Thinking Anglicans

Living in Love and Faith resources – publication postponed

Update  – Helen King writes about the postponement: Stopping: and starting?

The Church of England issued the following press release today.

Living in Love and Faith: update in light of the COVID-19 pandemic
29/04/2020

The House of Bishops has agreed that, in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the publication of the Living in Love and Faith resources, which had been scheduled to take place in June, should be postponed.

In a statement, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, together with the Bishops of Coventry and London, emphasise that work on the Living in Love and Faith resources continues and that the situation will be monitored to discern the most appropriate time for their publication.

The archbishops and bishops also reiterate that the publication of the resources will initiate a process of whole Church engagement, within a clear timeframe, to enable the Church to discern and decide about the way forward for the Church in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

They said:

In recent weeks and months, almost every aspect of our lives – and the life of the whole Church – has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inevitably, that has prompted some serious thought about our plans for the publication of the Living in Love and Faith resources and what we envisaged might come next: a process of church-wide engagement and episcopal discernment and decision making about the way forward for the Church in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

The LLF resources were due to be published at the end of June 2020. However, the Church’s focus is now on ministering to people who are experiencing so many challenges – of bereavement, sickness, isolation, uncertainty about livelihood and fear for what the future holds. That is why we have decided to delay the publication of the resources. We know that there may be real disappointment about this delay, especially for LGBTI+ people, and we are grateful for the continued engagement of so many in the LLF process.

It is important to say, however, that while the publication date has been delayed, Living in Love and Faith has not simply been parked. Far from it: a huge amount of work and prayerful engagement has gone into the resources and we are more hopeful than ever that they will enable the people of God to learn together about human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in the context of our life together in love and faith.

No one can predict how COVID-19 will affect the life of the Church or society over the coming months and years. That is why we will monitor the situation to discern when might be the earliest appropriate time to publish the long-awaited LLF resources and thereby launch the process of whole-church engagement.

The production of the resources continues to be in hand under the leadership of the Bishop of Coventry. We hope that, when the time is right, they will serve the life of the Church. It is likely that the resources will seek to reflect and give due attention to the context in which they will eventually be launched.

As well as the resources themselves we have also been giving prayerful thought to what would come next following their publication. The House of Bishops has agreed that, when that time comes, there will be a process of engagement right across the Church.  This will take place within a clear timeframe under the leadership of the Bishop of London and will enable the Church to discern and decide about the way forward for the Church in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

We will say more on how that might be shaped when our current situation becomes clearer. The Archbishop of York Designate, who will be in post when the resources are published and disseminated, has been consulted about these plans and supports them.

The vision continues to be one of enabling the whole Church to explore the resources together and so to contribute to the Church’s discernment about these matters that affect deeply our life together in love and faith.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of York

The Bishop of Coventry

The Bishop of London

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Kate
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Kate

Yes, the full LLF process should be put on hold.

But once again the communication is dreadful and fails to even acknowledge that many LGBT people are especially vulnerable at present, let alone attempt any ministry to aid them.

Peter Spychal
Guest
Peter Spychal

Clearly the bishops have not heard of working from home.

David Lamming
Guest
David Lamming

This announcement must surely be a precursor to one cancelling the group of sessions of the General Synod in York, scheduled for 10-14 July 2020 (when it was expected that the LLF book would be the subject of a presentation and debate), and the postponement of the Synod elections due to take place in September/October. Formally, this will require an Order in Council pursuant to section 84 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

There was supposed to be a similar session in February, which didn’t happen. I wonder what the excuse was then?

