Thinking Anglicans

Together responds to LLF

together for the Church of England has published this letter to Martyn Snow.
The full text is copied here (the signatures list is below the fold).

Dear Bishop Martyn

LIVING IN LOVE AND FAITH – JULY SYNOD

We are writing to thank you for your work over recent months in guiding the LLF project forwards and for the publication of the latest proposals before General Synod. It is clear that you and the LLF staff team have taken great pains to ensure that different perspectives were able to contribute, and we see this reflected in the papers before Synod. We would also wish to extend our thanks to the College and House of Bishops for their continuing engagement with LLF, and hope that there will be support for the measures being proposed.

We welcome the proposal to remove restrictions on the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith in standalone services. Many of us have already seen the pastoral and missional potential of the PLF material within existing services, which will be enhanced by making them available for use in standalone services. That this opportunity occurs on a voluntary opt-in basis helps to respect conscience all round and is something that we support. While it is not the gold standard of equal marriage that many of us seek, we recognise that this is a proportionate compromise that can be offered while the Church continues to explore these areas.

We are pleased that serious discussion is progressing on the freedom of clergy to enter a same-sex civil marriage. While we would have preferred to see more on this at the July Synod we welcome the clear timetable stating a decision will be taken by the House of Bishops in January 2025. For many clergy in faithful, stable, permanent relationships this decision cannot come soon enough. It is also a decision that many lay people already in same-sex marriages and who wish to explore a vocation to ordained ministry have been patiently waiting for. We firmly believe in marriage and the benefits it offers in regularising and honouring the love between two people. All of our clergy should be able to structure their closest and most intimate relationship in this way and we look forward to the further work from FAOC and the decision of the House of Bishops.

We look forward to hearing more about the model of specific and defined delegation of episcopal ministry to maximise inclusion under episcopal pastoral care. We support the rejection of hard structural approaches to managing differences in the life of the Church and welcome an approach focussed on pastoral relationships. As a Church we must never neglect that personal relationships contribute most strongly in building up the Church as the body of Christ, and managing difference is best achieved through good interpersonal relationships ahead of recourse to legalistic frameworks.

We remain fully committed to the unity of the Church, creating a generous space where all can thrive regardless of either sexuality or sincerely held theological conviction. We appreciate your comments in the LLF papers that what is proposed may not be ideal, but will allow us a space to discern God’s will in the longer term. Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good, and seeking perfection only delivers paralysis. We therefore welcome these proposals, acknowledging that they cannot deliver everything that all seek from the LLF process, and look forward to engaging with them further.

Please be assured of our prayers during the upcoming Synod and in the work that will follow.

Yours sincerely

The Revd Neil Patterson (Together for the Church of England – Chair)
Nic Tall (Together for the Church of England – National Co-ordinator)

Professor Helen King (Together on General Synod)
The Revd Canon Andrew Dotchin (Together on General Synod)

The Revd Canon Lisa Battye (The Evangelical Forum for General Synod – Co-convener)
The Ven Malcolm Chamberlain (The Evangelical Forum for General Synod – Co-convener and Inclusive Evangelicals Co-ordinator)
Simon Friend (The Evangelical Forum for General Synod – Co-convener)
The Ven Nikki Groarke (The Evangelical Forum for General Synod – Co-convener)
The Ven Pete Spiers (The Evangelical Forum for General Synod – Co-convener)

Canon Dr Felicity Cooke (GS WATCH – Convenor)

Margaret Sheather(Affirming Catholics in Synod – Co-Convenor)
Jacqueline Stamper (Affirming Catholics in Synod – Co-Convenor)

Kat D’Arcy-Cumber (UK Global Majority member of General Synod)
Kenson Li (UK Global Majority member of General Synod and Ordinand)
The Revd Dr Charlie Bell (General Synod member)
The Ven Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes (Archdeacon of Liverpool and General Synod Member)

Fr Dan Barnes-Davies SCP (Inclusive Church – Chair)
Fiona MacMillan (Inclusive Church Trustee and General Synod member)

The Revd Martine Oborne (Women and the Church – Chair)

The Revd Catherine Cleghorn (Society of Catholic Priests – Provincial Secretary)
Fr Danny Pegg (Society of Catholic Priests – Provincial Council)

The Revd Nick Bundock (Inclusive Evangelicals – Co-ordinator)
The Revd Steve Hollinghurst (Inclusive Evangelicals – Co-ordinator)
The Revd Alex Huzzey (Inclusive Evangelicals – Co-ordinator)
The Revd Dr Kate Massey (Inclusive Evangelicals – Co-ordinator and General Synod member)
The Revd Dr Paul Roberts (Inclusive Evangelicals – Co-ordinator)
The Revd David Runcorn (Inclusive Evangelicals – Co-ordinator)
The Revd Jody Stowell (Inclusive Evangelicals – Co-ordinator and General Synod member)

