Synod's vote not to take note of the House of Bishops' report on Marriage and Same-Sex relationships means that the current law and discipline of the Church remain unchanged. As indeed they would have if note had been taken.
The debate gave me the opportunity to speak to Synod and my speech is copied below. You will see that I commit myself to explore to the maximum the freedom under the Church’s current law and guidance to offer rich and meaningful ministry to LGBTI+ people (see footnote)
, as indeed I have tried to do since I came to Liverpool.
I have no doubt that our further steps and conversations nationally will include LGBTI+ Christians more fully than the recent report was able to do. In my speech I use the phrase "maximum freedom", which is a phrase much used in the report. Since the report did not command the confidence of the Synod I do not propose to use that phrase now. Instead I use the phrase at the head of this bulletin, a phrase used by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in their letter written after the debate: “we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church.
In Liverpool we will pursue radical Christian inclusion within the law and guidance that we have. Any clergy or lay leaders reading this who wonder what that might mean in practice for LGBTI+ people in your churches are welcome to contact me or Bishop Richard so that we can map the landscape out together.
The Synod's decision has been variously reported in the media, and I myself was involved in interviews in which the Church and its bishops were accused of being institutionally homophobic. I deny that accusation passionately and state, as clearly as I can, that our welcome and inclusion needs to reflect that of Jesus Christ. All people, regardless of their age, gender, race, colour, social status or sexuality, are to be welcomed into all our churches with the welcome of Christ who was and is there for all.
I have been grateful to the many people who have contacted me over the past days with advice and with assurance of their prayers. Without those prayers, and without clear and respectful conversation right across the Church, we will not move forward well.
For me this Diocese is itself a shared conversation in all its life, one in which all voices need to be heard. So I ask all in our Diocesan community to continue to pray for one another, so that our faces together can reflect the face of Christ, and our minds in dialogue and mutual care may come to reflect the mind of Christ, and our lives can be lived still more fully and openly in the power of the Spirit.
The Rt Revd Paul Bayes
The Bishop of Liverpool
LGBTI+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersex and additional self-identifications. Some in the Diocese and the wider Church prefer to identify themselves as “same-sex attracted”. I believe that people should be free to use of themselves the language with which they are comfortable.