What is now being proposed for Living in Love and Faith?

Andrew Goddard writes: Yesterday, the latest proposal as to the way forward in relation to Living in Love and Faith (LLF) appeared in the form of GS 2358, to be added to all the previous General Synod papers since January 2023. This 31-page paper provides the motion (p. 17) the House of Bishops will be proposing at the July General Synod and supporting paperwork for it.  What follows offers a brief overview of its main proposals and the issues they raise with much more detailed analysis and supporting argument in this longer article: GS 2346 Synod July 2024.

The proposal – explicitly still an “emerging proposal” – comes from the LLF Programme Board chaired by the Archbishop of York with a preface from Martyn Snow, the Bishop of Leicester as Lead Bishop. Behind it lies the work of 3 working groups, particularly at a residential in Leicester (10th to 12th May) and discussions at the College and House and Bishops, most recently on 12th June. 

What is being sought?: From “three spaces in one Church” back to “a generous space” for a new “period of discernment” 

It is clear that not all of these contributors are quite on the same page from the fact that the language of “three spaces” which Bishop Martyn introduced only two weeks ago (and I explored and Ian Paul has critiqued) has been withdrawn late in the process (para 10, p. 4). Instead we have simply returned to the language of “a generous space where all can thrive and where different theological convictions are honoured, recognising also that there are many congregations where a diversity of views of held” (para 4, p. 1). Despite having questions about how “three spaces” was being used, this is I think a retrograde step as it risks avoiding the need to face the deep doctrinal divisions we are facing and their implications for the nature of our unity.

The first part of the proposed Synod motion is a commitment “to support the overall proposal and timetable set out in GS 2358”. Given the fluid and provisional nature of the proposal it is not quite clear what such overall support means but one of the central new features of the paper is that there now be

a three-year period of discernment in the life of the church to enable the exploration of differing developments and practice while holding together as one church (para 15, p. 5).

Although it is immediately stated that “This is intended to be ‘discernment’ and not ‘reception’” the distinction between these two is never clarified or defended.

This clearly has significant implications for the timetable and it does appear that part of the facing up to the reality that is happening is that this whole process is going to take a lot longer than the bishops originally said. There now appear to be two stages: the shaping of this emerging proposal over the next year (July 2024-July 2025) and then a three-year period of discernment (2025-2028) leading to a report in 2029. During this period there will be new General Synod elections in 2026.

Resetting LLF: Whose unity? Which doctrine?

Andrew Goddard writes: A new article by the Lead Bishop for LLF, Martyn Snow, offers some promising signals as to how the LLF “reset” is progressing, particularly in relation to the importance of doctrine and its relationship to the form of our unity, but it also leaves major questions unanswered. The following article explores six … Continue Reading

Queer Holiness: A Review and Critique II: A (Very) Flawed Text

Joshua Penduck writes: In Part I of this review of Charlie Bell’s book, Queer Holiness, after outlining his overall argument, I noted that the hints and implications of some of his arguments lead to a ‘sacralisation’ of contemporary Western norms for sexual ethics, that is, equating our current culture with divine revelation. As such, I proposed … Continue Reading