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Prayers of Love and Faith... in the words of the members

For over nine hours on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 15th November 2023, the General Synod of the Church of England debated whether or not it was appropriate to introduce Prayers of Love and Faith (to be used in regular services) and experimental liturgy for standalone services - both with the intention of blessing those in same-sex relationships.

These snippets give a flavour of the debate - and they can each be seen in context on the recording of the livestream.

The debate began on Tuesday afternoon, with six 'maiden' speeches

Ms Julie Withers - "I am a licensed lay minister... I was married in June this year... my wife and I had been together for twenty years." (1:58:29)

Mr Richard Brown - "Marriage, which isn't marriage, using liturgy, which isn't liturgy - I wonder how you think these things play out with very large numbers of people?" (2:02:14)

Rev Jodie Stowell - "When it comes to supporting the move to bring Prayers of Love and Faith to the life of the Church and her people, I cannot see it as anything other than the just, right, fair, merciful, compassionate action of God's Spirit." (2:08:08)

Mr Peter Barrett - "I do not want Justin to resign, I do not want to take him to court, my church does not want to stop paying the parish share and give my money to a group of trustees who will decide what to do with it - it saddens me that people are doing this it is not the way of Christ." (2:12:15)

Mr James Wilson - "I started to attend the Church where I currently worship as it was coming to terms with the suicide of a member of the congregation, Lizzie Lowe, she was 14.... she was coming to terms with the fact that she was gay." (2:15:53)

Rev Neil Barber - "There is a simple choice for each one of us here today, each bishop and archbishop, each member of the House of Clergy and each member of the House of Laity. Jesus is clear, Joshua was clear - I am with them - and I implore you Synod to echo Joshua's words, "As for me and my household we will serve the Lord." (2:20:20)

Rev Will Pearson-Gee - "I love you all but we cannot walk together - we need to part company so we can start talking about other issues - like mission." (2:24:20)

Dr Ros Clarke - "... makes it clear just how divided the bishops are - not just on the subject of same-sex relationships but also on the legal advice and the motion before us. Synod it is not progress to be presented with legal advice which most of us have not been allowed to see and which has divded those who have seen it." (3:07:28)

Mr Philip Baldwin - "Christianity is not about repression, hypocrisy and denial, it is about generosity, compassion and love... to move to a position where it ultimately serves and celebrates LGBTQI+ people." (3:53:02)

Rt Rev Sarah Mullally - "It is clear and it is transparent. And therefore I would suggest to Clive that tonight, go back, re-read GS 2328 and you will see the legal... the foundation of the legal advice we have been given. (4:13:14)

Rev Tom Woolford - "Publish the legal advice without delay - I've said it, let's see it and then it can be sorted." (4:35:05)

Rev Dr Ian Paul - "The great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus himself, our supreme pastor was also Jesus, the Teacher. He never separated his pastoral care and love for his people from his teaching. We cannot separate his command to love from his command to obey and the reason we need those commandments is we do not know rightly how to love." (4:00:36)

Rt Revd Pete Wilcox - "The glacial progress is ... far more to do with the intractible trickiness of answering two fundamental questions - 'Will the House of Bishops maintain, or will we relax, the discipline which currently prohibits clergy from entering into same-sex civil marriage?' and, 'Will we maintain, or will we relax, the frequently stated position of the House of Bishops that the only proper context for sexual intimacy is heterosexual marriage?" (4:56:10)

The debate continued on Wednesday morning

Revd Rachel Webbley - "We in the parishes understand that things change. Women don't have to wear a hat to church, left-handed cildren don't have their fingers rapped and divorced people are not automatically barred from re-marrying in church." (46:02)

Revd Canon Vaughan Roberts - "If this motion is passed there will be a tearing of the fabric of the Church of England at the deepest level – in every parish, deanery and diocese." (1:00:49)

