Thinking Anglicans

November General Synod – electronic voting results

The electronic voting results from this month’s General Synod are now available online and are linked below. The texts of items 7 and 500 can be found in the official record of Business Done.

Living in Love and Faith motion (as amended – text here)

Amendments to Living in Love and Faith motion (see Order Paper IV for the texts of the proposed amendments)

Motion to consider Abuse (Redress) Measure for revision in committee

Motion to amend standing orders (see Order Paper IV)


Reactions to General Synod LLF debate

Church Times

Press Release from the General Synod Gender & Sexuality Group and from Inclusive Groups

The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England

Inclusive Evangelicals

Church of England Evangelical Council

Jayne Ozanne

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News The Dam Has Broken: Synod and Beyond


Colin Coward Unadulterated Love Where have we arrived after General Synod?


9 July General Synod discussion on the ISB

David Lamming has written the following article about the synod discussion that occurred on 9 July concerning the Independent Safeguarding Board.
Question 204 from the November General Synod sessions refers (text included below).


General Synod members, and those watching the proceedings on the livestream, will recall the débâcle at York on the Sunday afternoon, 9 July, when, after several attempts to use the standing orders to enable Jasvinder Sanghera and Steve Reeves to respond to the ‘Presentation on developments relating to the Independent Safeguarding Board’ were thwarted, the formal sitting was adjourned so that they could address Synod members, with Robert Hammond (chair of the Business Committee) taking over as chair of the informal session.

One of the thwarted attempts to use Standing Orders to allow Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod concerned SO 120(1), which provides: “The Presidents may invite such persons as they think fit to address the Synod.”  The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said that he was “happy to do that”, though he thought that Meg Munn, who was also present, “ought to be invited to say something as well.”  That said, he added: “I think if people [i.e. Jasvinder and Steve] were able to make a short statement and then perhaps a final response from the panel, I will leave that in your hands, Chair.  I think then we should include this item.” (emphasis added).  He was thwarted, though, as the legal advice given to the Chair (who reported it to Synod with ‘a regret‘) was that it was “unlawful for one of the Presidents and not both to suspend the Standing Orders.”  Leaving aside that Debbie Buggs’s request was to “ask the Archbishop of York in his capacity as President to ask Steve and Jasvinder to address Synod, please,” not to suspend the SOs, it is to be noted that the reason the Archbishop of Canterbury was not present was that he had left Synod to be with his dying mother.



Safeguarding Newsletter for November General Synod

Surviving Church has published this report on the current status of numerous safeguarding matters, few of which are on the agenda for the November synod. The editor of SC writes:

This is a copy of a newsletter written by Martin Sewell which helps a reader to understand at depth the issues on safeguarding that are coming before General Synod this week. Previous newsletters have been shared with synod members. (Ed.)

General Synod Safeguarding Newsletter

I recommend this report for the careful attention of all TA readers.


General Synod – 13-15 November 2023

This post will be updated as the meeting proceeds.

The Church of England’s General Synod is meeting this week. The timetable is here, the agenda is here and the papers are here.

Live video etc

All sessions are streamed live on YouTube and remain available to view afterwards. Links have been provided in advance.

There is an official Twitter account.

Order papers

  • LLF motion as amended
  • This motion was carried in a vote by houses:
    Bishops 23 in favour, 10 against;
    Clergy 100 in favour, 93 against;
    Laity 104 in favour, 100 against.
    There were 4 recorded abstentions by bishops, 1 by clergy and none by laity.

Business done

Official press releases

Press reports and comment

Church Times

The Guardian

BBC News

The Washington Times

The Independent

The Living Church

Members’ blogs

Helen King

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes


Pre-Synod news and opinion

Paul Roberts Inclusive Evangelicals On the use and abuse of the term ‘orthodox’

Mandy Ford ViaMedia.News Polluted Ground or Holy Ground? Going Forward to the November Synod

Church Times General Synod same-sex debate on knife edge


General Synod Questions

The Questions (and answers) for next week’s meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod were issued today. They can be found online here: QUESTIONS Notice Paper November 2023 FINAL.

