we have been told time and time again how we have failed LGBTQI+ people.
“We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong. We affirm, publicly and unequivocally, that LGBTQI+ people are welcome and valued: we are all children of God.”
Describing the prayers and readings, they explain: “This resource will offer clergy a variety of flexible ways to affirm and celebrate same-sex couples in church, and will include prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and for God’s blessing.”
They continue: “This resource will represent a significant move that is intended as a loving and celebratory response to same-sex couples who are cherished and deeply valued by the Church.”
They explain that the prayers will be entirely discretionary and that the formal teaching of the Church of England as set out in the canons and authorised liturgies – that Holy Matrimony is between one man and one woman for life – would not change.
“While there is a range of convictions held by the bishops about this important matter, we have not found sufficient consensus to propose a change in doctrine at the present time,” they write.
The bishops’ proposals will be discussed in detail at General Synod which meets at Church House, Westminster, from February 6 to 9.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who chaired the group which led the process of discernment and decision making, said: “We are so grateful to the thousands of people across the Church of England who have taken part in this unique exercise in listening and learning together.
“I would like to thank all those who took part, sharing often deeply personal experiences, with great patience and courage.
“This has shown us vividly the diverse beliefs and hopes that are found among those who call the Church of England their spiritual home.
“We have taken all of those responses to heart and they have been vital in helping shape the proposals which we are putting forward today.”
Synod will debate the Following motion on February 8:
‘That this Synod, recognising the commitment to learning and deep listening to God and to each other of the Living in Love and Faith process, and desiring with God’s help to journey together while acknowledging the different deeply held convictions within the Church:
(a) lament and repent of the failure of the Church to be welcoming to LGBTQI+ people and the harm that LGBTQI+ people have experienced and continue to experience in the life of the Church;
(b) recommit to our shared witness to God’s love for and acceptance of every person by continuing to embed the Pastoral Principles in our life together locally and nationally;
(c) commend the continued learning together enabled by the Living in Love and Faith process and resources in relation to identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage;
(d) welcome the decision of the House of Bishops to replace Issues in Human Sexuality with new pastoral guidance;
(e) welcome the response from the College of Bishops and look forward to the House of Bishops further refining, commending and issuing the Prayers of Love and Faith described in GS 2289 and its Annexes;
(f) invite the House of Bishops to monitor the Church’s use of and response to the Prayers of Love and Faith, once they have been commended and published, and to report back to Synod in five years’ time.’
The Rt Revd Mary Stallard, the Assistant Bishop in Bangor, was elected Bishop of Llandaff by the Electoral College of the Church in Wales today. Details are on the news pages of the provincial website: New Bishop of Llandaff elected.3 Comments
Updated Friday – The press release has been updated so that the first paragraph now reads:
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Andrew Zihni, Canon Precentor of Southwark Cathedral, to be appointed Dean of Gloucester, in succession to The Right Reverend Stephen Lake following his appointment as Bishop of Salisbury.
Appointment of the Dean of Gloucester: 19 January 2023
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Andrew Zihni for election as Dean of Gloucester.
From: Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street
Published 19 January 2023
The King has approved the nomination of The Reverend Canon Andrew Zihni, Canon Precentor of Southwark Cathedral for election as Dean of Gloucester, in succession to The Right Reverend Stephen Lake following his appointment as Bishop of Salisbury.
Andrew was educated at Merton College, Oxford, and trained for ministry at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. He served his title in the Parishes of Goldthorpe and Hickleton in the Diocese of Sheffield and was ordained priest in 2003.
In 2006 Andrew was appointed Minor Canon and School Chaplain, St George’s Chapel Windsor. In 2014 he was appointed Assistant Director of Vocations in the Diocese of Southwark and Honorary Minor Canon of Southwark Cathedral and additionally served as Priest Vicar, Westminster Abbey from 2018.
Andrew took up his current role as Canon Precentor of Southwark Cathedral and Chapter Safeguarding Lead in January 2021.14 Comments
Updated again Thursday
Bishops propose prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and for God’s blessing for same-sex couples
The full text of the press release linked above is also in this PDF document: Prayers of Love and Faith 18.1.23.
There is a second press release here.
