Thinking Anglicans

Living in Love and Faith resources published

Update I have been advised that the Living in Life book is available for download (without registration) from here as a single pdf file.

The Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith resources were published this afternoon, along with a press release (copied below). There is some introductory material at the first link below (Living in Love and Faith), but for most of the resources are in the Living in Love and Faith Learning Hub; to enter this requires registration.

Hard copies of the Living in Love and Faith book are (or will be) available from Church House Publishing or your favourite online bookseller (although none of the three that I tried have it in stock).

You can download the book from within the hub, but it does come in the form of 27 separate files.

Press release

Living in Love and Faith resources published as bishops issue appeal to Church to ‘listen and learn together’
09/11/2020

The Church of England has published a landmark set of resources drawing together the Bible, theology, science and history with powerful real-life stories as it embarks on a new process of discernment and decision-making on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

The product of three years’ work by more than 40 people, led by the Bishop of Coventry, Living in Love and Faith includes a 480-page book, a series of films and podcasts, a course and an online library of other publications, in what is thought to be the most extensive work in this area by any faith group in the world.

It comes as the House of Bishops issues an appeal to the whole Church of England to participate in learning together, using the resources for open, honest and gracious discussion, listening and learning.

A group of bishops, chaired by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, will lead the process of discernment and decision-making about a way forward for the church in relation to human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

It is anticipated that the period of church-wide learning and engagement would take place during 2021. The House of Bishops would then bring the discernment and decision-making to a timely conclusion in 2022 which would then be put before Synod.

In a foreword to the Living in Love and Faith resources, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, acknowledge and apologise for the “huge damage and hurt” that has been caused particularly to LGBTI+ people within the Church.

“At the heart of our failure is the absence of a genuine love for those whom God loves in Christ, knowing as God does every aspect of all of our lives,” they write.

But addressing the future, they add: “Our prayer for the Church through this work is that collectively we demonstrate the same love to one another that we have experienced from God.”

The book opens with an account of how Jesus invited people to sit down together as he fed the 5,000. It notes how Jesus often sat down with people with radically different lives and views.

In their invitation to the church, the bishops say: “Our prayer is that as all of us, the people of God, take time to listen and learn together, our love for one another will be deepened and our faith in Jesus Christ strengthened so that His joy will be made complete in us.”

The Bishop of Coventry, Christopher Cocksworth, who oversaw the Living in Love and Faith project, said: “These learning resources are the fruit of an extraordinary collaborative process.

“This has involved intense and prayerful study and reflection as well as listening to as wide a range of voices and experiences as possible.

“Our hope is that through them people will be inspired by the Bible’s glorious and joyful vision of God’s intention for human life.

“Questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage are deeply personal with real life consequences. Engaging with these resources will be enriching and, at different points for different people, deeply challenging and uncomfortable.

“They ask us to examine afresh what it means for Christians to live in love and faith.

“We offer them in the hope that the whole of the Church of England will embrace this opportunity to learn and reflect together across difference for the sake of our unity in Christ.”

The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, who will lead the ‘Next Steps Group,’ said: “The challenges of the pandemic have underlined how we need each other more than ever.

“At the same time, we can see how deeply divided the Church is over these questions, and we must seek God’s will by learning together, listening to each other and to God.

“We will encourage and support churches to do this in ways appropriate to their local contexts over the coming year, inviting people to reflect on their learning, both as groups and individually.

“This must be a meaningful process with a clear way forward.

“However, it will not succeed without love, grace, kindness and compassion.”

Notes

Register to explore the Living in Love and Faith Learning Hub.

