The Church of England’s bishops are staring defeat in the face at November’s General Synod over a holding motion on services of blessing for same-sex couples.
The Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, is due to move the motion on behalf of the 53-member House of Bishops on November 14, the second day of the Synod meeting in London.
In February the Synod voted in favour of the new services, called Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF), after the extensive Living in Love and Faith (LLF) consultation on marriage, sexuality and gender, which the bishops launched across the C of E in 2017.
But in October the House of Bishops meeting in private session voted by a narrow margin to delay the implementation of stand-alone PLF services until a Synod vote in 2025, which would require a two-thirds majority. The bishops feared legal challenges if they had authorised the services this year on their sole authority.
They announced that clergy would soon be able to use the new liturgy in existing services, such as Morning and Evening Prayer and Holy Communion. But clergy would only be allowed to use the prayers as part of a service.
Bishop Mullally’s motion proposes that Synod “conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides feel pain at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023”. The motion also proposes that Synod “encourage the House to continue its work of implementation”.
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