At their meeting on October 9th the House of Bishops agreed to commend the prayers and readings in Prayers of Love and Faith for use in public worship. They will also bring special services set out in Prayers of Love and Faith to General Synod in November. Synod will be asked to decide whether to authorise them under Canon B2 after consultation with dioceses. They also said there is more work being carried out to look at further pastoral reassurance and structural pastoral provision to make sure everyone’s conscience is respected.
Bishop John comments
“The House of Bishops has prayerfully considered all aspects of this conversation as we continue in our desire to bring everyone on this journey. We recognise that some are impatient for change and want greater movement while others see this change as a moment for concern. And there are many who earnestly wish that the church focuses on the other work we need to do to bring God’s love to a broken and troubled world.
I am also concerned about the hurt and pain that many feel as this conversation continues. I know of many LGBTQIA+ people and their closest family and friends who have found this very demanding. So, as we continue to work to settle this conversation we must be kind to one another. For if we cannot show kindness and gentleness to each other then what witness are we offering to the wider society? How can we preach God’s love if we don’t show it to one another?
That’s why I am grateful that more work is being carried out to provide pastoral reassurance that the conscience of everyone will be respected. I certainly want to see that in our diocese. I have noted that Liverpool can have open, gracious and loving conversations in this regard and I want to see that continue.
We must also be patient and trust in the processes that God has given us to govern the church. There will be some among us eager to use the Prayers of Love and Faith. You will need to wait for the details and guidance notes and the formal commendation for this. These are prayers for God’s blessing upon same-sex couples. The provision to pray for same-sex couples already exists and what is commended is a suit of prayers that could be used for that purpose.
The liturgies which are for General Synod to decide upon will be for a blessing on a civil marriage or partnership and therefore it is right and proper that these matters are decided upon at General Synod.
We remain on a difficult journey, yet we know that God is with us on these difficult journeys and we trust in the Lord for us and for the church. I am here for any of our worshipping communities who need support and conversation at this time.
We must not let this consume us. We have the great work that churches across our diocese are doing in introducing people to Jesus, developing their faith and working for justice. This is what we are called to and what we must remain working to in the strength and love of the Holy Spirit. Our communities, our diocese needs this work and faithful witness and I thank you and pray for you in this and all matters”