Fr John Harris-White
Guest
Fr John Harris-White

Peter, well spoken. In some cases you wonder if they are working at all. There seems to be a great contrast between those Deans and Bishops who are working their socks off, for example the Dean of Canterbury. The others appear to be in a coma, no names , no pack drill. But they know who they are.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“No one can predict how COVID-19 will affect the life of the Church or society over the coming months and years. That is why we will monitor the situation to discern when might be the earliest appropriate time to publish the long-awaited LLF resources and thereby launch the process of whole-church engagement.” Since we will be affected by Covid directly for at least another year (until there is a widely-available vaccine, a very effective treatment or herd immunity) and then the economic effects will be immense for at least another five years, this is basically “we’ve kicked it into the… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

I see the Bishop of London has been given the task of managing the timely process of engagement with LLF. Am I right in thinking she also had the task of delivering Safe Spaces for survivors on time? I hope that she does rather better with LLF.

Evan McWilliams
Guest
Evan McWilliams

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve got plenty of time right now to read all the materials they might want to publish! 😂

Graeme Buttery
Guest
Graeme Buttery

Dear Evan,
having sat through the whole process in Synod so far there are two words I fear we will not be able to use about LLF when it is finally published: edifying and enlightening

Graeme

Evan McWilliams
Guest
Evan McWilliams

I’m not under any illusions that the materials will be either coherent or edifying but at least publication would signal an end to this phase of the process. At the risk of sounding rather extreme, perhaps the best solution would be admit we can go no further and present the options of 1) accept the current arrangements and stay or 2) demur and go elsewhere in an honest way. Alas, simple honesty has not been a particular hallmark either of this process or of the machinations of the church in general. It would be easy at this point to blame… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

I didnt quite understand some of your post Evan…the problem is very much grassroots? I’m afraid I’m sure we dont know you well enough.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

That’s the second difficult report delayed by reason of the current pandemic. How very convenient. More long grass.

Janet Fife
Guest
Janet Fife

The Whitsey Enquiry was due to report in February but we haven’t heard anything about that, either. Seems to be an awful lot of long grass for the Church to kick things into.

Jayne Ozanne
Guest
Jayne Ozanne

Whilst I understand their logic in saying they need a delay regarding publishing the Living in Love and Faith resource given the need to follow it through with a process of engagement, the communication around this decision is appalling. This statement from the House of Bishops seems to imply that we, LGBT+ people, are somehow in a separate category to those whose lives are being impacted by Covid-19. Indeed, it fails to recognise that we are actually disproportionately impacted by this terrible virus (as confirmed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement on April 17th 2020).… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

“No one can predict how COVID-19 will affect the life of the Church or society over the coming months and years.” No one? I’m willing to make a prediction. Let us say that most dioceses are essentially insolvent, since many were already in straits and are critically dependent upon parish share subventions, which have largely evaporated. So, being insolvent, they have turned to the Commissioners for assistance, and the latter have stumped up £70m. The stipends bill for 2019/20 is £216.7m, which would ordinarily devolve upon the dioceses (absent the cost of bishops and certain capitular clergy). Then there are… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Guest

You’ve said it before, Mr Froghole, and you’re saying it again. Others have opined similarly but with less clarity and background knowledge. I hope you’re wrong, but I suspect you’re in substantial measure spot on. TA contributors, meanwhile, seem more concerned with straining out gnats that may or may not buzz around Holy Communion. R&R approved the funding of more young stipendiary clergy. Perhaps this will have the masses flocking back to mass. Perhaps, like more than a few curates now, they’ll be on the dole. Let’s have another sherry.

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

I should add that it’s my understanding that the £70m is a loan. So this is not Marshall Aid. Let’s say it’s probably more like the recent EU (German) assistance settlement for Italy and Spain. And we know what happened to Greece: endless demands, deferments and additional subventions. Who knows what the repayment terms will be. However, we can be fairly confident that many dioceses will be so prostrate that they will have to liquidate what they can to refund the Commissioners, even if the loan is ‘interest free’. In this context it may be worth noting that the Commissioners’… Read more »

Paul Waddington
Guest
Paul Waddington

The other point that Froghole might have made is that the average age of C of E Church attenders is around 70. In a few years about half of them will have departed this earth or be too feeble to make it to the church door, so plate giving will be in serious decline.

