Thinking Anglicans

Living in Love and Faith – statement by the Bishops of London and Coventry

Press release from the Church of England

Living in Love and Faith: Learning together with our different experiences and theological understandings
25/11/2020

A statement from Bishop Sarah Mullally (Chair of the Next Steps Group) and Bishop Christopher Cocksworth (Chair of the LLF Coordinating Group).

Specific and harmful targeting of some of the individuals who have courageously shared their stories as part of LLF is wrong and not in the spirit of LLF and the Pastoral Principles commended by the House of Bishops. Personal insults and attacks are contrary to the respect, love, grace, kindness and compassion to which we are all called.

We are profoundly grateful to each person who has taken the path of sharing their story publicly for the Living in Love and Faith project. They enrich our learning and invite us to acknowledge the diversity found in the Church today. They are to be received with openness.

Engaging with the LLF resources is enriching and, at different points for different people, challenging. Questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage are deeply personal with real-life consequences. It is vital that our ongoing conversations and processes of learning and discernment take place in as safe a way as possible.

The LLF process of learning together with our different lived experiences and theological understandings is challenging and will not succeed without respect, love, grace, kindness and compassion.

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FrDavid H
FrDavid H
2 months ago

This is like telling President Trump he should be nice to Mr Biden.

ACI
ACI
2 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Or vice versa, after 4 years of open, unrestrained assault.

Kate
Kate
2 months ago

So, what are they going to do about it? Words at this point are insufficient.

Simon Butler
Simon Butler
2 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I think there may be a view that Christian Concern thrive on publicity so giving what they want plays into their hands.

Kate
Kate
2 months ago
Reply to  Simon Butler

That’s a valid point but the two videos have significantly dented the confidence of LGBTI+ people to participate in the LLF process. Restoring that confidence means public action visible to LGBTI+ people not strong words in private. So whether it gives Christian Concern publicity or not, Coventry and London must do much more – and soon.

But I bet they don’t.

Charles Read
Charles Read
2 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I strongly suspect rather tougher words are being said out of the public eye. As Simon says, better to avoid more publicity for Christian Concern at this point. The bishop of Coventry did say at Synod that there had been some frank talking at a hastily reconvened meeting of the LLF steering group. (This was presumably as a result of the CEEC video in which a member of the steering group featured rather prominently.)

Colin Coward
2 months ago

This statement has been written in defense of the LLF process. It does not name or condemn the organisations responsible for the videos, videos designed to fatally undermine the LLF process – but the bishops of London and Coventry don’t seem to see this – they are content to have their project destroyed at birth. Niceness rules – let’s not say anything that’s going to upset anyone – despite the fact that LGBTIQ+ people have been angered and traumatised by the videos. The two bishops do and say nothing, nothing that will reassure us that the process will be safe,… Read more »

Michael
Michael
2 months ago
Reply to  Colin Coward

Colin, I have met the Bishop of Coventry a few times and your assessment is correct. He has zero understanding. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest bishop at that time. He delayed coming to Coventry for several months because he was writing a book. In the same week that a church in a working class district was made redundant, Coventry diocese was advertising for yet another of those diocesan posts, director for worshipping communities at a salary of £47,716. As reported in the Church Times in September “We are deeply sorry to announce that St Mary… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

£47,716 will only be the half of it. A ‘Director’ will need a PA and probably a company car for trundling round the diocese teaching the long suffering clergy how to suck eggs.

Sarumite
Sarumite
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I’ve had to deal with a couple of issues in Coventry Diocese over the past 18 months and they don’t strike me as overly organised. However I wonder if the decision to close the church at Camp Hill is entirely local: it is a Society parish and I ponder if there has been any Ebbsfleet input into the process? But the point about closing poor churches whilst the diocesan hierarchy expands is very pertinent.

Stanley Monkhouse
2 months ago

That London and Coventry should deem it necessary to issue this statement is a deplorable reflection on those responsible for making the threats. They are barely human. They must feel threatened. In addition, the statement displays the authors of LLF and indeed the House of Bishops as negligent. Did nobody say “hang on a minute, might there be repercussions for people sharing their stories?” The naivety beggars belief. It is shameful.

