DESPITE the pandemic, the group managing the Living in Love and Faith process believes that it is on track to present a firm set of recommendations to the General Synod in November next year.
Living in Love and Faith (LLF) is both a book and a process of discerning the Church’s mind on matters of identity and sexuality, in particular attitudes to same-sex relations and transgender issues, and how to respond to requests for same-sex weddings in church, currently not allowed.
When the book was published last November (News, 9 November 2020), the plan was for diocesan groups to spend 2021 discussing its content, These discussions would inform the House of Bishops about future policy and also lay the ground for the reception of that policy. Despite the pandemic, the Next Steps group, comprising 11 bishops and chaired by the Bishop of London, has met 11 times since June 2020.
A report to be presented to the General Synod in a fortnight’s time says that, by July, approximately 5500 people will have participated in an LLF event. Each diocese has at least one LLF Advocate — 69 have been appointed in total — and 9000 people have registered on the LLF learning hub.
The period of “church-wide engagement; designing, gathering, analysing and summarising feedback; episcopal listening and reflection; and ecclesiological work and interaction with church-wide findings” lasts till January 2022, at the end of which the College of Bishops and the General Synod will reflect on the initial findings.
The House of Bishops will meet in May 2022 to reflect on the implications of the findings, and then the Synod will interrogate these reflections in July. In September, the whole College of Bishops will reflect some more, this time on “recommendations that have been shaped by General Synod engagement”. Finally, in November, the Synod will consider firm proposals from the House of Bishops.