DRAFTS of prayers and blessings for same-sex couples in church, and guidance on their use, are unlikely to be finalised at the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod in York, the newly published timetable suggests.
The Synod will meet at York University from Friday 7 July to Tuesday 11 July. Just one session over these five days — on the Saturday afternoon — has been set aside to discuss the proposals first set out by the Bishops in January, concluding years of discernment through the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process (News, 18 January).
A press release from Church House on Wednesday said that “the July meeting will include a substantial item on the proposals” — this may run for several hours. However, it also confirmed that a further group of sessions is to be held in November (13-15) in London to “provide an opportunity for Synod to consider any aspects of that work not completed by July”.
Since the proposals were approved by the Synod in London in February (News, 9 February), implementation groups have been established to refine the set of draft texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith, and work on new pastoral guidance on their use, as well as pastoral “reassurance” for clergy and laity who do not wish to offer these provisions.
In a joint statement, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, and the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, who co-chair the steering group overseeing the implementation groups (News, 3 May), said that these were “working at pace and are making good progress”.
“We hope that work to refine the texts of Prayers of Love and Faith, together with aspects of the work of the Pastoral Guidance and Pastoral Reassurance groups, will be in place before the meeting of Synod in York in July.
“We will be bringing a report to Synod updating in more detail on the progress that has been made. Recognising the complexity of the matters being considered, we anticipate that time could be made available at the November meeting of Synod for any further work required.”
Other items on the agenda include a report from the National Investing Bodies on climate change; an item on safeguarding to include a presentation from the Independent Safeguarding Board (omitted from the previous Synod); and the first consideration of the Clergy Conduct Measure, which is to replace the Clergy Discipline Measure.