The Revd Canon Jarel Robinson-Brown (OneBodyOneFaith Co-Chair)
The Revd Jo Winn-Smith (OneBodyOneFaith – Trustee and General Synod member)

The Revd Andrew Howorth (Open Table Network – Co-Chair)
Sarah Hobb (Open Table Network – Co-Chair)

Matthew Parkes (Affirming Catholicism – Chair and General Synod member)
The Revd Dr Hannah Cleugh (Affirming Catholicism – Secretary)

Professor Elaine Graham (Modern Church – Chair)
Alison Webster (Modern Church – General Secretary)

The Reverend Jide Macaulay (House of Rainbow – Founder and CEO)

Abigail Hollingsworth (Student Christian Movement – Chair of Trustees)
The Revd Naomi Nixon (Student Christian Movement – CEO)

The Revd Nigel Pietroni (The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England – Chair)
The Revd Dr Brenda Wallace (The Campaign for Equal Marriage and General Synod member)

Revd Ann Lynes (Clergy Consultation)
Mtr Ariadne van den Hof (Clergy Consultation)

The Revd Canon Tim Goode (Canon for Congregational Discipleship and Nurture, York Minster)

The Revd Wendy Wale (Member of New Wine Network)
The Revd Frances Shoesmith (Member of New Wine Network)
The Revd Julie Gawthorpe (Member of New Wine Network)
Andrew Mitchell (Member of New Wine Network)
Julie Edwards (Member of New Wine Network)

Rachel Holman (Member of HTB Network Church)
Dr Kat Gardner (Member of HTB Network Church)
Paul Langley (Member of HTB Network Church)
James Lazarus (Member of HTB Network Church)
Richard Holland (Member of HTB Network Church)

Copy to:
The Presidents of Synod
The House of Bishops
LLF Programme Board
LLF Staff

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Kelvin Holdsworth
20 days ago

“We are pleased that serious discussion is progressing on the freedom of clergy to enter a same-sex civil marriage.”

This is a bit of a hostage to fortune. Surely the hope is that same-sex couples would be able to enter into marriages conducted by other churches, even if the C of E won’t do them.

Charles Read
Charles Read
20 days ago

Perhaps the most significant thing here is that members of New Wine and the HTB network have felt able to speak openly about their dissent from the line taken by the leaders of these networks by signing this letter. New Wine moved a long way from its male-only leadership stance – will it do so over LLF?

Simon W
Simon W
Reply to  Charles Read
20 days ago

Friends who are members of ‘New Wine’ network churches, incl clergy, have said they were not happy to have Revds Johnson, Coles, Langham claiming to speak for them over PLF in the Alliances’s letter.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  Charles Read
20 days ago

I don’t think this letter is about dissent, more about holding different views within the same body.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Charles Read
19 days ago

Over 1800 church leaders turn up when New Wine run a conference. The fact that three ministers linked to New Wine wanted to put their name to this letter does not point to widespread dissent. No officeholders from the HTB Network have put their name to it. The Church Times puts HTB’s own congregation at 10,000 with another 95 churches in the HTB Network. The fact that five lay members put their name to this letter does not indicate widespread dissent. I have been very surprised at how little pushback there has been from the HTB Network and New Wine.… Read more »

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Paul
19 days ago

You may be in for a further surprise then because I have spoken to a number of people from HTB churches who are not happy at the direction of travel on this. And don’t forget the very public dissent from St Augustine’s!

EagletP
EagletP
Reply to  Paul
18 days ago

Agreed, Paul – I happen to know one of the clergy signatories to this letter and was most surprised to see her connecting herself with NewWine. She may be on a mailing list, of course, or gone to a few local meetings but I’m pretty sure she hasn’t been to a national NW event for many a year – I certainly haven’t seen her. Also, she normally keeps people appraised of her comings and goings on her very active social media feed – nothing on there either.

Laurie Ludwick
Laurie Ludwick
Reply to  Paul
15 days ago

I am a member of HTB Brompton Road, not clergy, and I just discovered these letters because I’m stuck at home with Covid and was reading the Guardian which referenced “the Alliance”. I find it heartbreaking that in this day and age there is an emerging schism because people are unwilling to compromise when they can build a unified church that respects diversity among members and focuses on the primary aim of spreading the gospel and doing God’s work. The tone and language of the Alliance’s letter was deeply disappointing. I have attended HTB Brompton Road for 12 years. I… Read more »

Francis Scott
Francis Scott
Reply to  Charles Read
16 days ago

Did New Wine ever have a male-only leadership stance? Not aware that that was ever a thing.