Philip Hobday
Guest
Philip Hobday

Without addressing the other points in this comment, I’m extremely surprised by the suggestion that “stipendiary clergy – many of whom may not be providing their previous value added.” Declaring an interest as a stipendiary cleric myself, I can point to innumerable ways in which ministry teams (lay and ordained, paid and voluntary) are working hard and to great effect. They are continuing to try and help people worship and pray, often involving learning new skills and tools rapidly. They are helping people feel less isolated and vulnerable, especially looking out for those who are most in need; reaching out… Read more »

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

The point you make is a legitimate one; thank you for that and apologies for writing as I did. What I was attempting to argue is that one of the primary purposes of the clerical profession (as opposed to any other form of social work, whether or not from a faith community) is to lead worship and preach. Whilst many parishes are doing this virtually, a good proportion are not yet doing so, based on surveys I have undertaken of several dioceses. Nor, in the current lockdown, can clergy be especially visible in their communities. This all diminishes their effectiveness.… Read more »

Just Saying
Guest
Just Saying

I’m very much afraid that the picture you paint is not far off what is to come as I really don’t see a realistic alternative. At a virtual meeting in our diocese this week an Archdeacon was asked about our financial situation – he did his best to provide an answer but really needn’t have said anything, the anxiety on his face said it all. I’m quite concerned for the welfare of our Senior Staff at this time.

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

@Just Saying and Kate: I agree with your analyses. Essentially, the clergy had been funded by tithe from the outset. This was often highly controversial (not least because much of the income from ‘greater tithes’ on corn went to lay impropriators who were frequently wealthy lay rectors). This was commuted in 1836 and each parish entered into a settlement with its farmers. The burden on agriculture – industry was not similarly burdened – increased following the agricultural slump of the 1870s (consequent to the flood of cheap imported corn from the prairies and steppes). With a renewed slump in the… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

I don’t think the burgeoning ‘senior staff’ in the CofE will be receiving a P45 anytime soon; more likely the long suffering foot soldiers in the parishes. The ‘senior staff’ also have greatly enhanced pensions, the enhancement of which is backdated to the day they were ordained deacon. I personally won’t be shedding any tears for them.

Froghole
Guest
Froghole

Anyway, the point I am making is that the virus has exposed an intractable dilemma: churches or [paid] clergy. Or, to put it another way, should the future of the Church as a genuinely national body be impaired or, indeed, destroyed for the benefit of the recent past and the present? Few but out-and-out barbarians can look on with equanimity if large masses of churches, arguably the most precious part of the architectural patrimony of the nation, are closed permanently and (despite being paid for out of past taxation as well as the contributions of the faithful) privatised, with the… Read more »

ACI
Guest
ACI

The 1905 law of laïcisation changed the landscape in France. The idea of communes being financially responsible for maintenance has, in large measure, truly succeeded. In the region of Essonne where we live there are 26 parishes in our ‘secteur’ some only a few miles from each other. (You can hear angelus in your village and also make out the peeling not far away). The communes are proud of their churches and maintain them — in our village, it is a 12th century church, and that is typical. The deferring of an arrangement akin to this in the CofE —… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

The Church of England has been shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic for years, moving money around in a vainglorious attempt to stop any constituent parts from going bankrupt. Now it has hit an iceberg. Sinking of some parts is inevitable. It is going to be traumatic and very difficult for the individuals who will be affected but the Church of England needs root and branch reform and, at least, this will ensure that happens.

Fr. Dean Henley
Guest
Fr. Dean Henley

Too many priests are deployed in Oxbridge colleges, diocesan offices and in private schools; they should be sent back to the mission fields in the parishes. The other problem is that so many clergy have trained for the priesthood on night school courses and their lack of theology is all too evident. A significant proportion of clergy are not graduates and only a minority of those who are have theology degrees. The CofE is unfortunately reaping what it has sown.