The members of the Next Steps Group are:

  • Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally (chair)
  • Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker
  • Bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain
  • Bishop of Loughborough, Guli Francis-Dehqani
  • Bishop of Maidstone, Rod Thomas
  • Bishop of Norwich, Graham Usher
  • Bishop of Ripon, Helen-Ann Hartley
  • Bishop of Sherborne, Karen Gorham
  • Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen
  • Bishop of Warrington, Beverley Mason
  • Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin
  • Bishop of Bradwell, John Perumbalath
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Kate
Kate
14 days ago

I will be very interested to read comments here and longer articles elsewhere. My immediate impression is that this is a document intended to benefit the church (ie the Church of England) rather than LGBTI+ people. That is evident in the structure of the document which starts by stating the traditional teaching of the Church of England and repeatedly defends it. The views of LGBTI+ are more diffidently expressed as opinions. Completely missing is anything on how the church will accommodate the needs of LGBTI+ people. It’s an inherently biased document but what is especially sad is that I think… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Kate
Rchard Ashby
Rchard Ashby
14 days ago
Reply to  Kate

You’re absolutely right on this, Kate. The document is designed to get the bishops off the hook on which they have impaled themselves in their desperation to avoid schism and the consequent departure of the Conservative Evangelicals, especially as they would take their money with them. The problem is that this is a completely unrealistic ambition as exemplified by the immediate response of the Bishop of Blackburn. For this constituency change is not an option and it would undermine their assumption of their own infallibility. This document has nothing to do with lgbt+ people and everything with the management of… Read more »

Just Sayin'
Just Sayin'
14 days ago

For myself, I have absolutely no intention of engaging with this nonsense or inflicting it on congregations that are quite settled on the issue and have been for years. Don’t tell their Graces in case they take fright but the horse left the stable a long time ago. It’s just a shame that the House of Bishops cannot, or will not, understand that their constant prevarication over this has led them to be seen as irrelevant by many Christians and certainly the wider society in which we live. As has been said, those who matter don’t care, and those who… Read more »

Robert Ellis
Robert Ellis
14 days ago
Reply to  Just Sayin'

My thoughts entirely. We are short of backbones.

Stanley Monkhouse
14 days ago

“Our strong hope is that … everyone who looks to the Church of England as their spiritual home – will engage with this book and its accompanying resources … together with those who have different perspectives and lived experiences.” FOUR HUNDED AND EIGHTY TWO pages. I can’t see Margaret and Pete, Olive and Tom, or Dave, or Chris and Pam from the flower rota engaging. Who’s it for? Speaking personally, I don’t see the Bible having ANY coherent teaching on marriage, though in the Song there’s a fair bit about delight.

Fr Andrew Welsby
Fr Andrew Welsby
13 days ago

Totally agree, Stanley (and with Just Sayin’) To 99.9999% of the Christians I know, it’s just an (expensive – but hey, we’re rolling in money) monumental irrelevance.

Charles Clapham
14 days ago

First very quick observation on LLF (many thanks to Thinking Anglicans for the link to the full PDF file) based on five minutes scan! The very short section on the ‘science’ of sexual orientation is all concerned with trying to explain why some people are gay – the implicit assumption is that ‘heterosexuality’ is normal and requires no explanation. Likewise on gender identity – cisgender is assumed, trans is what needs ‘scientific explanation’. These few pages alone are probably reason enough for me (and other supporters of LGBTQI people) to ignore the rest of the report!

Last edited 14 days ago by Charles Clapham
Fr Andrew
Fr Andrew
14 days ago

Bang on the money Charles: the approach to science evinced in LLF is entirely heteronormative; LGBT people are something to be explained, (though to be fair this is implicit in the fact that scientists have sought to research the aetiology of homosexuality [not heterosexuality] in the first place). There is a lot of text in LLF: it does look like they’re trying to avoid stating the obvious- pretending we’re discussing human sexuality which is really a fig leaf for yet again debating homosexuality. The sheer volume of this work is trying to cover up the fact that it’s designed yet… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Fr Andrew
Charles Clapham
14 days ago

