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CEEC video The Beautiful Story ‘not intended to shut down’ sexuality dialogue, says Henderson

26 November 2020

GEOFF CRAWFORD/CHURCH TIMES

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, speaks at a meeting of the General Synod, at Church House, Westminster, in 2017

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, speaks at a meeting of the General Synod, at Church House, Westminster, in 2017

A VIDEO produced by the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), The Beautiful Story (News, 20 November), “is not intended to shut down or derail” conversations about sexuality, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Julian Henderson, has said.

The video, which was posted last week after the publication of the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) resources (News, 13 November), features contributions from Anglican Evangelicals who are opposed to any change to the Church’s teaching or practice on sexuality. In the video, Bishop Henderson says that, if the teaching or the practice of the Church did change as a result of the LLF process, “that may then lead to having to look for alternative solutions”

Bishop Henderson responded on Wednesday to criticism of the video. “Considering the points made in letters last week [Letters, 20 November), may I clarify the purpose of the CEEC film,” he said. “It is to give voice to the current teaching and practice of the Church of England and much of the Anglican Communion, to reveal the wide diversity of people who hold to that teaching, and to encourage confidence for all to engage fully with the Living in Love and Faith discernment process.

“It is not intended to shut down or derail the conversation, but to say it is a serious one, where the outcome, whatever that discernment may be, might have significant consequences for the whole Church. The CEEC film encourages the Church to engage with the faith uniquely revealed in the holy acriptures, in the way Jan McFarlane suggests, with ‘grace, humility and willingness to learn’.”

An article published on the CEEC website says: “We believe that The Beautiful Story will help Christian leaders work out how to progress the necessary conversations in their PCCs and with their congregations. Each local situation is different with different needs, but none can afford to bury these discussions in the hope that they will go away, because they won’t.

“But more important than that, we have a beautiful story that has to be told. It isn’t going to be easy, but it’s time to rediscover our confidence that what we have been given is for the life of the world. And now it is our turn to be faithful to what we have received.”

The article encourages Evangelical clergy to “set some dates in the New Year to show the film to groups within your church (eg PCC, ministry teams, small group leaders etc) and to lead a discussion thereafter.

“An accompanying set of notes will be made available via this page by the New Year to help you introduce the video to groups and to frame/lead a discussion.”

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