Paul Waddington
Guest
Paul Waddington

I have been expecting this announcement. It has been clear for a long time to me that the great plan was to spin out the publication of LLF until after the next Lambeth Conference. The postponement of the Conference has necessitated an excuse to hold up LLF for a year. That has now happened. Assuming LLF takes a liberal line (which is the only way of passing it through General Synod) publication before the Lambeth Conference would cause dozens of bishops to stay at home, and have the whole event branded as a failure. That would be the last thing… Read more »

Charles K
Guest
Charles K

Actually – I think this is all utterly cynical. Surely – what is most important is a whole-church buy in to the process as much as possible? Now is not the time for that – there is too much going on. We are burying the dead, and dealing with deep communal anxiety about the present and the future. This is not the long grass, but this is a way of enabling the whole church to really engage which this process. I wonder if after a collective time in the wilderness, the experience will help the whole church to engage with… Read more »

Martin Luther King, as told to Interested Observer
Guest
Martin Luther King, as told to Interested Observer

“Now is not the time for that – there is too much going on.” I MUST make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

I completely agree with you Charles K. To speak of a deadly, global pandemic as so much useful long grass for the church to hide awkward business in appals me. But if they had gone ahead and published at this time it is easy to imagine some accusing the ABC of pushing out a tricky report at a time when most would have little time or energy to pay close attention to it. The recent Titus Trust statement was accused of doing exactly that on these threads and at the same the Makin review was criticised for the narrowness of… Read more »

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

I think that the kicking it into the long grass type of comments are unfair. The bishops know that there is no long-term hiding place. I think they also know in the heart of hearts that change will have to come (although what that looks like is a different thing). I do think, like David, that the language is slightly problematic. I also think that the notion that the whole church will need to be involved is a stretch. I should imagine that the very last thing many parishes will want to do is spend time reflecting on and talking… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Andrew Lightbown – ‘They (parishes) made their minds up a long time ago’. I think you mean in an accepting direction – that they are ‘there’ already? Well if that is your story I rejoice. But that is not my general experience working across several dioceses, across varied traditions, at a local level, over a number of years. I think more often the issue has felt too daunting and many clergy have been reluctant to open up a divisive subject. Which is why LLF is important – both content and approach.

Andrew Lightbown
Guest

Hi David. I genuinely, 100%, believe that the parishes in my benefice (modern catholic in the largest, the other two being country churches) will have little or no interest in discussing the project whatsoever. You can for sure rejoice! I think there reaction would be ‘why do you want to open this up?’ Last year there was the possibility of us having a trans curate. (It didn’t happen.) It was the shortest and least controversial of discussions (and I had built myself up for a biggy). They are used to seeing my daughter and her girlfriend. It really, sincerely, isn’t… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

1. The delay in process is (for once) seemly and appropriate at this time – with the huge crisis going on many people just don’t have the emotional energy to participate in this. The time would be better used for reflection about where individual churches want to go with this, when – as is vital – urgent decisions need to be made in 2021. 2. The fundamental problems remain – the Church is divided on the issue of human sexuality. Realistically, no amount of teaching documents is going to change the entrenched convictions people hold at the polarities. 3. Imposing… Read more »

Charles Clapham
Guest
Charles Clapham

I think I’m with Andrew Lightbrown on this one. The notion of “engaging the whole church” now or at any point with LLF materials is fanciful, at least in my parish. Most of my congregation (of all ages) are surprised, shocked or offended when I explain the current official views of the House of Bishops on homosexuality (or indeed sex before marriage) and genuinely can’t believe it – after all, the Bishops seem so nice and reasonable when they come round, it’s difficult to believe that they could really discriminate against gay people, or think that all young people are… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

I think the language is more than slightly problematic. If it had been stated that it might not be possible to do justice to this important issue at this time, with an indication of when the materials will be published, it might have been more convincing. Unfortunately the wording has reminded me of all those who cannot openly mourn dead partners, feel desperately isolated because they never married because they were told it was sinful or who have died without ever accepting themselves because they internalised official church teaching, people locked down with abusively homophobic or transphobic family members or… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Here I stand, I can do no other,” — Martin Luther, attr.

