Bishops at the Lambeth Conference today discussed the Human Dignity Call, which has been the subject of significant attention since the detail of each Lambeth Call was published shortly before the Conference started.
The discussion was dignified and respect for differing views was shown during the session, following opening remarks from Archbishop Justin Welby, which can be read here. Bishops were not asked to give verbal feedback on the Call, but spent time discussing the Call in small groups. No vote was taken, and the meeting was concluded in silent prayer.
In his speech, Archbishop Justin referred to Provinces of the Anglican Communion where equal marriages take place, saying: “They have not arrived lightly at their ideas that traditional teaching needs to change. They are not careless about scripture. They do not reject Christ. But they have come to a different view on sexuality after long prayer, deep study and reflection on understandings of human nature.”
He went on to confirm that: “The Call also states that other provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union or marriage, after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. In that way, it states the reality of life in the Communion today.”
Interviewed after the session, Bishop Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “Thank you to those who’ve kept us very clearly working towards wherever we end up on these issues. My sincere apologies to all who have been hurt over these past few weeks.
“Tonight I feel a burden lifted of what might happen at this conference and determined that we continue to be an example of diversity, and an example of enabling people with differing opinions to remain part of the same Church.”
All members of the College of Bishops have now given their backing to a joint statement, shared with others at Lambeth, following recent debate over the Human Dignity Call:
“So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” – Ephesians 2:19
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” – John 13:34
God is Love! This love revealed by Jesus, witnessed to in the Scriptures and proclaimed by the Church, is Good News for all, without exception. The Bible teaches us that LGBT+ people are a precious part of God’s creation, for each of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139.14) and each of us is equally loved.
We recognise that many LGBT+ people have been wounded by the Church throughout history, and particularly by the events of the last few weeks. We affirm the holiness of their love in committed relationships wherever it may be found.
We commit to working with our siblings across the Communion to listen to their stories and understand their contexts, which vary greatly. We will never shy away from opposing discrimination and prejudice against beloved children of God on the basis of their sexualities and gender identities.
Together, we will proclaim healing and hope to our broken world and pray for the day when the Church will truly welcome, value and affirm all the people of God.