The Church of England has released the following Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process:
“Statement following conclusion of Shared Conversations Process
12 July 2016
Over the last 2 days members of General Synod have met in an informal setting in which they have listened and been heard as they have reflected together on scripture and a changing culture in relation to their understanding of human sexuality.
Throughout these conversations, deep convictions have been shared and profound differences better understood. The Shared Conversations over the last two years now come to a conclusion with over 1300 members of the church directly involved. It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us.
In comments to members of Synod at the end of the Shared Conversations the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
“At the heart of it is to come back to the fact that together we seek to serve the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and in whom there is never despair, there is never defeat; there is always hope, there is always overcoming; there is always eventual triumph, holiness, goodness and grace.
That is for me what I always come back to when it all seems overwhelming.
Thank you so much for your participation. Let us go in confidence. Confident in the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.”
We will add links to other comments as they become available.
The CofE’s Statement was preceded by one from the LGBTI Mission: LGBTI Mission calls on Church of England to move forward following completion of Shared Conversations. Simon Sarmiento, Chair of the LGBTI Mission said: “Now is the time to move forward and take action. Church leaders and LGBTI church members, of all convictions, need to work together to devise answers to these problems. We now have an opportunity to change the way that LGBTI people are treated in the Church. A good start would be to have a staff member funded to co-ordinate work in this area and show that the national Church is serious about change.”
Two specific examples of other urgent issues are:
- There is a Blackburn Diocesan Synod Motion awaiting General Synod debate, which asks the Church to improve its welcome to Transgender people and for the House of Bishops to recommend suitable rites and prayers to mark their transition journeys. Debate on this was recently deferred a second time. We urge the bishops to endorse that motion and to ensure it is debated without further delay.
- An issue not requiring synodical action is the current ban on clergy entering same-sex civil marriage, contained in paragraph 27 of the House’s February 2014 Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. The widely inconsistent application of this has brought the Church into serious disrepute. It must be reconsidered urgently.
The report continues:
“Media reports suggest the bishops may revive the 2013 Pilling Report recommendation to allow clergy who wish to do so to “mark the formation of a permanent same-sex relationship in a public service” but only as a “pastoral accommodation” without authorizing any formal liturgy. This would be welcome as an interim step towards the long-term goal of enabling same-sex marriages in the Church of England. But the addition of approved liturgical forms would improve clarity and give clergy protection against unwanted disciplinary complaints”.
The article in the Church Times Synod members thanked for staying on to talk about their differences has comments from 11 members of General Synod, including: The Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain; The Dean of St Paul’s, the Very Revd David Ison; Jayne Ozanne; The Revd Dr Ian Paul, (link to his detailed comments below).
Background comment prior to the conclusion of the Shared Conversations was summarized in Thinking Anglicans Sexuality news and comment on Monday 11 July.
In Synod’s Shared Conversations, Ian Paul gives an in depth assessment of each of the session. He concludes: “It is not immediately clear where we go from here. There was a sense of frustration in our group that this could have been an opportunity to serious engage with the issues; many of us had been engaged in discussion on this and others issues with people with whom we disagreed …”.
Lucy Gorman, Synod Scoop: Shared thoughts from the Shared Conversations which concludes “What’s obvious for me is that throughout this process over the 48hrs was that we are no longer issues, we are people, and it feels like everyone is coming to understand that. We know as a Church that we can’t continue the way we have been. As someone said, now we have started this, we have to do something; we can’t just sit back and do nothing.”