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Orthodox ordinands urge Church of England bishops to 'preserve church doctrine' amidst anticipated approval of same-sex blessings

by Kelly Valencia

A group of 78 ordinands and clergy in training have written to the Church of England's House of Bishops to share their concern with the "current direction of travel concerning the Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF)".

The group, which they say spans ten training institutions and twenty-six dioceses, believes the introduction of the prayers would '"indicate a departure from the historic teaching of the Christian faith' and produce 'fracturing across the Church of England".

It is understood the letter was sent to the bishops before they reached their most recent decision to commend 'in principle' same-sex blessing prayers and announce a draft of the pastoral guidance will be presented to the General Synod next month. This decision caused widespread discontent among those against and those favoring same-sex prayers.

For the group, the prayers and potential new pastoral guidance accompanying it will leave them "feeling vulnerable and concerned".

They wrote: "We are united in our belief that the PLF and accompanying response from the Bishops about identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage (20th January 2023) indicate a departure from the historic teachings of the Christian faith.

"The faith we have inherited through the word of God and the articles, formularies, and liturgies of the Church of England is precious to us. We, including those among us for whom same-sex attraction is a live issue, rejoice in Jesus' clear and life-giving teaching on matters of sex and marriage.

"Our name 'Orthodox Ordinands' reflects our shared desire to live out this historic teaching and support one another in following Christ's call."

They further argued that the decisions already taken during the Living in Love and Faith process have already shown 'early signs of damage in the reduced numbers going forward for ordained ministry' and highlighted the uncertainty many orthodox ordinands face.

"The fact that many signing this letter wanted to do so privately illustrates the vulnerability experienced by orthodox ordinands, candidates, and curates within the church. We expect this uncertainty to increase if the prayers are introduced and have serious concerns about the impact for orthodox laity and clergy alike.

"We long for the Church of England to stand firm on the word of God and in the faith inherited. Please lead us in this. We hope that you hear the cost of PLF for our generation of ordinands and future ordinands too," it continued.

The letter concluded with a plea for bishops to "do nothing that will undermine the doctrine of the church' and asked for the 'Prayers of Love and Faith not to be brought into use".

The General Synod meets next month.

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