Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Recommendations of the Pilling Report

The Pilling Report has offered 18 recommendations to the House of Bishops of the Church of England on how it should address the issue of homosexuality.

1. We warmly welcome and affirm the presence and ministry within the Church of gay and lesbian people, both lay and ordained.

2. The subject of sexuality, with its history of deeply entrenched views on both sides, would best be addressed by facilitated conversations or a similar process to which the Church of England needs to commit itself at national and diocesan level.

3. Consultation on this report should be conducted without undue haste but with a sense of urgency, perhaps over a period of two years.

4. The Church of England should address the issue of same sex relationships in close dialogue with the wider Anglican Communion and other Churches, in parallel with its own facilitated conversations and on a similar timescale.

5. Homophobia – that is, hostility to homosexual people – is still as serious a matter as it was and the Church should repent for the homophobic attitudes it has sometimes failed to rebuke and should stand firmly against it whenever and wherever it is to be found.

6. No one should be accused of homophobia solely for articulating traditional Christian teaching on same sex relationships.

7. The Church should continue to pay close attention to the continuing, and as yet inconclusive, scientific work on same sex attraction.

8. Since Issues in Human Sexuality was published in 1991 attitudes to same sex attraction, both in English society generally and also among Christians in many parts of the world, have changed markedly. In particular, there is a great deal of evidence that, the younger people are, the more accepting of same sex attraction they are likely to be. That should not of itself determine the Church’s teaching.

9. The Church should continue to listen to the varied views of people within and outside the Church, and should encourage a prayerful process of discernment to help determine the relationship of the gospel to the cultures of the times.

10. The Church of England needs to recognize that the way we have lived out our divisions on same sex relationships creates problems for effective mission and evangelism within our culture, and that such problems are shared by some other Churches and in some other parts of the Anglican Communion. The Church of England also needs to recognize that any change to the Church’s stance in one province could have serious consequences for mission in some other provinces of the Communion.

11. Whilst abiding by the Church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality, we encourage the Church to continue to engage openly and honestly and to reflect theologically on the circumstances in which we find ourselves to discern the mind of Christ and what the Spirit is saying to the Church now.

12. Through a period of debate and discernment in relation to the gospel message in our culture, it is right that all, including those with teaching authority in the Church, should be able to participate openly and honestly in that process.

13. The Church needs to find ways of honouring and affirming those Christians who experience same sex attraction who, conscious of the Church’s teaching, have embraced a chaste and single lifestyle, and also those who in good conscience have entered partnerships with a firm intention of life-long fidelity.

14. The whole Church is called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to homosexual people in the past, and to demonstrate the unconditional acceptance and love of God in Christ for all people.

15. The Church’s present rules impose a different discipline on clergy and laity in relation to sexually active same sex relationships. In the facilitated conversations it will be important to reflect on the extent to which the laity and clergy should continue to observe such different disciplines.

16. We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant PCC, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service but hould be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage.

17. While the Church abides by its traditional teaching such public services would be of the nature of a pastoral accommodation and so the Church of England should not authorize a formal liturgy for use for this purpose. The House of Bishops should consider whether guidance should be issued.

18. Whether someone is married, single or in a civil partnership should have no bearing on the nature of the assurances sought from them that they intend to order their lives consistently with the teaching of the Church on sexual conduct. Intrusive questioning should be avoided.

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