A set of "commitments" is poised to reset the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) debate, forming the basis for the next phase of the Church of England's process on sexuality, relationships, and marriage.
These commitments, to be discussed at the upcoming General Synod, include calls for transparency, reconciliation, freedom of conscience, and humility and repentance.
Following the commendation of the Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) last year, allowing clergy to bless same-sex couples in existing church services, a debate has intensified on existing doctrinal divisions.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Bishop Martyn Snow, co-chair of the Living in Love and Faith group, expressed hope that these commitments would "begin the process for finding a settlement."
However, he underscored that they are not "set in stone" and "will require further detail," urging a new tone for debates as the Church pursues the implementation of prior motions on LLF.
One commitment addresses the experimental standalone services for PLF, which was narrowly approved in the November Synod last year. It emphasises the Church's commitment "to the experimental use of standalone services of PLF, with legal protection and support for those who opt-in to using them as well as those who don't." This is contingent on having Pastoral Guidance and Pastoral Reassurance ready for use before "enabling the use of the standalone PLF".
As part of this, Synod members will receive an outline of routes for authorising standalone Prayers of Love and Faith and insights into the legal challenges associated with each canonical procedure.
Moreover, the commitments will require further consideration at a later Synod date. They also clarify that, at least until the end of this Synod's tenure in 2026, the discussion of same-sex marriage will not take place. Instead, the aim is for the Synod to draw lessons "from the use of the PLF and allow General Synod to decide when and if to begin any discussions about same-sex marriage."
Bishop Martyn concluded: "Simply proceeding by narrow majorities with votes being won by simply one or two votes, will leave us with serious problems in the years to come. So what we need as a Church now is to build a space for reconciliation, and the rebuilding of trust. Such that reconciliation with God in Jesus Christ is shown in our reconciliation with one another."
General Synod will take place from 23rd Feb to 27th February.