Ad Clerum - November 2023

Beloved in Christ,

As bishops of the Diocese of Lichfield we write to you now about the recent debate in General Synod regarding ‘Living in Love and Faith’.

At the November meeting of General Synod this amended motion was carried:

‘That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides are being deeply hurt at this time, recognises the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faithpassed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, encourage the House to continue its work of implementation, and ask the House to consider whether some standalone services for same-sex couples could be made available for use, possibly on a trial basis, on the timescale envisaged by the motion passed by the Synod in February 2023.’

Bishop Matthew, Bishop Jonathan and I wholeheartedly welcome this decision. We obviously do not speak for Bishop Michael, as he is currently on sabbatical. We also recognise that for many it has caused deep pain.

For some, you have felt this decision is an assault on biblical authority, the nature of marriage and the proper expression of sexual intimacy. In some cases, it has caused you to question your future in the Church of England and wonder whether the tradition that has nurtured you in the faith is still welcomed or honoured amongst us. As bishops, we want to assure you that it is, and that we are always open to a pastoral conversation with any for whom the Synod decision has caused distress in this way.

For some in the LGBTQ+ community, the recent debate in Synod has caused hurt for different reasons. You have felt that you have been considered by some to be a “problem” or an “issue” and not as a child of God, seeking to live out a faithful Christian life. The outcome of the Synod debate might feel like “crumbs from the table.” We want to offer you the same opportunity to meet with us for a pastoral conversation, if this would be helpful to you.

As bishops, we too have felt the pain of disunity. Like many of you, we have endured sleepless nights and wondered what the future has in store for the Church.

But we have more in common than our hurt and pain. We have in common a love for Jesus and a desire to serve him in the world.

We turn to face the cross and look upon the one who bore the sin of the world to set us free. Christ on the cross who sees us and breaks down the barriers between us.

And we turn to our community of the beloved in Christ and ask that we may have the grace to see Christ in the face of one another. We cannot say that we don’t need each other - it will be together, with our differences, that we will be the body of Christ, his Church.

And we turn again to face outwards to the world for which Jesus died and for which there is a pressing need for a Church that is committed to sharing the good news of God’s love in Christ.


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