The Church Times has some additional information, and quotes from bishops, in this report: Bishops opt for blessings for same-sex couples in church, but not marriage.
And there is a further article reporting reactions to the press releases: Campaigners respond with fear and dismay to Bishops’ proposals to bless same-sex unions.
Two further articles from the Church Times:
The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt, has written to Jonathan Frost, Bishop of Portsmouth, about LLF. You can see her letter in full here. Her tweet summarises:
I have written to the Bishop of Portsmouth in advance of February’s General Synod regarding discussions on how the Church will move forward on the issue of same sex relationships. I hope they will back reform.
The Diocese has replied on Twitter:
Church Times reports further: MPs seek movement from Bishops on same-sex marriage
…The Church Times understands that at least 16 MPs have written to their area or diocesan bishops recommending that the Church change its position on same-sex marriage. This is understood to include the Labour MPs Saron Hodgson, Lilian Greenwood, Nadia Whittome, Alex Norris, Lyn Brown, Kim Leadbetter, Angela Eagle, and Luke Pollard. Neil Coyle, who sits as an independent after his suspension from the Labour Party last year, is also reported to have sent a letter, as has Alicia Kearns, the Conservative MP for Rutland and Melton…
The Church of England issued this press release this morning.
Bishop of Stepney to be new lead safeguarding bishop
The Bishop of Stepney, Joanne Grenfell, is to be the Church of England’s new lead safeguarding bishop, taking over from Bishop Jonathan Gibbs who leaves the role at the end of March, when his three-year term ends.
Bishop Joanne, who will attend the House of Bishops, will work closely with the national director of safeguarding, Alexander Kubeyinje, who took up the role in September. As the Church continues to develop its safeguarding practice, there will be a particular focus on responses to and implementation of the recommendations from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA and the Church’s second Past Cases Review, PCR2, published at the end of 2022.
Bishop Joanne will chair the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG), the delegated House of Bishops body responsible for making national safeguarding decisions, and will work closely with the deputy lead bishops for safeguarding, the Bishop of Bristol, Viv Faull and the Bishop of Birkenhead, Julie Conalty.
Both as a former archdeacon and currently as an area bishop in London Diocese, Bishop Joanne has chaired a number of safeguarding reviews and currently is the diocesan safeguarding lead, working closely with the Bishop of London. Bishop Joanne also chairs the national working group looking at the Seal of the Confessional.
Bishop Joanne said: “I believe that how the Church of England deals with safeguarding is of the utmost importance. It reveals our values and identity as a Church and is therefore a matter of spiritual integrity. I am committed to working for culture change, drawing on the wisdom of survivors and engaging with NST colleagues and leaders across the Church of England. My aim is that together we will not only prevent church-based abuse now, but also deal honestly, thoroughly, and proactively with what has previously been perpetrated and covered up.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I am grateful to Bishop Jonathan who, as lead safeguarding bishop, has led the Church’s response to the IICSA and PCR2 reports, leading on the response both to the recommendations and the important calls for change from survivors. While recognising the safeguarding failures of the Church, Bishop Jonathan has been committed to seeking change in our safeguarding culture and practice.
“I am now very pleased to welcome Bishop Joanne to the role of lead safeguarding bishop. I commend her commitment and experience as well as her willingness to take up this role, which is a vital part of the work of the Church. I am aware of the immense time commitment that this role rightly involves and pray for Bishop Joanne as this new chapter begins.”7 Comments
Stacey Rand ViaMedia.News Leadership for Change: A Response to ‘The Sexism Women Continue to Face in the Church of England’
Rebecca Glover ViaMedia.News Emerging Adults: A Priority for the Churches
Martine Oborne The Guardian Why are female clergy cheering for a bishop who doesn’t believe in female priests?
Rambling Rector Retired Atonement or fakery?46 Comments
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse published its final report on 20 October 2022.
The Church of England’s initial responses were reported here.
Today, the National Safeguarding Steering Group, the House of Bishops and the Archbishops’ Council have published a joint response to recommendations in relation to the safeguarding work of the Church of England. It’s a six-page PDF, available here. The covering press release is over here.
Following the October report publication, there was also a response from the (then new) National Safeguarding Director, reported here.
An earlier report relating to the Seal of the Confessional, was reported in this further roundup of responses.7 Comments