After the latest Bishop’s report on sexuality was voted down at the General Synod of the Church of England, Archbishops Welby and Sentamu offer a path forward for future dialogue.
The way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.
Nevertheless while the principles are straightforward, putting them into practice, as we all know, is not, given the deep disagreements among us.
We are therefore asking first for every Diocesan Bishop to meet with their General Synod members for an extended conversation in order to establish clearly the desires of every member of Synod for the way forward.
As Archbishops we will be establishing a Pastoral Oversight group led by the Bishop of Newcastle, with the task of supporting and advising Dioceses on pastoral actions with regard to our current pastoral approach to human sexuality. The group will be inclusive, and will seek to discern the development of pastoral practices, within current arrangements.
Secondly, we, with others, will be formulating proposals for the May House of Bishops for a large scale teaching document around the subject of human sexuality. In an episcopal church a principal responsibility of Bishops is the teaching ministry of the church, and the guarding of the deposit of faith that we have all inherited. The teaching document must thus ultimately come from the Bishops. However, all episcopal ministry must be exercised with all the people of God, lay and ordained, and thus our proposals will ensure a wide ranging and fully inclusive approach, both in subject matter and in those who work on it.
We will also be suggesting to the Business Committee a debate in general terms on the issues of marriage and human sexuality. We wish to give the General Synod an opportunity to consider together those things we do affirm.
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Secretary of the AnglicanConsultative Council commented on the vote.
The secretary general was addressing Synod in London the day after it rejected a report from the House of Bishops on marriage and sexuality. He told the meeting he knew the issue of same-sex marriage was highly emotive and any decision they took would leave some disappointed and wounded.
He said that in his home nation of Nigeria the single most pressing issue around human sexuality was the criminalisation of homosexuality.
“The struggle for the legal, social, spiritual and physical safety of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is our issue in Nigeria and other places in Africa,” he said. “The prophetic task for African Anglicans is to denounce violence… that (is) supported by members of our communities and leadership. This is about changing attitudes and we need the space to do this work on our own.”
Reflecting on Wednesday’s vote he added: “I pray that your decision may be received in such a way by the provinces of the Anglican Communion that will help our equally vital agenda to change attitudes that will make people safe.”
Take Note Debate Voted Down
Inclusive Church in partnership with the General Synod Human Sexuality Group shares this press release in response to the General Synod vote in February 2017.
“We are pleased and relieved that General Synod have heard our concerns, and voted NOT to Take Note. This means that we can now look at new ways of working together to produce a fresh approach to how we embrace and celebrate the lives and loves of LGBTI people. We hope that the Church of England will now be more honest about the diversity of views that are sincerely held on this issue, so that we can look at how we might best present an inclusive vision of the Body of Christ to the nation.
We are particularly grateful that both the Chair and the Vice Chair of the Bishops’ Reflections Group (the Rt Revd Graham James and the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent) have acknowledged and apologised for the pain that this report had caused so many of us.”
Jayne Ozanne and Giles Goddard, Chair of Human Sexuality Group