Iain Baxter
Iain Baxter
2 months ago

What an absolutely useless and spineless response from the two bishops. It does not even dare to name who or what they are talking about. It makes no sense unless you already know that.
Completely and utterly appalling. I amazed that I am still able to be shocked by the sheer complacency and lack of understanding of the church’s “leaders”.

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Charles Clapham
Charles Clapham
2 months ago

Having just watched the CEEC video, it is surprising to see current bishops participate in what is effectively a ‘pre-buttal’ of the LFF material – demonstrating as a result no real intention to learn from it. But it is astonishing to see it fronted by Jason Roach, who was a member of the co-ordinating committee. So whilst participating in the production of the LFF report, he was simultaneously taking the lead in producing materials designed to refute it? Hey – if you don’t like the report you’re involved in, resign! That’s what Tina Beardsley did! But to stay in the… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Charles Clapham
peter kettle
peter kettle
2 months ago

Jason Roach is also Bishop’s Advisor (Policy and Strategy) to the Bishop of London!

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
2 months ago
Reply to  peter kettle

You really couldn’t make it up. I wonder if Dame Sarah will start disciplinary proceedings for Mr. Roach?

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
2 months ago

“Is this what evangelicals call integrity?” In their eyes, any dishonest, unprincipled act is justified by saying it is a part of defence of “traditional marriage”. That is why American evangelicals (and, I suspect, not a few British ones) throw their minor children out of the house, enrol them on abusive “conversion” courses and the like: even child abuse is justified in the eyes of evangelicals if it contributes to their cause. The current Archbishop of Canterbury will not condemn their behaviour, because he will never criticise his friends. This is how the Church of England dies as a force… Read more »

ACI
ACI
2 months ago

That is why American evangelicals throw their minor children out of the house…

Charles Read
1 month ago

even child abuse is justified in the eyes of evangelicals if it contributes to their cause”

This is a very serious accusation. Can you either produce evidence for this or perhaps explain what you mean a bit more?

Fr Andrew Welsby
Fr Andrew Welsby
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles Read

Cant speak for Interested Observer, but watch the film “Boy erased”. Pretty clear to me that’s abuse.

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
2 months ago

Evangelicals vary and CEEC by no means represents all in the Church of England. Also I do not think it necessarily reflects a lack of integrity to be part of LLF while being for or against affirmation. My main problem is with the senior leaders who are privately affirming but will not say so (or even refute historical inaccuracies), who endorse a gag on affirming bishops and who are obsessed with placating the small but vocal minority of C of E members who are strongly against greater inclusion, whatever the cost to LGBT+ people and our families.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
2 months ago

The targeting of individuals is more than ‘wrong and not in the spirit’ of LLF’. This is not about this discredited process anymore. It is about hate speech and behaviour which is little better than bullying and thinly disguised homophobic and transphobic abuse. If the said Bishops don’t understand this is not about their play nicely plans then they are part of the problem which is not addressed either in the process or this letter. How many more attacks does it take to understand what is really going on here? Hate is hate even if you dress it up in… Read more »

Kate
Kate
2 months ago

“This is not about this discredited process anymore. It is about hate speech and behaviour which is little better than bullying and thinly disguised homophobic and transphobic abuse. ”

Absolutely. It is why I was disappointed that Surviving Church chose to highlight politics rather than safety. It is why the response from the two bishops is so short of the mark that it almost adds insult to injury.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
2 months ago
Reply to  Kate

I can see the importance of understanding the politics behind what is going on.I agree personal safety is much more important. If hate speech and personal attacks are not publicly called out, it empowers the power wielding group to become more overt and bolder in what they do. Women, LGBTI people can be singled out and their experiences ridiculed. To link #Metoo to the so called ‘sexual revolution’ – it’s almost a covert ‘they asked for it’ moment – showed what is really thought about women and sexual assault. Mentioning #Metoo and failing to condemn sexual assault by men in… Read more »

Dave
Dave
2 months ago

They are to be received with openness.” Are the bishops reprimanding the two bishops that have spoken in the CEEC video? They seem not to be entering the process with open minds.

David Exham
David Exham
2 months ago

“Engaging with the LLF resources is enriching…” Not for me since I still can’t buy the book!

