Since 2017, the Church of England has been exploring how identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage fit within the good news of Jesus Christ. Find out more about Living in Love and Faith and where the Church of England sits currently on that journey, on the national Church of England website.
Following the publication on 20 January 2023 of the College of Bishop’s proposals to be considered by General Synod, Bishop Mark issued this message:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Most of you will be aware of the announcement from the College of Bishops on Friday 20th January, following the conclusion of Living in Love and Faith, a 6-year listening process for the Church of England exploring human identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage. I am grateful to all those who have taken part in these conversations, and for all who have supported this process in their prayers. This process has not been without cost to many of us, and I am deeply thankful for the honesty and careful listening that has taken place.
Bishop Helen-Ann and I fully share in the apology made by all the bishops to everyone in the LGBTQI+ community who have experienced rejection and hurt from the church over many years – our lack of love, grace and understanding is to our shame.
We acknowledge that the outcomes of Living in Love and Faith are a compromise, and that some will feel that they go too far, whilst others believe they do not go far enough. This reflects the differences that we live with as a Church, and as a Diocese, and it also reflects our commitment to continue on this journey together.
We commend the materials that have been provided, and encourage you to take time to study them. They include draft Prayers of Love and Faith, which offer a range of ways to enable those called to stable, committed, faithful relationships - which may be expressed through a same-sex marriage, a civil partnership, a covenanted friendship, or a call to singleness, to publicly and prayerfully place themselves and their relationship within a commitment to following Jesus Christ.
I am aware that some may feel hurt, angry, or uncertain, following the announcement made by the College of Bishops, and would appreciate a conversation with me about the issues that this has raised. If so, please do be in touch with my PA, Elena Rose Crawford firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange that.
Yesterday’s epistle contained Paul’s appeal to unity ‘by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 1.10), I have no doubt that then, as now, that appeal was made in the face of deep division. Let’s continue to pray for each other in our differences that we might be enabled to journey together in Christ by the grace and power of his Holy Spirit.
Please also keep in your prayers, Bishop Helen-Ann and all those who serve the church on General Synod which meets at the start of February and will debate these issues further.
Grace and peace