Modern Church responds to the Lambeth calls controversy

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Last week, we enjoyed a fabulous, inclusive and welcoming Conference – Living in Faith, Hope and Love – which brought together a range of speakers to cover much of what the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith project missed. If you didn’t manage to attend conference, which had to move online due to the climate crisis, then we will be releasing some video recordings in the coming weeks – stay tuned and make sure you are subscribed to the blog.

After such a heartening, affirming environment of healthy discussion about gender, sexuality, marriage and much more besides, we were swiftly brought back to reality by the shock inclusion of the Lambeth Conference’s ‘Call’ to reaffirm what is known as Lambeth 1.10: “that upholds marriage as between a man and a woman.” Even worse, the digital voting devices on whether or not to reaffirm this call included only two options: ‘yes’ and ‘this call requires further discernment’. The calls were released just days before Bishops were due to arrive at Lambeth, and seems to have blind-sided many in a move described as ‘bait and switch’. Suddenly, the first meeting of the conference in years was to reopen a deeply divisive issue in the Anglican Communion, leaving LGBTQI+ Christians once again stranded in a shock move that massively undermines the Church of England’s Living in Love process, which is only now moving into its ‘Next Steps’ phase.

A ripple of outrage has spread through many in the Anglican community. First, Twitter was aflame, then statements began appearing from bishops attending the conference and now we are in the incredible position where the bishop responsible for this section of the Lambeth Calls claims it was never included in any draft of their section of the document. As expected, the Church Times has covered the story, which is now making its way into the pages of the Guardian and other newspapers. Bishops across the world are speaking out and, finally, the Lambeth Conference Twitter account announced that its working group is convening to discuss the offending article. We await the results with bated breath but what is already clear

It is clear that many in the LGBTQI+ community feel once again let down, betrayed and reduced to a political talking point. Even worse, many had begun to let their guard down and have engaged, and endorsed, the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith project, only to feel that this work has been written off as the Bishops meet to discuss a deeply hurtful resolution from 24 years ago.

We, and many of our wonderful partner organisations, have been vocal – writing to bishops, tweeting and releasing a joint statement, signed by Prof. Elaine Graham, Chair of Modern Church Council (see below) condemning this needless and hurtful bungling by the Archbishop of Canterbury at a time when we had just, just begun to let our guards down.

P.s. we will add in references in due course.