George Simm
George Simm
2 months ago

Disgusting Homophobia and Transphobia from groups such as CEEC, AM and CC. Say it how it is.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
2 months ago
Reply to  George Simm

Some years ago a gay priest friend of mine was told by bishop Tom Wright – who sent an archdeacon with the message .- “You are not wanted here, Get out of my diocese”. Naturally, my friend was shocked and shattered – especially since his congregation adored him. His only crime was his sexuality. When he asked the archdeacon what Good News there was for him, the venerable gentleman replied “There isn’t any!”. Recently Justin Welby told Newsnight the “gift of God in Jesus Christ …brings hope for the future”. Such pious platitudes mean nothing to the majority of people.… Read more »

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
2 months ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

I’m not sure they’re worse. I think they are more public. It’s gone on for years but I think it has been empowered by the present ABC. The toleration and excusing of overt homophobia and transphobia has resulted in the attitudes we’ve seen on video. Too many lives have been damaged and ministries lost due to hate dressed as God’s will. I doubt there will be any meaningful action from ABC. What we do to protect ourselves is a question I’m pondering.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
2 months ago

I agree. I suspect it is like Black Lives Matter, unacceptable discriminatory behaviour that has happened for decades in hidden corners is now captured on video and receives the full glare of publicity. But ironically, in the Church, unlike for the Police, it is the perpetrators themselves who have shot the videos and uploaded them to YouTuvbe.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon Dawson

I agree. Some of the videos out there from BLM show how attitudes have hardened and come out into the light – Trump and to a degree the present UK govt with it’s hostile environment policies – have made it ok to be racist disguised as something else. The police can be held to account to a point but only when enough pressure and public revulsion happens. May be it’s time people who do not agree with the hate speech in the church call it out and in mass numbers tell it for what it is. Excusing things as another… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

Heavens, so hypocritical when one remembers his predecessor had been cautioned for getting frisky with a Yorkshire farmer in a public lavatory in Hull. I may have mentioned before but Bishop Wright was once in Washington D.C. when he should have been in Washington, Tyne & Wear taking a confirmation service. All the little girls were in lined up in their white confirmation dresses and the boys had combed their hair, and no suffragan bishop could be found to jump in his car and save the day. I hope your friend told the archdeacon to sling his hook and do… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

PS. A friend of mine from my St. Albans days recounted how he was dragged by his training incumbent to Rose Castle to appear before the Bishop of Carlisle because the TI had discovered that my friend was in a gay relationship. To his credit Bishop Harland gave the TI short shrift and sent the pair away. A week later my friend went into church to find the married TI engaged in horizontal jogging on the back pew of the church with his churchwarden’s wife. He clutched his pearls and then threw a hassock at the rutting pair. No more… Read more »

Jeremy
Jeremy
2 months ago

At this rate the next Lambeth Conference will be a spectacular disaster.
Just desserts!

ACI
ACI
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy

I believe average attendance in the CofE is now 57, with an average age above that.

Lambeth Conferences are a bit of a joke as it is. Disaster, however, could be the collapse of the Church of England. And other provinces like AC of C or TEC, whose statistics are not much better.

If Lambeth is put off until 2022, we will have seen even further erosion.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 month ago
Reply to  ACI

True perhaps. But where in Western Europe is it any better?

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Western Europe does not attend the Lambeth Conference, which was the context of the response. The Church of England does; indeed, its ABC organizes and purports to be the warrant for the LC.

In our experience of Catholic life in France, I do not believe there is the same decline over the space of a generation as in the CofE. The Catholic Church in France does not purport to organize global angicanism.

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  ACI

…purport to organize global Catholicism (with apologies to Avignon).

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
1 month ago
Reply to  ACI

1.8% of French people attend Church regularly which is akin to the CofE. The percentage is lower among Scandinavian Lutherans. Western Europe is almost entirely secular. Singling out the the CofE is perverse.

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

“At this rate the next Lambeth Conference will be a spectacular disaster.”

Why can’t you stay with the thread?

The Catholic Church in France does not purport to organize a global gathering of all Catholics worldwide.

(As for statistics, can you show the rates of decline over the past fifty years? Here I believe the comparison in France to CofE is probably the nearly kaput united reformed-lutheran church association).

