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New LLF-group members to gather in hotel for talks

08 May 2024

Proposals are due to be brought to the July meeting of the General Synod

Geoff Crawford/Church Times

Members of the General Synod meeting in London in February

Members of the General Synod meeting in London in February

THE names of members of the groups charged with suggesting solutions to the current impasse in the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process have been released, as they prepare for a residential meeting this weekend.

The groups will spend three days together, staying in a hotel in Leicester. The following weekend, the House of Bishops will meet to decide what recommendations to take forward to a meeting of the College of Bishops in June, before proposals are brought to the July meeting of the General Synod.

The process is being led by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, assisted by a “programme board” of bishops and ex-officio lay members (News, 12 April).

A group discussing the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith, which were commended by the bishops in December (News, 15 December 2023), will consider how provision might be made for their use in stand-alone services.

In November, the Synod narrowly voted to trial such services, but so far there has been no information about how or when this might happen. A formal process of synodical authorisation is also expected to take place.

The membership of this group includes the Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, who is currently the Acting Bishop of Coventry, and the Bishop of Lichfield, Dr Michael Ipgrave. The other members are listed as the Ven. Malcolm Chamberlain, Sammi Tooze, the Revd Mike Tufnell, the Revd Mark Miller, Canon Rachel Firth, the Revd Adam Gaunt, Kenson Li, and Julie Withers.

The group discussing the contents of new pastoral guidance to replace Issues in Human Sexuality comprises the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Sam Corley; the Bishop of Dorking, the Rt Revd Paul Davies; Dr Neill Burgess, Dr Ben Fulford, the Ven. Dr Rachel Mann, the Revd Dr Jo Winn-Smith, the Revd Lis Goddard, David Hermitt, the Ven. Douglas Dettmer, Dr Nick Land, the Revd Neil Patterson, and the Ven. Luke Irvine-Capel.

The new pastoral guidance is expected to allow clergy and lay ministers to enter into a same-sex civil marriage. Last October, the Church Times revealed that a majority of bishops were in favour of a removal of the current bar (News, 27 October 2023).

The third group will discuss what measures should be put in place for those who oppose the changes. The episcopal members of the group are Bishop Snow, the Bishop of Hull, Dr Eleanor Sanderson, and the former Bishop of Kensington Dr Graham Tomlin.

The other members are the Very Revd Joe Hawes, Canon John Dunnett, Tom Middleton, the Ven. Sally Gaze, Sam Wilson, Julie Dziegiel, the Revd Dr Sean Doherty, Rosemary Wilson, and the Ven. Nikki Groarke.

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), an umbrella organisation for several conservative Evangelical groups in the C of E, is asking people to pray for the C of E this weekend.

The CEEC has produced resources, available on its website, which includes “prayer pointers” as well as a collect. The latter thanks God “for the gift of marriage as a sign of your love for the church and as the proper and intended place for sexual intimacy”.

The pointers suggest that prayers should be said for the members of the three groups engaged who will be meeting in Leicester, and for the membership of the Bishops and Archbishops.

The CEEC also suggests that supporters “pray for an outcome to the present deliberations that provides a secure, permanent and legal settlement for orthodox believers to remain in the C of E”.

A further section advises intercessors to avoid “overly specific prayers for the outcome of the process”.

Intercessors are advised to “take care with the words you use so as not to upset or offend those who may hold differing views to you in your congregation”, and suggests that the contents of the prayers should be acceptable to everyone, “regardless of their views on LLF”.

The prayer pointers contain an invitation to prayer for the “various bodies that are responding to this situation”, listing a number of groups which have publicly opposed the introduction of the Prayers of Love and Faith.

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