Questions will be taken in two groups; on Monday from 2.50pm to 4.30pm, any questions relating to Living in Love and Faith matters will be taken first, followed by other questions rotating through the boards and councils as is customary. Questions will resume at 11.45am on Tuesday 14 November until 12.45pm.


Q56 and Q64 have been provided with the wrong answers in the Questions Notice Paper. The correct answers are in Notice Paper 8.


LLF: report of a meeting at Lambeth Palace


Colin Coward has published this report of a meeting on Friday 3 November at Lambeth Palace Library: The Archbishop of Canterbury meets thirty four representatives of progressive organisations

On Friday afternoon, forty one people gathered forming a huge rectangle in the room on the top floor of the Lambeth Palace library. Thirty four were representatives of progressive organisations and networks seeking the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the Church of England.

I think the meeting represents a turning point in the decades-long movement in the Church of England towards achieving the full and equal inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in our church – but although progress may now be made, the future is still very uncertain….

Helen King has published another report of the same meeting: Going to the top: meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury

…When Friday’s meeting was announced, at short notice, I heard from several stakeholders that they weren’t inclined to drag themselves into London yet again for what could well be a pointless meeting. We have bitter experience of being asked at these meetings to react to various scenarios, only for an entirely different scenario to be the one that is decided upon. Eventually they concluded that they may as well go; we’re nothing if not resilient. So, there we were. Again. Only, this time, all in the same room, rather than meeting the LLF team in sub-groups (Evangelical inclusives, Catholic inclusives, etc)…


Open letter from Inclusive Evangelicals

from Inclusive Evangelicals

A letter signed by over 600 evangelicals* in the Church of England has been published today. In advance of the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod (which meets later this month) the letter — published by the recently formed Inclusive Evangelicals — backs the course of action which was approved by the Synod in February 2023. It throws its support behind the full authorisation of Prayers of Love and Faith (including the standalone services) ‘for immediate use’. It also urges the House of Bishops to issue the Pastoral Guidance (which will replace the outdated Issues in Human Sexuality) ‘as a matter of urgency’ in order to enable Church of England ordained ministers to marry, irrespective of the sex of their intended spouse. It rejects calls for structural differentiation to accommodate those who are unwilling to accept the changes proposed in GS2289, including alternative episcopal structures. However, it does affirm and support the need for legal protection for the consciences of individual ministers, whether they choose to use Prayers of Love and Faith, or whether, on grounds of conscience, they choose not to.

Today’s letter marks a significant change in the political landscape for the debate over Living in Love and Faith. The evangelical voice on LLF has been divided since the conservative evangelical Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) amended its basis of faith to stipulate a traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality. This in turn led to a split in the evangelical constituency on General Synod as the Evangelical Group on General Synod (EGGS) made a similar change to its basis of faith, leading to the formation of the Evangelical Forum on General Synod as a place where affirming and non-affirming evangelicals could continue to meet together.

Inclusive Evangelicals was formed in the summer to provide a unifying point for evangelicals who wished to welcome the place of LGBTQIA+ Christians within the full life of the Church. Since that time, the membership of its Facebook Group has grown to almost 1300 members. Its website ( provides resources, stories and a blog to help evangelicals who wish to explore the issue of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in a positive way, from a biblical standpoint.

* If you have difficulty opening the letter PDF, try this link to a local copy: Inclusive Evangelicals LLF Open Letter


44 bishops call for clergy to be allowed same-sex civil marriages

The Church Times reports: Don’t delay guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages, say 44 bishops

A GROUP of 44 bishops made a public statement on Wednesday afternoon expressing their hope that pastoral guidance allowing priests to be in same-sex marriages would be issued “without delay”.

The statement in favour of reform follows three weeks after 12 bishops publicly dissented from a majority decision by the House of Bishops to commend prayers for same-sex couples (News, 20 October).

The new group, 14 diocesan bishops and 30 suffragans, write that they “recognise the complexities of the Pastoral Guidance in relation to ministry, and also the need for a swift end to the current uncertainty for LGBTQIA+ clergy and ordinands…

Do read the whole article. The full text of the statement is copied here below the fold.