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  FrDavid H

PS–as Froghole and others have pointed out ignoring the severe decline is, well, perverse, to use a word. Here is the situation in TEC. It is worse in the CofE. Is it the same in the Catholic Church in France? I’d need to see the proof. Certainly not in the churches we are familiar with across the country. “Generational replacement is the key factor that buoys the size of churches. As older people die off, they are replaced by children in the congregation moving into adulthood. But in the case of the ECUSA, that seems incredibly unlikely. Here’s why: 55%… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 month ago
Reply to  ACI

re TEC In the 1950’s Episcopalianism had a strong campus ministry and my older Episcopal clergy friends have told me the downgrading of this from the 60’s was a massive mistake. Of course the US has become much more secular especially in the NE and all the mainline Protestant denominations are in decline. That said I go annually to Sewanee where the School of Theology seems in good heart and a numbers of Students attend the services at Chapel and the parish church has a good number of children at Godly Play. It’s a pity this seemingly isn’t replicated elsewhere… Read more »

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Campus ministry in TEC was effective, as you say. I am struck in France at the robust character of scouting, which is linked to Catholic life. That is also a loss in the US.

Wycliffe Toronto has its largest student body, in spite of Covid. Shutting down campus life is a hard thing, however, for students and their families. Chapel ‘online’ will appeal only as a stop-gap. Students I am teaching via Zoom are clearly excited to have some contact but equally burdened by the coronatide.

T Pott
T Pott
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

In the most comparable countries, those with national Protestant churches,weekly attendance may not be much better but baptism and confirmation rates are very much higher. Almost three quarters of Danish teenagers are confirmed in the national church. The Church of Denmark has not alienated the people of Denmark.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
1 month ago
Reply to  T Pott

I agree to some extent T Pott but in Scandinavia the Church scene is far less denominational and they have a church tax to undergird the National Church. Even in Sweden despite disestablishment my friends tell me the finances are holding up far better than they expected in 2000. That rites of passage hold up so well is impressive as at least the people come into contact with the clergy at significant liminal moments in their lives. And the Scandinavian Churches are far less diverse than the C of E , at least if you turn up you more or… Read more »

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

We lived in a small village of 300, in the rectory of the parish church (20+ parishes in our secteur). I was extremely surprised to see the commitment of lay leadership. For music, catechesis, scouting, visiting, even preparation for death. I did not get any sense of laity vs ‘conservativism of the institution.’ ‘Father’ has his role but the Church is not him. I attended a Stations service with my wife and it was the same group year in and year out all laity. Clergy shortage is an issue, but since laicization, adults have assumed responsibility for making their church… Read more »

ACI
ACI
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

On the Anglican Communion. I believe the situation will become clearer when the dust settles on the established church, traditionally looked upon as its historical centre — if not raison d’etre due to BCP and missionary history. What others looked to, did not always merge with how the CofE thought about itself. That is increasingly so. I agree that we are now in something of a limbo.

Froghole
Froghole
1 month ago
Reply to  Perry Butler

Many thanks for these comments, Dr Butler! It seems to me that the Westphalian principle of cuius regio, eius religio applied much more comprehensively in Scandinavia (Finland excepted) than in the British isles, where attempts to apply it prior to 1640 were unsuccessful, and where – as you will know as well as anyone who writes in here – it was made effectively redundant with the Occasional Conformity Act 1711. Swedish disestablishment was justified largely on the grounds of growing demographic pluralism: Church membership has fallen from more than 90% in the 1970s to not much more than 55% now:… Read more »

Anne Eyre
Anne Eyre
1 month ago

Please could the House of Bishops turn their attention to the law of the land in relation to communications on platforms like this one , or twitter . many of these comments are hate crimes and should be reported immediately to the police. Bible based is not outside the law

Revd Gabrielle A
Revd Gabrielle A
1 month ago

Re: Great concerns over film, ‘The Beautiful Story’. This 30 minute film was very hard to watch! How can we dialogue with such closed minds and certain views that are not open to review and reflect Jesus’ universal and inclusive love of everyone, whoever the person was, and in fact, had nothing to say on the matter of same sex relationships? It is so difficult to engage in proper dialogue where such strong views are so clearly stated. Most young people today have no truck with this sort of prejudiced and discriminatory practice against the LGBT+ communities. It is so tragic that… Read more »

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