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New board created to support Bishop Snow in leading Living in Love and Faith process

11 April 2024

Geoff Crawford/Church Times

Bishop Snow addresses the Synod in February

Bishop Snow addresses the Synod in February

THE Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Martyn Snow, who is leading the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) implementation process, is to be supported by a new “programme board”, chaired by the Archbishop of York, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Bishop Snow was one of two lead bishops for the process until the Bishop of Newcastle, Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, stood down, referring to “serious concerns” about the way in which a new theological adviser to the House of Bishops had been appointed (News, 1 February).

Efforts to find her replacement were unsuccessful; so a new approach was considered in which, instead of co-lead bishops, a board would support the work.

Most of its membership has now been announced, although one episcopal member is still to be appointed. Archbishop Cottrell will be joined by the Bishop of Stockport, the Rt Revd Sam Corley; the Bishop of Taunton, the Rt Revd Ruth Worsley, currently the Acting Bishop of Coventry; and the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley.

In addition, the chair and the co-chair of the General Synod’s House of Laity, Dr Jamie Harrison and Alison Coulter, and the clergy Prolocutors, the Ven. Luke Miller and the Revd Kate Wharton, will serve as ex-officio members.

Three working groups for aspects of the LLF process are also being convened, to discuss the pastoral guidance; the trialling of stand-alone services of blessing for same-sex couples; and provision for opponents (News, 8 March). The membership of these groups is yet to be announced. It is understood that they have not yet met.

After the announcement of the membership of the board, a new umbrella LGBT+ campaigning organisation,Together (News, 28 February), released a statement. It said: “The leadership of Archbishop Stephen [Cottrell] gives us confidence that there is a real will to make progress,” and praised Bishop Snow’s “readiness to work with all parties to seek agreement on how to proceed”.

The statement urges the Bishops to proceed with trials of stand-alone services, as voted for by the Synod in November (News, 15 November 2023), “with all haste”, and “interpreting the Canons pastorally rather than legalistically”.

“We know of many couples who wish to celebrate their love in the sight of God, and who are waiting,” the statement says. It also calls for “an end to the present hypocritical regime” barring same-sex civil marriage to the clergy.

On any settlement for opponents of the changes, the statement says: “We look forward to a continued dialogue in which only the minimum necessary separation is made between churches, clergy and bishops within the one Church of England to allow conscientious freedom.”

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