Questions on PLF in the House of Commons

Updated Monday

The Church Times reports: Second Commissioner responds to MPs’ questions on Prayers of Love and Faith

The full texts of both questions and answers can be found at They Work For You, starting here. For convenience, the substantive content has been copied below the fold.

Update  This Church Times article also includes information on voting in the House and College, some of which is additional to that in the previous report:

…In September, the College of Bishops voted 72-26 to “recommend to the House that we continue the work on pastoral provision, to extend this to clergy who enter into same-sex marriages”.

They also agreed, by a margin of 81-17, that there should be “no questions around sexual intimacy” put to “clergy in same-sex civil partnerships”.

The House of Bishops also voted in favour of a motion stipulating that the pastoral guidance should remove all barriers to clergy entering same-sex civil marriages, albeit by a narrower margin: 18 votes to 15.

The House agreed, however, by a vote of 23-13, to delay the publication of such pastoral guidance until “further work” had been done — a decision that was announced last Friday, when an update on LLF was published in advance of the next month’s General Synod meeting…



Some voting figures from the House and College of Bishops

Updated Friday

Francis Martin reports in the Church Times:

Bishops’ divisions over same-sex marriage exposed

Read the whole article if you possibly can, but it starts out:

A LARGE majority of C of E bishops support a move towards allowing priests to enter into same-sex marriage, and the immediate adoption of stand-alone services of blessing for same-sex couples, the Church Times can report.

The House of Bishops, however, voted to slow progress on both issues in a meeting earlier this month, in the face of conservative hostility. The outcome has prompted MPs to question the process of episcopal governance…

The report includes the following specific voting figures:

  • Voting records suggest that the House held a vote on whether it was of one mind that the pastoral guidance should permit clergy to be in same-sex civil marriages, and that this was passed by 18 votes to 15 — though the House still voted to delay its publication for “further work”.
  • Voting records seen by the Church Times show that a majority of 75 to 22 at the College of Bishops meeting in September supported a plan to approve the services under Canon B5A, which would have enabled their immediate use as an “experimental” service under the authority of the Archbishops.
    At a meeting on 9 October, however, the House of Bishops opted to take a different route, and instead move straight to the full synodical process outlined in Canon B2. The College of Bishops had expressly voted against this, by a majority of 68 to 28. The decision to reverse this in the House was by a small margin: 19 in favour of the plan to proceed straight to B2, and 16 against.

Update Friday

The leader in the Church Times reports that the College of Bishops voting on the pastoral guidance was  “72 to 26 to work on giving permission for clergy to enter same-sex marriages”.  This leader is also recommended reading.


Reactions to latest LLF proposal

Updated again Wednesday 25 October

These proposals are contained in GS 2328, published last Friday. It is titled:
Living in Love and Faith

The Church Times published this news story the same day: Same-sex provision needs more work, General Synod will be told

Charlie Bell has published A Sum Total of Nothing: The Prayers of Love and Faith Return to Synod

Helen King has written Going to the stake: Living in Love and Faith as Synod approaches

MOSAIC has issued this Statement on the House of Bishops LLF press release and General Synod Motion

Letter to the Second Church Estates Commissioner
This letter from Ben Bradshaw MP and Peter Gibson MP asks seven detailed questions about GS 2328 and the involvement of the House of Bishops in its approval.

Tuesday updates

Richard Moy Chapter Eight: Here Come the Generals
see also other post about his attendance at the GFSA Cairo meeting. He writes in detail about that meeting, and about Nicky Gumbel’s participation in it.

Helen King  Suspicion and fear

Jeremy Pemberton Living in Love and Faith: a whole lot of hot air?

John Sandeman The Church of England’s proposal to half bless same-sex couples

Wednesday updates


Andrew Goddard (via Psephizo) “Another Fine Mess”? A Guide to Where We Are With LLF Pre-General Synod
And there is a longer (18 pages) version here.
Also he draws attention to this item: GS Misc 1359 The Recent Evolution of the Church of England’s Liturgical Procedures and Canons (B1 to B5A)


Pre-General Synod Press Release

The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in London next month, and the usual pre-Synod press release, copied below, was issued today.

Synod meeting to focus on implementation of Prayers of Love and Faith

General Synod papers published for November 2023 Group of Sessions

The General Synod of the Church of England will meet next month in London to discuss the steps being taken to implement texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith, which ask for God’s blessing for same-sex couples.

