The following press release has been issued. The letter to which it refers is copied below the fold.
For the full list of signatures follow this link.
GENERAL SYNOD MEMBERS URGE BISHOPS TO SEND A POSITIVE MESSAGE TO LGBTI CHRISTIANS.
Over 130 lay and clergy members of Synod from across the Church of England’s traditions have signed an open letter to the College of Bishops urging that the Church is “unequivocal in its acknowledgement” that LGBTI Christians are essential to the health and future of our Church.
The letter has been made public just before the Church of England’s meeting of the College of Bishops following the completion of the Shared Conversations process in July. It comes after an earlier letter from 72 conservatives expressing concern over the discussion of any new proposals, which they stated would lead to a fracture within the Church of England.
Organised by four influential Synod members – Jayne Ozanne, the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, the Very Revd Dr David Ison and Tim Hind – the letter has succeeded in uniting members from across the various Church traditions and from 38 of the 42 dioceses within the Church of England.
Echoing sentiments made by many signatories, long standing synod member John Mason said:
“I am not normally enthusiastic about letters of this type, but I am in complete agreement with publication of this one. I wholeheartedly approve of it both because of the need for a response (to the conservatives’ letter) and because of its particularly inclusive and affirming content.”
The letter recognises the importance of the Shared Conversations, and its role in helping people understand “the common reverence we (synod members) hold for the Word of God as well as the differing ways in which we have come to understand and interpret it. We believe this has formed deeper understanding, trust and respect between those with whom we have differing views.”
Importantly it called for a new “relational approach” to how the Synod engages in such difficult topics, and urged the Bishops to move forward “with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod”. This will be aided by the fact that there is now one openly gay and partnered member of the College of Bishops, the Rt Revd Nicholas Chamberlain.
Jayne Ozanne said the level of support was very encouraging, and an important signal to the bishops of the broad support that exists amongst Synod members:
“The response to the letter has been overwhelming, – it definitely seems that the tide is now finally turning. From conversations I have had it would appear that many synod members were deeply challenged and moved by the discussions in July, and it seems that there is a growing consensus for the Church to take active steps towards ensuring it is welcoming and inclusive of all.”
The Revd Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of the Human Sexuality Group in Synod and the other lead co-ordinator, said that the breadth of support was important:
“The broad consensus across the church traditions is extremely encouraging. We hope it will help the C of E to find ways to heal the deep level of pain felt by many of us within the LGBTI community, by becoming genuinely welcoming and affirming.”
The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, was clear that the status quo is not an option:
“I believe that there’s a growing consciousness across the Church that our response to lay and ordained LGBTI Christians cannot stay as it is. We need far greater honesty and transparency with one another, and to ensure that all LGBTI people are welcomed and affirmed by a Church called to share the redeeming love of Christ with all.”
Other synod members who would like to sign the letter are being encouraged to do so in retrospect by adding their signature at www.synodletter.wordpress.com.
For more information please contact Jayne Ozanne at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The 131 signatories include:
– 69 members of the House of Clergy – including 3 Deans and 8 Archdeacons
– 62 members of the House of Laity
– 70 women
– 61 men
– Representatives from 38 of the 42 dioceses
2. A further 7 synod members indicated that they would have liked to have signed the letter but felt unable to do so as they had not participated in any of the Shared Conversations.
3. 72 conservatives sent an open letter to the College of Bishops on August 11th 2016.
4. A full list of Synod members is available here.
To All Members of the College of Bishops
We write as Members from across the full breadth of General Synod to thank and congratulate you for what we feel were a significant few days within the life of the Synod last July. Whilst the Shared Conversations were difficult, and at times very painful, we are grateful for the care and thought that had gone into creating as safe a space as possible for differing views to be aired, and experiences listened to.
We are particularly grateful for the way that we were encouraged to engage in Scripture together. This enabled us to appreciate the common reverence we hold for the Word of God as well as the differing ways in which we have come to understand and interpret it. We believe this has formed deeper understanding, trust and respect between those with whom we have differing views.
We now look to you and your colleagues within the College of Bishops to help lead us forward.
We hope that this will be with the sense of urgency and sensitivity that so many of us expressed within Synod. In particular, we pray it will continue to develop the new “relational approach” that has enabled us to bridge our sometimes unhelpful “tribal divides”.
Whilst not wishing to pre-empt the work of the College of Bishops, we would ask that the steps that are proposed create greater clarity and consistency in our approach to this complex issue. 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.
We wish you to be assured of our prayers, and know that we are fully committed to the process of encouraging greater inclusion across the Church of England for all.
Please let us know how we might best support you in this important work,
Yours in Christ