Bishop of Maidstone’s letter to evangelical parishes in response to the civil partnership statement fallout

4
1070

Bishop Rod sent this letter on 31st January, 2020 to incumbents of all evangelical resolution churches:

Dear Partners in Ministry

I thought I should write following the statement that was issued after the conclusion of the College of Bishops yesterday. The statement can be found here

My understanding at the College was that the statement was needed for two reasons. First, it was felt that the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples which had been released on 22nd January was pastorally insensitive in the way it was framed and released to the press. Secondly, there was concern that as a result, some of the necessary participation in the discussions which will follow the publication of the Living in Love and Faith materials could be jeopardised. Yesterday’s statement therefore apologised for the release of the Pastoral Statement.

However, it was also my clear understanding that nothing in yesterday’s statement should be taken as a retraction of the doctrinal teaching of the Church of England on marriage and sexual relationships. While some of that teaching may well come into question during the discussions about the LLF materials, it remains the current teaching of the Church. The position set out in the Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships for Opposite Sex Couples, and which was agreed by the House of Bishops, therefore continues to apply.

While I understand many of the concerns that were expressed at the College, I had the opportunity to say that for many faithful Anglicans the Pastoral Statement of 22nd January came as a great encouragement.  I was keen to establish that the apology did not relate to the doctrinal position it articulated.

I am conscious that many of you will remain concerned about these developments. Please be assured that together with other bishops, I will continue to make clear my commitment to the historic, biblical teaching of the Church. I hope most of you know that I don’t take part in social media discussions, but if you want to pursue any of this with me, there will be an opportunity to do so at our forthcoming regional conferences.

With every good wish in Christ

Rod Thomas
Bishop of Maidstone