New publications in anticipation of tomorrow's debate on the bishops' report
There are two new publications in anticipation of tomorrow’s debate on the Bishops’ report on sexuality.
1. This Open Letter from Open Evangelicals to the Evangelical Group on General Synod has been published today.
On February 2nd 2017 five “open evangelical” members of EGGS (the Evangelical Group on General Synod) wrote to the whole EGGS membership, urging them to reflect and repent on three core issues relating to the “sexuality debate”.
They also asked three key questions which they felt the evangelical community needed to respond to.
Other evangelicals on Synod had also wished to sign the letter, but were unable to as they had not felt able to become members of EGGS due to its hard line on certain issues. It was therefore released for open signature by all evangelicals following the meeting.
The three questions are:
- What is God’s “Good News” for LGBT people?
- How do we respond to the mounting scientific evidence that sexuality is neither chosen nor changeable, and that gender is non-binary?
- How do we deal with the reality of an increasing number of LGBT married couples with children who wish to worship in our churches?
2. OneBodyOneFaith (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement) have published A time to build in which they seek
- For an explicit acceptance of the integrity of theological diversity over matters of sexuality – that it is possible to be Biblically faithful and hold different positions – and the creation of systems to assure that this is honoured. The establishment of a Sexuality and Relationships Working Group which will be responsible for ‘holding’ the theological diversity of the Church of England. Pilling has already described the different positions –the reference group needs to be tasked with exploring how they live with each other, and how the church develops theologically, and how pastoral oversight is given in the context of the range of views present in the Church of England.
- In addition to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group there needs to be a significant level of LGBTI+ representation on each of its boards, councils and divisions for which the Archbishops’ council has oversight – the representatives should be chosen by members of all houses of Synod, not by the Archbishops’ Council or bishops alone
- For the Church of England to appoint a National Lead for LGBTI+ matters based at Church House – LGBTI+ themselves, who works to the Sexuality and Relationships Working Group and liaises with boards, councils, divisions and dioceses, holds to the need for the kind of change that we propose, but also understands and accepts the need to support all sides
- For the publication and recommendation of an official liturgy for the blessing of same-sex couples after a Civil Partnership or Civil Marriage – this does not need to be complicated. The Service of Prayer and Thanksgiving after a civil marriage could be adjusted very simply
- To effect paragraph 13 (a) of Annex 1: Sexuality Issues: what is and is not possible under the relevant legal positions, so that being married to a person of the same sex is not of itself a breach of Canon C26.2