Since 2017, the Church of England has been exploring how identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage fit within the good news of Jesus Christ. Find out more about Living in Love and Faith and where the Church of England sits currently on that journey, on the national Church of England website.
Following the publication on 20 January 2023 of the College of Bishop’s proposals to be considered by General Synod, Bishop Paul and Bishop Sarah issued this message:
As you know, since 2017 the Church of England has been exploring issues around identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage through ‘Living in Love and Faith’ and many of you have engaged in this process. One of the issues explored has been whether same sex couples should be allowed to marry in a Church of England church. You will have seen in the media this week the proposals being put forward to General Synod by the College of Bishops. Today, the official communication of the proposals has been made available - please click here. We recognise that some of you will think these proposals have gone too far, while others will think they have not gone far enough. This has been difficult and at times painful for those on all sides of the debate.
We wholeheartedly share in the apology made to those from the LGBTQI+ communities who have often been badly treated by the church over many years. Under the new proposals we sincerely hope that all churches will be places that welcome same-sex couples joyfully. The proposals being presented to General Synod will not permit same sex couples to marry in church, but for the first time they would be able to come to church to have their civil marriage blessed and receive God’s blessing. It is important to say that the prayers to be made available are voluntary for clergy to use and that the Church’s understanding of Holy Matrimony remains as between one man and one woman.
Having been part of this long discussion process, we believe the proposals offer the best compromise we could have hoped for. We have been deeply encouraged by the College of Bishops, in which deep disagreements are held, where everyone has worked hard to reach a position that a majority of the bishops support. We encourage you to look at the actual papers being presented to the Synod, not simply the media summaries that are circulating. We realise some will wish to discuss the proposals with us and we will happily arrange this after General Synod has undertaken all its work.
We must focus now on bringing everyone together, from all sides of the debate, to ensure that all feel valued, loved and welcomed.
Please continue to hold us, General Synod and the whole church in your prayers.
+Paul and +Sarah