This week the General Synod has passed a motion giving the House of Bishops a ‘green light’ to bring back to the July General Synod prayers that can be used to bless people in sexually active relationships outside of heterosexual marriage (it is likely that the July Synod will endorse them, after which they will become available for use in churches).
This decision now officially puts the Church of England on a trajectory contrary to Scripture and one rejects our historic understanding of sex and marriage and departs from the apostolic faith we are called to uphold.
We are very grateful to those members of General Synod including members of EGGS (the Evangelical Group on General Synod) and some of our bishops who spoke and voted to oppose this.
Our first response is one of deep sadness – and we ask you to join with us in lamenting before God this outcome. This decision is extremely distressing and will (if unchecked) negatively impact the ministry of our churches and everyday lives as we seek to contend for Jesus and share the gospel in our local communities.
We are glad that the General Synod was introduced to the idea of a ‘settlement’ (though it is vital that this does not involve any theological compromise) and continue to believe that this is only possible through the introduction of new, imaginative and differentiating structures.
We are now in a position where we have no choice other than to take action – because if we do not do so then it will be seen by the House of Bishops that we can (after all that we have said) live with these changes. It is clear that we cannot.
So in the next few days we will be in touch with you again, along with our Diocesan Evangelical Fellowships and the networks who are part of CEEC, to offer specific advice about what actions might be taken (and of course every church is different and so will need to take action appropriate to its local context). This advice will touch on issues of relationships with bishops (dis)engagement within your deanery and diocese, finance and new partnerships.
In the midst of all this turmoil, let’s not forget (even this weekend) Paul’s words to the Corinthian christians: ‘Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart’ (2 Corinthians 4:1).
Keith and John
Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, National Director
Revd Canon John Dunnett, Director of Strategy and Operations