In February of this year, Synod agreed a motion welcoming the texts and calling on The House of Bishops to further refine and commend them for use in the Church of England, together with new pastoral guidance and proposals for pastoral reassurance.

Earlier this month, The House of Bishops agreed in principle that the Prayers of Love and Faith should be commended for use, also concluding that special services for same-sex couples, based on the Prayers, should go forward for consideration to be formally authorised under canon law. Synod also voted for no change to the doctrine of the Church of England around marriage and sexual intimacy.

In November, Synod members will be presented with the work that the House of Bishops has carried out on the Prayers of Love and Faith since February. They will also have the opportunity to discuss the draft pastoral guidance, specifically supporting the Prayers, which has been shared for the first time.

The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, who has co-chaired the Living in Love and Faith steering group, said: “This twin-track approach means that prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples will be available for use in church very soon, as Synod has asked. A means of offering special, standalone services for same-sex couples will go forward to be considered for formal authorisation at a later stage.

“While we do not all agree about questions of marriage and sexual intimacy, a long period of discernment has shown that a majority of people would like to see a change in the Church of England’s approach to same-sex relationships. Based on what the Church has told us, no change is not an option.

“There are those who would like to see us go much further, and those who believe we are going too far. Yet we have expressed our heartfelt wish to remain together as one Church. The pastoral provision must protect and value both those who struggle so much with this that they need reassurance, and those who wish to place same-sex relationships before God in prayer.

“In other words, it will be ‘both and’, not ‘either or’. We are implementing what Synod asked us to, prayerfully and with the hope of God’s Grace.”

Papers for the November 2023 Group of Sessions were published and sent to members today.

Synod will consider and vote on the first consideration of the draft Redress Measure which makes legal provision for the creation of a national redress scheme for victims and survivors of Church-related abuse. This delivers on the commitment made by the Church in its response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The draft Measure lays the groundwork to deliver a Scheme which offers redress in a range of forms including apology, acknowledgement, therapeutic, and financial support to survivors of abuse perpetrated by a person acting under the authority of the Church of England. It makes provision for a single ‘redress body’ to deliver the Scheme and also makes provision for the financing and includes further details of the Scheme’s operation.

The Bishop of Winchester, Philip Mounstephen, chair of the Redress Project Board, will introduce the draft Measure and take questions from members.

The Measure is expected to return to the Synod for the Revision Stage in July 2024 followed by the Final Drafting and Final Approval stages.

More information

Read the Papers and find out more about the November General Synod meeting


November General Synod – Agenda and Papers

The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in London from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 November. The agenda (GS 2322) and papers were released today. The report of the Business Committee (GS 2323) includes a guide to the group of sessions.

The papers can be downloaded as two zipped files, and there are links to individual papers below the fold.

The main business of this group of sessions will Living in Love and Faith; the supporting paper is GS 2328 Living in Love and Faith: Setting out the progress made and work still to do. There will be an informal session on Monday afternoon, and then on Tuesday afternoon the Bishop of London will move:

‘That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides feel pain at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, and encourage the House to continue its work of implementation.’

Approximately nine hours have allocated to the debate, spread over Tuesday afternoon and most of Wednesday.



General Synod – Report of Proceedings July 2023

The General Synod Report of Proceedings July 2023 is now available.

In addition to the usual verbatim transcript of the proceedings, there is an appendix containing several supplementary questions with answers that were provided after the meeting. These include

  • the Serious Incident Report submitted to the Charity Commission on 26 June and the closing letter received from the Charity Commission on 3 August (Questions 8 & 9),
  • an explanation of why and how Martin Sewell’s Questions got changed without him knowing (Questions 40-41).

12 bishops dissent from Monday’s statement by the House of Bishops

Premier Christianity has published the full text of a statement by bishops who are publicly dissenting from the statement issued by the House of Bishops on Monday. This is copied in full below the fold. For reactions to this letter, see the preceding TA article. (more…)


Reactions to House of Bishops announcement

Last updated Wednesday 18 October

Church Times Prayers of Love and Faith to be commended by Bishops, but use is restricted till Synod approves

Church of England Evangelical Council CEEC responds to House of Bishops’ announcement

Church Society Ros Clarke Who wants the Prayers of Love and Faith anyway?