Miss Lucy Gorman - "People are planning wed... planning blessings, as of February's decision, let's let them do that, let's just crack on and do the work we voted for in February." (1:12:50)

Revd Kate Wharton - "I believe to pass this amendment would be pastorally irresponsible, practically irresponsible, theologically irresponsible and collegially irresponsible" (1:42:40)

Very Revd Mandy Ford - "Numerous people, of whom I am one, have had a service of thanksgiving following entering a Civil partnership in their own parish church - with the full knowledge of their diocesan bishop for ten years. And to my knowledge, in that time not a single clergyperson has been disciplined for conducting such a service." (1:44:35)

Rt Revd Martin Warner - "Doctrine is what inspires adoration of God, martyrdom and mission and it is eschatalogical, asserting that what we are and do now is orientated in some intrinsic way to the eternal reality." (1:48:00)

Mr Benjamin Johns - "Living in Love and faith can be summarised in four words - 'Did God really say?'" (2:02:48)

Rt Revd Andrew Watson - "The irony is, that like the Day of the Lord, the day of B2 will come, but to change the image from the Holy Scriptures to Michael Rosen's book, 'We Are Going on a Bear Hunt' - 'We can't go over it, we can't go under it, Oh No! We've got to go through it."(2:23:28)

Mrs Nicola Denyer - "Lay people have lots of different ideas about where the Church of England should go, not just on LLF, but also what kind of coffee we should have after a service, and what kind of biscuits we should get when the bishop comes to do a confirmation. Difference is OK." (3:08:50)

Revd Patrick Richmond, "There are issues explicitly in Scripture, that pertain to our salvation, but which are not creedal, indeed they have not been challenged in the history of the Church and so there has never been a need to set it down." (3:34:16)

Revd Marcus Walker - "... my vote will be analysed and examined and anything I say will be explored, analysed and examined. two of the Houses of this House (sic) have to debate in public, have our votes known in public and that is right because what we say and what we do is of serious important matter." (3:59:32)

The debate continued on Wednesday afternoon

Mrs Alianore Smith - "It does not seem wise or prudent to vote on something as important as this when there is incomplete pastoral guidance and a lack of transparency around legal advice." (1:02:22)

Mr Daniel Matovu - "The 44 bishops will correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that the mission of the Church was to encourage people to get into the Kingdom of God, not help them get disqualified from it." (1:11:45)

Rev Adrian Clarke - "A good number of my congregation have put their family's lives on the line in Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and many more would be willing to do so to defend the Scriptures, the very Word of God ... and consequently they are saying to me that if these prayers are passed, either we leave the CofE or they will leave this church." (1:24:00)

Revd Canon Alice Kemp - "As a Church founded on the love of God, is this who we really want to be? A Church that wants to be exempt from the Equality Act? That wants to do things that keep us from being part of everybody?" (1:22:32)

Rt Revd Sarah Mullally - summing up the debate

"The legal has been in conversation with theology. This has been an iterative process..." (1:53:50)

"None of us denies the deeply divisive nature of our disagreement but this is not a creedal issue, unity however is. We have sought to thread reassurance through the proposals but for some this will not be enough and therefore the House of Bishops has committed to look at formal structural provision. For some the simple fact that I have led this process has meant they see me no longer as in communion with them, I want to ensure them that I still believe that we are in communionwith one another. And whilst I may no longer be invited to eat at their table, they will always be welcome at mine. And if that means I need to sit outside with the powerless, the marginalised and the lost, then that is where I will sit and I am certain that I will also encounter Christ there." (1:57:05)

The main motion was carried

It is now in the hands of the House of Bishops as to how and when they implement the decision. Prayers are likely to be commended in December 2023, the standalone services may not be available until the Spring of 2024.


Recognising that many faithful Anglicans will be confused about what has happened and what might happen Anglican Futures offers fortnightly online gatherings:

Close to the Edge - on Tuesday morning at 10.30am and Thursday evening at 7pm.

For more information and to sign up

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