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Progressive CofE groups meet with bishops for next step in same-sex relationships debate

by Sophie Drew
Lambeth Palace.jpg - Banner image
Lambeth Palace

Representatives from eight progressive Church of England groups met with some bishops as part of the Living in Love and Faith process on Friday. 

The meetings came after a recent report revealing responses to the Living in Love and Faith resources showed that Anglicans want the House of Bishops to make a decision regarding same-sex marriage and partnerships "soon". 

The Living in Love and Faith process saw the Church of England examine the views of their churches to spur further discussions about the future of traditional church doctrine on same-sex relationships. 

The eight groups attending the meeting include the General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group, Inclusive Church, OneBodyOneFaith and The Ozanne Foundation, amongst others. 
They are hoping the Church of England will make a "radical new commitment" to LGBT+ inclusivity, including a ban on conversion therapy (which was previously agreed by the General Synod) and an "end to homophobic and transphobic teachings" which "underpin systemic abuse."

They are also campaigning for the Church of England to allow clergy to preside over same-sex marriages. 

The bishops who hosted the meetings are members of the Living in Love and Faith Next Steps group, and include Rt Rev Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, Rt Rev Bev Mason, Bishop of Warrington, Rt Rev Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev Dr Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London.

The panel will also include Dr Eeva John, the enabling officer for Living in Love and Faith. 

According to Changing Attitude England, a group for equality for LGBT+ people in the Church of England, the bishops said their aim is to "offer participants an opportunity to express hopes, insights and concerns regarding identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage."

At the Lambeth Conference in 2022, an event marred with discussions surrounding same-sex inclusivity in the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed the traditional Christian view on same-sex relations, affirming that Lambeth 1.10 - which describes marriage as between a man and a woman - was "not in doubt." However, he acknowledged that it was a deeply divise issue within the Anglican Communion. 

Rev Colin Coward MBE, founder of Changing Attitude England, and an attendee at the meetings in Lambeth Palace, said: "Our representatives will share our hopes and concerns and brief the bishops on our goals and expectations for the outcome of the Living in Love and Faith process. We will urge the bishops to commit the Church of England to achieve justice and equal status for LGBTQIA+ people when they present proposals to the General Synod in February 2023.

"We have repeatedly asked the bishops and Archbishops to define the content of the phrase 'radical new Christian inclusion'. This must include full equality in ministry and relationships for LGBTQIA+ people.

"Changing Attitude England values the comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the recent Lambeth Conference. For the first time he stated clearly that the Anglican Communion is deeply divided and that those on all sides of the division hold their beliefs and practices with Christian integrity, traditionalists and progressives alike.

"Archbishop Justin said that the minority who accept equal marriage 'have not arrived lightly at their ideas that traditional teaching needs to change. They are not careless about scripture. They do not reject Christ. But they have come to a different view on sexuality after long prayer, deep study and reflection on understandings of human nature.'"

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