Anglican Network in Europe Not Fit for Office

Premier Christian News  Same-sex attracted CofE leader laments ‘painful ambiguity’ as bishops commend prayer blessings

Andrew Goddard Psephizo Prayers of Love and Faith: what has the House of Bishops done?
This article contains a very detailed analysis of what the statement may mean. Worth reading in full.

See also next TA article about 12 bishops who dissent from the announcement.

Anglican Futures Caution: The Travelator Continues…

Further statement from CEEC responding to the 12 bishops: CEEC welcomes bishops’ dissenting statement

Some bishops have now issued individual statements:

Please do report any other letters, or more direct links for these ones, via the Comments.

Update Tuesday 17 October
has issued an e-bulletin to its supporters: page one and page two
(reproduced here as PDFs)

Update Wednesday 18 October
Church Society
has published What are the Prayers of Love and Faith and why do they matter? which links to this PDF.
And there is also this: Editorial: Good Lord!


Prayers of Love and Faith: Bishops agree next steps to bring to Synod

Press release

Prayers of Love and Faith: Bishops agree next steps to bring to Synod

House of Bishops agrees to commend Prayers of Love and Faith

The Church of England’s House of Bishops has agreed in principle that prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples – known as Prayers of Love and Faith – should be commended for use.

The House, which met in London, also concluded that structures for special services for same-sex couples, based on Prayers of Love and Faith, should go forward to be formally authorised under canon law.

The bishops will bring proposals to General Synod next month which will pave the way for a process that would lead to the authorisation of these special services under Canon B2.

This process, expected to take until 2025, would involve consultation with every diocese and require approval by General Synod.

Bishops gave serious consideration to an alternative legal process which could have enabled special services to be authorised almost immediately – but temporarily – (under Canon B5A). This would still have required a further process for the services to be authorised permanently (under Canon B2) by Synod.

New draft pastoral guidance will be brought to next month’s meeting of Synod, setting out how the system could operate. Further work is already in progress on the second part of the Pastoral Guidance which will look at matters in the life and work of clergy and lay ministers.

Proposals for the Prayers of Love and Faith were discussed in an historic debate at the General Synod in February of this year. Synod called on the bishops to work on Pastoral Guidance and other arrangements needed to implement that decision.

The proposals will be discussed in detail at a meeting of General Synod in London on November 13 to 15.

At today’s meeting the bishops agreed that:

  • The prayers and readings in Prayers of Love and Faith for use with same-sex couples will be commended by the House of Bishops for use in public worship.
  • Special standalone services set out in Prayers of Love and Faith should be brought to the General Synod to decide whether to authorise them under Canon B2, after consultation with dioceses.
  • There is also further work under way to explore further forms of pastoral reassurance and formal structural pastoral provision to ensure the conscience of everyone is respected.

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who co-chaired the steering group which has brought the proposals forward, said: “The House of Bishops’ decisions today continue to implement Synod’s vote to recognise publicly the commitment of same-sex couples and to pray God’s blessing for them.

“They have agreed to commend Prayers of Love and Faith and also considered the best way to authorise special standalone services. Having carefully considering the legal, theological and pastoral implications of possible approaches, the bishops concluded that it would ultimately be clearer to proceed directly to consideration under Canon B2.

“We acknowledge that there are some who would like this process to move faster, however the move to full authorisation will provide clarity and wide consultation ahead of a final decision by synod in 2025.

“I know that for some, these measures go too far and, for others, not nearly far enough and the bishops discussed the need for pastoral reassurance, and for some the need for formal structural pastoral provision.

“But the heart of the gospel is reconciliation – our desire is to remain together as one Church in our uncertainty, finding ways to live well with our different perspectives and convictions.”

The meeting included times of prayer and worship, with prayers said for crises around the world including the situations in Israel and Gaza, and in Afghanistan.


November General Synod – outline of business

The Church of England’s General Synod will meet in London from 13 to 15 November 2023. The Outline of Business has been published and is copied below the fold.