Thinking Anglicans

Prayers of Love and Faith to be made available for use from Sunday

Press release from the Church of  Englaand

Prayers of Love and Faith to be made available for use from Sunday
12/12/2023

Selection of readings and prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples commended.

A selection of readings and prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples can be used in Church of England services for the first time from Sunday, December 17, following approval by the House of Bishops.

The final texts of Prayers of Love and Faith, commended for use in regular public worship or private prayer, are published today, together with pastoral guidance which sets out how they could be used.

At a meeting held online this morning, the House of Bishops confirmed its earlier decision to commend the Prayers of Love and Faith resources for use in regular public worship and agreed that this should take effect from Sunday December 17.

The Prayers can be used in regular scheduled services, such as a Sunday Eucharist or Evensong.

The House also continued to discuss separate proposals for special standalone services for same-sex couples to be formally authorised under canon law.

This follows a motion agreed by General Synod in November calling on the bishops to consider whether standalone services for same-sex couples could be made available for use, possibly on a trial basis.

The Prayers of Love and Faith were developed as part of the outcome of a seven-year period of listening, learning and discernment known as Living in Love and Faith.

The House of Bishops has said it will consider pastoral provision to protect the conscience of those who wish to use the Prayers and of those who do not.

It is intended that there will be wide process of consultation regarding the provision to ensure that whatever is agreed serves to promote unity and has broad support across the Church.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, and the Bishop of Newcastle, Helen-Ann Hartley, are chairing the group overseeing the introduction of Prayers of Love and Faith.

Bishop Helen-Ann said: “The Prayers of Love and Faith are resources to pray with and for a same-sex couple who are committed to one another in faithfulness and love. They are intended to enable those who wish to give thanks for and joyfully mark that commitment before God and their community of faith.”

Bishop Martyn added: “We know not everyone in the Church of England agrees on these important questions which go the heart of who we are – about people’s lives, their love and our shared faith. This is reflected in the House of Bishops, where there remain different views on the best ways to proceed.

“These Prayers are offered as pastoral provision. It is our prayer that they can be used with grace and understanding. Sharing them will be a blessing to the whole Church.”

The House agreed by 24 votes to 11, with three abstentions, in favour of a motion (see full text below) to make the Prayers of Love and Faith resources available with effect from December 17. Bishops also approved a motion to commend the Prayers for a Covenanted Friendship from the same date by 30 votes to six, with two abstentions. They are published together with the Prayers of Love and Faith resources.

More information

The motions approved were:

  1. ‘That this House, having agreed at its meeting of 9 October to commend the PLF Resource Section (‘PLF RS’) for use in the minster’s discretion under Canon B 5, now resolve that the PLF RS be commended with effect from December 17 2023 and published accordingly
  2. That this House, having agreed at its meeting of 9 October to commend the Prayers for a Covenanted Friendship for use in the minster’s discretion under Canon B 5, now resolve that the Prayers for a Covenanted Friendship be commended with effect from December 17 2023 and published accordingly.

Further notes:

  • The Prayers of Love and Faith have been commended for use from Sunday December 17. Given the busy Advent Season, it is likely that they will be more widely used in the New Year.
  • The final texts are available both as a downloadable resource and as text on the Church of England website.
  • The Church’s understanding of marriage – or Holy Matrimony – remains as a lifelong, faithful and exclusive covenant between one man and one woman. Yet some may wish to recognise the commitment same-sex couples make to each other and publicly pray for God’s blessing on them.
  • Commendation is when prayers or other liturgical materials are put forward by the House of Bishops as being suitable for use by ministers in exercise of their discretion under Canon B5.
  • Authorisation is more formal and means that a service becomes an integral part of the official liturgical resources of the Church of England available for use.
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Helen King
Helen King
6 months ago

Interesting that the guidance document includes (italicized) the guidance for the standalone services even though they are still being discussed, https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2023-12/living-in-love-and-faith-pastoral-guidance.pdf

Adrian
Adrian
6 months ago

I predict that people will read the pastoral guidance, and conflate the guidance not in italics with the guidance in italics. While seeing what the pastoral guidance would be is useful for many reasons, I would have preferred the use of square brackets around the possible future guidance at the least, or for it to be omitted from the published guidance re commended material.

Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
Lorenzo Fernandez-Smal
6 months ago

Let the chips fall where they may.

Maungyvicar
Maungyvicar
6 months ago

“an appropriate pastoral response needs to be made, which explains the
reasons for not offering the prayers or service that a couple is requesting.”

