Author(s)Church Society
Date 22 May 2023

Three working groups are meeting to look at aspects of the bishops' proposals concerning the Prayers of Love and Faith: one to revise the prayers, one to work on the accompanying pastoral guidance, and the third to consider 'pastoral reassurance' for those who are unable to use the prayers on grounds of godly conscience. There are so many unanswered questions in the initial proposals that Church Society have compiled a lengthy list for the working groups to consider. This was submitted last week, and can be downloaded here. Some of these may be useful questions to consider in Diocesan Synods, meetings with local bishops, or in writing to your own General Synod representatives and others.

The purpose of the submission is explained in its introduction:

Church Society sponsors a number of networks of evangelical laity, ordinands and clergy, and through the work of their regional directors is in contact with a large number of incumbents. The Church Society Trust is patron of well over one hundred parishes, and our journal is globally Anglican in reach and authorship.

Given all of this, we felt that it would be helpful if we were to provide a summary of the issues and fears which have been discussed with us following the decision of the February 2023 Synod. The aim is to be of service to the three groups and to give a voice to some who are fearful of raising these issues themselves.

This is not to rehearse any of the arguments surrounding the blessings of those in same-sex relationships, but simply an attempt to help the three working parties gain a good understanding of the mood of the Evangelical constituency as they complete their work. The hope is that the fuller the engagement, the more trust clergy and laity can have in the outcome.

This, then, is a simple listing of questions we commonly hear which we have grouped into a number of sections. We suggest no answers – that would be to tread on the toes of the working groups – but do hope our contribution might be of use to them as they undertake their task.

Work on this paper was begun on the day we mark the English Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation Era (4th May). The collect for that day contains the prayer: “grant that those who have been divided on earth may be reconciled inheaven”. As we regretfully recognise our division, we continue to pray for reconciliation in the Church of England. In particular, those serving on the three Working Groups remain in our prayers.