A NEW course has been produced to kick-start parish debates about Living in Love and Faith (LLF), the C of E’s discussion document on sexuality.
LLF was published on 9 November (News, 30 October 2020, 13 November 2020), and 2021 was set aside for discussions about it at all levels of the Church, preparatory to debates in the General Synod and the House of Bishops about whether to alter the Church’s practices and teaching about homosexuality.
An episcopal Next Steps group, chaired by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, was formed to allay the fears of many that the process was simply another means of postponing decisions on such topics as same-sex marriage in church. They have written: “Engagement will need to be during 2021 so that processes of discernment and decision-making can take place in 2022.”
The pandemic has inhibited most attempts at discussion, but there is anecdotal evidence, too, of a reluctance on the part of both liberals and conservatives to engage in discussions about personal matters with others who are perceived to be hostile.
To counter this, on Tuesday, Church House Publishing launched a new five-session course to examine the “pastoral principles for living well together” which were identified by the LLF steering group (Comment, 6 November, 2020).
The pastoral principles are:
- acknowledge prejudice
- speak into silence
- address ignorance
- cast out fear
- admit hypocrisy
- pay attention to power.
The course includes accompanying videos. Each session includes Bible notes, discussion topics, and material for prayer and worship. The publishers’ notes suggest that the course has a wider application than just the LLF discussions: “The course can be used to explore particular topics about which there is disagreement, or used simply as a means of enabling churches to become communities that live more fully in the way of Christ.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury has called the course “a vital tool for equipping individuals and churches to play their part in living well together within the diversity of our church communities and the wider communities in which we live”.
Print copies of the course booklet are available from Church House Publishing for £2.99, or six for £15. It can also be found here and at the Pastoral Advisory Group webpage, churchofengland.org/PAG, where the videos are located.