“An open, pastorally sensitive conversation should be had, where the
couple’s perspective can be expressed safely,”

Oh great, well, this will stretch my resilience and pastoral sensitivity. Does this mean that the C of E is going to enable opportunities for clergy to speak the same way to their bishops and archdeacons? Reciprocity and all that.

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
6 months ago

This is a step forward, and for this I am truly grateful. But the tone is still surprisingly grudging – it seems as if we can’t really be too nice to the gays and lesbians in case we upset those who are made extremely anxious about all this. I understand that. But it doesn’t half take the shine off this for the group for whom it is intended, and who are extremely tired of being told that they are unblessable and less than “normal” couples for whom Holy Matrimony (capitals obligatory) is reserved. I don’t need churchy people telling me… Read more »

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
6 months ago

What happens in a diocese with a conservative diocesan? How does he or she manage to help their LGBT+ faithful flourish in a time of uncertainty, given that use of the prayers will be legal?
This Ad Clerum from the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham gives us an insight. It is not encouraging.
https://acrobat.adobe.com/id/urn:aaid:sc:EU:ff5265c8-b7fa-43f1-95ed-77cc45c4b3df

Simon W
Simon W
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
6 months ago

“I’ll never use the prayers; I don’t want any of you to use the prayers, but I realise I can’t stop you.” This statement has deep anxiety written all over it. Why so afraid?

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
6 months ago

That’s shocking. It’s all about him and his views. If a gay or lesbian member of the diocese reads that, they are going to feel so rejected. He didn’t even write how much they are loved and welcome in the diocese.

Frankly I am disgusted.

Laurence Cunnington
Laurence Cunnington
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

“He didn’t even write how much they are loved and welcome in the diocese.”
That’s because they aren’t. This is a bishop who can write: “I continue to recognise the disappointment and pain” that his actions cause – and then chooses to continue to inflict the disappointment and pain. You are not alone in your disgust.

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
6 months ago

Is obedience regularly exercised?

Adrian F Sunman
Adrian F Sunman
Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton
6 months ago

It’s not very encouraging at all. Frankly I have my doubts about the direction that PLF is not to be used in parishes which are currently in vacancy is actually enforceable or has any force in law. However I suspect some of the vagueness in the wording of Canon C18 may provide a fig leaf behind which the good bishop, and those of a similar turn of mind, can hide. I have also downloaded the prayers in question and struggled to find anything contentious or controversial in them. My only moan, if I can make one, is the absence of… Read more »

Struggling Anglican
Struggling Anglican
6 months ago

The elephant strained and gave birth to a very small mouse.

Charles Razzall
Charles Razzall
Reply to  Struggling Anglican
6 months ago

Quite agree.These prayers seem constrained within a very narrow matrix-that of lesbian and gay relationships and offer NOTHING for BQTUIA people.

Neil Patterson
Neil Patterson
Reply to  Charles Razzall
6 months ago

Important point, Charles. It would be really helpful for you, or others, to articulate what sorts of things (that the Church of England might do) would be good for BQTUIA people. We did have the ‘Trans Welcome’ debate in Synod, and then guidance on use of the renewal of baptism service, as one T-related response.

Adrian
Adrian
6 months ago

Where is the draft guidance about whether clergy can be married to a same sex partner, with or without disciplinary consequences, or if they can have standalone blessings?

Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy Pemberton
Reply to  Adrian
6 months ago

They are coming in the new year. The two things will not necessarily come at the same time. But they are coming.

Mary Hancock
Mary Hancock
6 months ago

I’ve just read the Ad Clerum kindly linked by Jeremy P issued by his Diocesan Bishop. Priests with Cure of Souls (incumbents and priests in charge, I assume) are mentioned in the Ad Clerum, and ministers licensed in their parishes. I’m just wondering where the many priests with Permission To Officiate stand re the prayers. Retired priests like me with PTO often equal, if not outnumber, stipended priests in a Diocese. I’d assumed that we would be governed by the stance of the stipended priest and PCC of any church where we were asked to officiate. But as PTO is… Read more »

peter kettle
peter kettle
Reply to  Mary Hancock
6 months ago

I think PTO is issued by the Bishop but can only then be used at the invitation of the incumbent / priest in charge or whatever of any parish. I assume the same would be the case with non-parochial situations e.g. chaplaincies, but am not sure where they stand in all this.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
6 months ago

I gather Pope Francis has accorded to the request from the Belgian episcopate for the blessing of same sex civil partnerships. Is this correct? And where might they be found? Anyone know?

Vincent Van Der Weerden
Vincent Van Der Weerden
Reply to  Perry Butler
6 months ago

When did he accord? Last year in 2022? Is this something that happened today?