“Whatever the last person said to me, I’ll do that” — Justin Welby, conjectured.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Hmm. Really? I do not regard Justin Welby as easily swayed.
I do, however, think that every Archbishop of Canterbury regards himself (all himselves, thus far) as a quasi-pope, and for this reason pays entirely too much attention to what other provinces would have him do.
Welby may also focus on numbers. Which the province of Nigeria purports to have.

Neil Patterson
Guest
Neil Patterson

Paul, I don’t think that adds up. The original publication date was just before July Synod, before the original Lambeth date (but, admittedly, after bishops had committed to come!) LLF will now definitely be out before Lambeth, but bear in mind that I think we should expect the resources produced to be rather balanced, and to be only the beginning of yet another phase of debate.

Rowland Wateridge
Guest
Rowland Wateridge

I respectfully agree with Charles K and David Runcorn. Paul Hobday’s post points out what clergy have done and are doing. Let’s be grateful to them for a change in some of these posts on TA.

Helen King
Guest
Helen King

Paul, I disagree with your reading of the great plan. The LLF book, at least, was always intended to be out *before* Lambeth – on LLF we were told over and over again that it was to be a ‘gift’ to Lambeth. And as I note in my blog post, now linked to in the original TA post, it seems odd to me that the press release puts the blame on the pastoral load of COVID-19 rather than on COVID-19 meaning there’s no Lambeth this year.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Church of England publishes report on same sex marriage while churches remain locked”

Does anyone seriously want those headlines? Publication had to be delayed.

And co-ordination with Lambeth Conference is an irrelevance. Does anyone seriously believe that it will happen in 2021? We will probably still be talking about virtual Communion.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“Does anyone seriously want those headlines? Publication had to be delayed”

Alternatively, “not even Covid can stop the CofE from forging ahead into the late 20th century”.

Helen King
Guest
Helen King

Will we still be ‘talking about virtual communion’? I was interested today to find out what is happening in Austria, where the lockdown is easing. I quote from the newsletter of the church I attended while briefly living in that country: “Sunday services will resume on Sunday, 17 May at 8.00, 10.00 and 18.00. Numbers at any one service are limited to 26 worshippers. It will be necessary to register for services because of the restrictions in place.
Worshippers will required to wear masks. Sunday 9.00 Zoom services will continue until the end of June if necessary.”

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I used to think the Roman Catholic Church was well behind in the march for progress on the implementation of justice for minorities. However, this latest indefinite postponement of any action in presenting a definitive report on ‘Living Together in Love and Faith’ would seem to deliver the title for Procrastinator of the Decade to the dear old Mother Church of England: “Like a Mighty Tortoise moves the Church of (England) God” God help us all!

Angusian
Guest
Angusian

There is never a good day to bury bad news ! Amazing that the leaders of our church have not yet understood that people are capable of thinking of more than one thing at a time ! With time available in the present climate, it would seem an admirable moment to publish the report; we would have time to consider it, reflect on its inevitable inadequacy and prepare questions for future fora ! With no Lambeth conference to prepare for, even the bishops might get round to studying it !

Susannah Clark
Guest

This seems a very fair point. Now isn’t the time to launch the post-LLF process, but it would by no means be beyond the realms of possibility to publish the documents in their near-finalised state, so that everyone who feels able to can read them over the subsequent 6 months to a year, and pray, and reflect, and ask serious questions about where they hope their local church communities – and ideally the Church of England as a whole – may go with this. In a way, it’s a kind of transparency, affording a wider audience opportunity to participate and… Read more »