With a heavy heart, I’ve now forced myself to read (albeit quickly) through the Living in Love and Faith report in its entirety. It is lengthy, rambling and rather repetitious. I’m not sure it adds anything new or useful to contemporary debate, and despite its length, in crucial disputed areas (e.g. science, sociology, biblical interpretation), its treatment is extremely short and superficial, to say the least. It is remarkable how the discussion of the bible, for example, makes virtually no reference to any of the considerable recent LBGTQI scholarship on these issues, nor indeed to any biblical scholarship at all.… Read more »

Last edited 14 days ago by Charles Clapham
Claire Jenkins
Claire Jenkins
14 days ago

Tolstoy’s war and Peace comes to mind, length and culture wars. As a former Anglican and trans researcher looking at the experiences of trans children in schools I was disappointed to find very little.

Rob T
Rob T
14 days ago

I must agree with other commenter that this is definitely to benefit the church. Having skimmed the document last night, I don’t think I have ever seen anything that took so long to say so little. It is disappointing that the “Encounters” seem to be pushing in one direction. There seem to be very few encounters of LGBTI+ living fulfilling lives true to themselves. Most seem to embrace celibacy as the only way. There are a couple of accepting priests, which is good, but in general, I don’t see anything that reflects my life as a man married to another… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
13 days ago
Reply to  Rob T

I am not so sure. I think the Encounters starting at page 261 are telling. Will, a celibate homosexual leading a life in line with church teaching – and suffering from mental health issues and suicidal thoughts (three unsuccessful attempts so far). And then Sophie and Austen who chose their own path of partnered faithful Christian life and are settled and happy. And we have Sophie’s quote “At the school my children go to, there are more families who have same-sex parents than there are families who go to church regularly. So, for my daughter, having lesbian mothers is not… Read more »

Rob T
Rob T
13 days ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

The encounters are telling, but I think my comment about living fulfilling lives stands. Will is clearly not fulfilled in his life and Austin’s story tells of the reason for that lack of fulfilment in not being true to yourself. There are some very important quotes in that section of Encounters and the one that is really going to cause the Church problems is the last one from Mia “This [latest] generation has grown up with different sexualities and the idea that people are fluid. If people in church can’t get their head around it, it puts them off church.… Read more »

Mike Crees
Mike Crees
13 days ago

I am looking forward to reading this long awaited publication. At a simple level of course it is a very old set of arguments. Do we follow scripture even when socially and culturally unpopular and difficult or not. I suspect the can is being kicked down the road yet again. The trouble is while we seek to disagree well, and hear everyone out, even the comments on this site show that there is a relentless campaign to pressure the church into future change regardless of the conscience of others. A house divided cannot stand. Perhaps there needs to be a… Read more »

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
13 days ago
Reply to  Mike Crees

You seem to be assuming that scripture can be read only one way on matters of sexuality, and that is clearly not the case. There are people of every viewpoint who ‘follow scripture’. There is no possibility of agreeing well and listening well, when some parties believe they’re the only ones who take the Bible seriously and have ‘God given [sic] authority’.

Kate
Kate
13 days ago
Reply to  Janet Fife

I would go further, Janet. I suspect most of us on Judgement Day will be told that our understanding of Scripture in some, probably many, regards is wrong. I am certain that I will be, despite my best efforts. I believe that where there are a range of possible interpretations we should as a matter of course err towards the one which is loving and builds people up, rather than those interpretations which cause people to suffer. It is sad that LLF doesn’t recognise that – but as we keep saying reducing suffering doesn’t seem to be a particular goal… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
13 days ago

When I visit Scarborough and go down Staxton Hill there is a sandpit at the bottom for cars careering out of control to swerve into. The CofE is going downhill hill at an alarming rate but I’ve no doubt the Bishop of London’s steering group will steer this project into the sand before it reaches its destination. How fortunate to have an out gay bishop on board this charabanc.

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
13 days ago

As far as the Next Steps Group is concerned, I am left asking ‘Who are the theologians in the room’?