Francis Scott
Francis Scott
Reply to  Charles Read
16 days ago

PS ‘member of New Wine Network’ means simply that you are on a mailing list of church leaders (in the widest sense) – not that you have any level of responsibility within the Network. I note there are no signatories who are local or national leaders of the Network. The same appears to be true of those listed as being from the ‘HTB Network’.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Francis Scott
16 days ago

That’s the whole point. Sorry you missed that.

Mitch McLean
Mitch McLean
20 days ago

The fact that these proposals have been welcomed and applauded by Together but strongly rejected by The Alliance shows that the right balance has not been found.
I think an ideal solution would please and upset both camps equally.

Dave G
Dave G
Reply to  Mitch McLean
20 days ago

Or that Together are pragmatic while the Alliance (which always sounds to me like a Midlands Building Society) are impossibilists for whom any change is met by a thunderous Ian Paisley style “NO!” Together’s letter sounds far more reasonable in tone than the Alliance, who come across as nitpicking grumpy legalists.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  Dave G
19 days ago

This is clearly untrue.

The Alliance contains leaders who have always put a huge stress on flexing to work with a very wide range of people – Nicky Gumbel and Archie Coates for example.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Paul
19 days ago

This would be the Coates and Gumbel allied with those threatening to form a new Province because people are disagreeing with them? ‘Flexing’ and width are not words that comes to mind to describe their approach. Furthermore within discussions on the large and growing Inclusive Evangelicals network there is plenty of frustration and evidence that HTB and New Wine leaders have yet to openly consult with the ‘wide range’ within own membership over this issue.

Paul
Paul
Reply to  David Runcorn
19 days ago

This is exactly my point David. Coates and Gumbel have always been willing to show flexibility on other issues (to a point that has alarmed other evangelicals), but on this issue they have said that flexibility is not an option. They are clearly operating from principles, not lashing out because of their temperament. As to there being frustration within Inclusive Evangelicals – HTB and New Wine combined are larger in Average Sunday Attendance and number of clergy than most dioceses. It would be bizarre if there were not large numbers of people who disagreed with the leadership. If only 90%… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Paul
19 days ago

I am very sure they have principles and never said they were lashing out at anyone. What they are unable to accept is that others have principles too. One moment you say ‘it would be bizarre if there were not large numbers of people who disagreed with the leadership’ and the next you are suggesting very few do. What is clear is that they have they not allowed the discussions to happen. As +Steven says, they are behaving unilaterally. I think you are speculatively claiming majorities without actual evidence. My evidence is from extended discussions on the IE network, which… Read more »

Paul
Paul
Reply to  David Runcorn
19 days ago

Apologies if I wasn’t clear.

My point was that when you are dealing with very large numbers of people then a small proportion can still be a large number.

1000 is a large number. 10% is a small proportion.

Does that make more sense?

I happen to agree that majorities are not always right.

The question is not whether the leaders of HTB and New Wine are right, but whether they are representative of their constituencies. I see no reason to believe that they aren’t, even though I also believe your claim to have met many discontents.

Revd Charles Clapham
Revd Charles Clapham
Reply to  Paul
19 days ago

“If only 90% of the Sunday Congregation at HTB agreed with Gumbel and Coates then there would be 1,000 people who disagree. That’s a lot of people, but personally I’d be pleased to have 90% of my congregation with me on a difficult decision.” 90% is hopelessly over-optimistic figure, Paul!! The reason church leaders from HTB and elsewhere are so reluctant to publicise their position on gay relationships with their congregations or on their websites is precisely because they know that large numbers of those who attend don’t agree! And the younger the attenders are, the more likely they are… Read more »

Laurie Ludwick
Laurie Ludwick
Reply to  David Runcorn
15 days ago

How true!!

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Paul
19 days ago

And this is clearly fantasy.

HTB network is often less flexible than it appears. I have seen a spectacular lack of it over the very different demands of rural ministry. But then few people live in the countryside and numbers are what matter – isn’t that what you are saying?

Last edited 19 days ago by Charles Read
Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
Reply to  Mitch McLean
19 days ago

The programme board appear to have intervened to ensure a hard landing for the LLF process. The Alliance have readied themselves for impact, while Together are looking for the exit doors.

Susannah Clark
19 days ago

It is a temperate letter, and valuable not least to demonstrate that half the Church of England probably believes that gay sexuality is precious and a gift. There are simply two different conscientious views in the Church of England, and people have to understand and live with that in co-existence… or leave. We do not need to ‘quarantine’ from each other, or partition off. The Church of England is the national church, and in every parish there are people with these differing views. The logic of allowing individuals to opt in or opt out is compelling. You don’t want to… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Susannah Clark
15 days ago

“It is a temperate letter, and valuable not least to demonstrate that half the Church of England probably believes that gay sexuality is precious and a gift.”

Yes. I think it is also valuable in offering support to +Martyn. I really feel for him. He has a truly terrible job and must at times feel really dispirited. I am sure that a letter which wasn’t combative came as a welcome relief.

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