The Church of England’s College of Bishops met in London over the past two days to pray and discuss progress on implementing the recent decision of General Synod on sexuality and marriage.
Bishops heard detailed updates on the work of the three implementation groups set up following the Synod debate which considered proposals to offer prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and for God’s blessing for same-sex couples.
Meeting both in small groups and in joint session, the bishops reviewed progress made on refining a set of texts, known as Prayers of Love and Faith, which could be offered in Churches voluntarily.
They also engaged with questions to be considered by the implementation group developing new pastoral guidance. And they discussed what pastoral reassurance could be required to ensure freedom of conscience for clergy and laity when the Prayers of Love and Faith come into use.
The meeting of the College, which includes all the serving bishops of the Church of England, did not take any formal decisions but provided feedback to inform the ongoing work of the implementation groups.
The House of Bishops, which is made up of diocesan bishops and some others, met at the end of the meeting of the College and formally agreed to bring an update on the progress made to Synod which next meets in July in York.
- At its meeting in February, Synod approved a motion to “lament and repent” of the failure of the Church to welcome LGBTQI+ people and for the harm that LGBTQI+ people have experienced – and continue to experience – in churches.
- That motion also detailed proposals which would, for the first time, enable same-sex couples to come to church following a civil marriage or civil partnership for prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and for God’s blessing on the two people.
- The proposals would not change the Church’s doctrine of Holy Matrimony.
- The use of Prayers of Love and Faith would be voluntary, with protections both for those who, on grounds of conscience, will not be able to offer them and for those who will.