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
11 days ago
Reply to  Bill Broadhead

Well, I think the Next Steps Group (with its composition) is actually a bright spot in all this stuff, but I don’t want to comment further at this stage. The Group surely has no need for more ‘theologians’. The theology on this has been done to death and can be very binary. I am still hearing some evangelicals say ‘the Bible is crystal clear on this.’ Quite why they then think we are in this process I can’t fathom! What is needed is some clear sighted ecclesiological thinking.

Jenny Humphreys
Jenny Humphreys
13 days ago

Speaking as a General Synod member, I find it frankly bizarre that we have not been given any direct information about the publication of LLF, especially as it came about following the refusal of Synod to ‘take note’ of the bishops’ proposals in February 2017. If it were not for Thinking Anglicans and my Facebook feed I would not have known that it had been released. I would have expected an emailed notification with the relevant links to the information at the very least, and a printed copy of the report for preference. Maybe there will be something before Synod… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
13 days ago

Jenny,

I take your point about a heads up, although the publication date was released a while ago. Getting access to the resources ahead of time might have been nice.

The thing is that it is not on the Synod agenda, nor will be for a while. We are now to enter a period of debate etc using LLF as a resource so that we are well informed and understanding when it does come to Synod in some form or other.

Graeme Buttery

Helen King
Helen King
13 days ago

Jenny, you speak as a GS member. I speak as one of the ’40 people’ always mentioned as those who contributed to LLF, and while I was told on 22 September that the launch would be on 9 November, there was then complete silence until the middle of the day itself as to what this really meant. We were also told on 22 September that the date ‘has been subject to the availability of the two archbishops (remotely)’ but then neither of them took part. Communication doesn’t seem to be their strong point.

David Lamming
David Lamming
13 days ago

Jenny, my understanding is that a copy of the book is being posted to every member of General Synod and, with the Church House post room effectively closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, this is being done on behalf of the Church by the publishers of the Church Times. And in answer to Graeme Buttery, while LLF is not on the Synod agenda for debate in two weeks’ time, item 2 (Presidential Address) on the Monday afternoon, 23rd November, has this rubric in the agenda (GS 2178): “The Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York will give a Presidential Address.… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
13 days ago
Reply to  David Lamming

You are right David, I was meaning LLF as a formal agenda item. I should have made that clear. LLF will continue to be referenced at Synod for quite some time to come.

Graeme

Charles Clapham
12 days ago
Reply to  Graeme Buttery

Hi Graeme, You may recall I emailed you and other members of the Business Committee of the General Synod back in June 2018 to push you on your decision not to allow any motions or debates on issues of sexuality at the Synod in order because of the LLF process. As I recall, I think your original decision at the time was not to allow any such debates or motions for a period of two years. Following the comment from David Lamming above (which suggests there is scope for questions but nothing more), now that the materials have been published,… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
11 days ago

I would be surprised if there are any substantive debates in General Synod before July 2022, although the House of Bishops might want to test the mind of synod on a general trajectory. Mind you, when they last did that with GS2055 … ! But expect PMMs (which won’t survive prorogation in July 2021) and DSMs (which will), and more of each from November 2021 onwards. More critical will be the composition of the 2021-2026 Synod.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
6 days ago
Reply to  Anthony Archer

Lets hope the electorate actually vote. The fact that so many clergy and deanery reps dont is something I find extraordinary. And I hope election manifestos will be transparent about the candidate’s views and where they are coming from.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
10 days ago

I do remember Charles. We can only deal with requests from those who can initiate business, which is not the Business Committee! Of course even then, other forces can have a huge influence on what happens. Personally speaking, I would have liked a debate by now , even in general terms: the presentations we had did nothing for me.

Graeme

David Exham
David Exham
12 days ago

Why ‘publish’ this book and then not provide book sellers with any copies?

Jenny Humphreys
Jenny Humphreys
10 days ago

My copy of LLF has now arrived in the post! Hurrah! Wish me luck in reading as much of it as I can manage before Synod meets in 10 days time!

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