Vincent Van Der Weerden
Vincent Van Der Weerden
Reply to  Perry Butler
6 months ago

Don’t know what you are referring to? Is this something that happened today?

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Vincent Van Der Weerden
6 months ago

. I was told it by an RC friend in October.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Perry Butler
6 months ago

Is this what you are referring to? https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/belgian-bishops-signal-approval-of-same-sex-blessings It is clear that in Europe, especially Belgium and Germany, a number of Roman Catholic bishops are very keen to make progress towards the full acceptance and inclusion of same sex relationships. But I think the Pope (whatever his personal belief) is choosing to be more cautious, and find a middle way between those wanting to move forward fast, and those not wanting to move at all. In all of this it is necessary to pay very careful attention to the exact wording of what the Pope and the bishops say. There… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Dawson
6 months ago

I think your final paragraph states the Pope’s position correctly. The October BBC report linked in my reply to Perry Butler does not go as far as the September one you quote from Belgium which accordingly must be treated with some reserve. The respective dates have to be taken at face value.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Perry Butler
6 months ago

This, I think, is what is being referred to here, and it dates from October. But note the caveats imposed by Pope Francis.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-66991427

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

Thanks Rowland. In all of this talk about approval of blessings of relationships or partnerships or suchlike it is worth stating explicitly what this is all about. When we talk of “blessings” we need to be careful to specify what that blessing is meant to achieve. There is too much unhelpful vagueness here. For heterosexuals it is marriage that transforms the sexual act between the two contracting partners from a sinful to an allowable act in the eyes of the church. For those of us who are homosexual can we ask the same question. It might be nice to have… Read more »

Vincent Van Der Weerden
Vincent Van Der Weerden
Reply to  Simon Dawson
6 months ago

Hey guys this is what the belgium bishops published with regards to same sex blessings: During pastoral meetings, the question is often asked about a moment of prayer to ask God that He may bless and perpetuate this commitment of love and faithfulness. It is best to discuss the content and form of that prayer with a pastoral manager. Such a moment of prayer can take place in complete simplicity. The difference must also remain clear with what the Church understands by a sacramental marriage. This moment of prayer can, for example, proceed as follows. o Opening words o Opening… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Vincent Van Der Weerden
6 months ago

Simple prayers for the couple and their relationship, but a very clear statement that this is in no way equivalent to marriage. So about the same as the C of E.

What is different in the Belgian example is the tone of language in their discussion of this. Much less legalistic and much more welcoming.

Vincent Van Der Weerden
Vincent Van Der Weerden
Reply to  Simon Dawson
6 months ago

Thanks so much for the reply Simon. Below i give the Pope’s answer to this. Let me know how it compares to the Belgians and the COE? I give it to you below: 2 (a) The Church has a very clear understanding of marriage: it is an exclusive, stable, and indissoluble union between a man and a woman, naturally open to the generation of children. Only this type of union does the Church call a “marriage.” Other forms of union realize it only in “a partial and analogous way” (Amoris Laetitia, 292), which is why they cannot be called “marriage,”… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Vincent Van Der Weerden
6 months ago

Thanks for this. Fascinating.

On the one hand I can totally support the Pope’s sense of charity and pastoral concern. Yet at the same time totally reject his anti-gay casuistry.

I think he is saying the same thing as the Cof E but in a more charitable way.

Vincent Van Der Weerden
Vincent Van Der Weerden
Reply to  Simon Dawson
6 months ago

Do you know if any churches that have started using the prayers this Sunday?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Vincent Van Der Weerden
6 months ago

Used in Felixstowe on Sunday morning: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-67743298

Francis James
Francis James
6 months ago

Thank you Jeremy for the link to Paul Williams’s ad clerum. It reads like a Private Eye parody, in that it is desperately earnest, ineffectually authoritarian, badly written, and will please nobody.
As an old seafarer I wonder what would happen if we put people like him on a ship whose crew included a few gays & other ‘unacceptable’ groups (which is normal). It would be nice to think that they would learn to live & let live, as seafarers do, but I suspect that their fears would overwhelm them well before they got that chance. 

Gary Gilbert
Gary Gilbert
6 months ago

“Covenanted friendships are of an entirely different nature to marriage” is total nonsense. If two people commit to caring for each other, only marriage will do. Discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation is unacceptable. The proposed prayers are not well-written. Civil marriage is a thousand times better. The dignity of the human person demands that all similarly situated couples be treated the same. Alas, the c o e is a church of apartheid.

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