Synod report on sexuality
27 January 2017 IN: Bishop
Bishop David's letter to clergy on publication of the General Synod report on sexuality.
"I am writing to commend to you the report now published by the House of Bishops following the Shared Conversations process through which we have been discussing issues of sexuality. I do urge you to read the report for yourselves rather than to rely on second or third hand accounts, and to commend it to your church or congregation.
You will know, as men and women called to the cure of souls, that the tone of a conversation often frames what is heard and said, and hence how the conversation can develop. I and my fellow bishops are clear that from today the Church of England needs a new and better way of speaking with each other about these issues. That tone will be grounded in what we have described as "a culture of welcome and support".
We are ready now to share with the wider Church the areas of work which we feel will take us forward. We believe it is time for a new and major piece of work on marriage and relationships. We wish to provide guidance to clergy who are seeking to meet the pastoral needs of same sex couples. We need to reconsider the guidance given to bishops and their staff who are speaking with clergy and ordinands on matters that touch their personal lives. In all of this work we are seeking not to resolve matters to the satisfaction of some and dismay of others, but to walk together. Equally, we will seek to avoid situations where any of us feel we are being talked about, but not with.
What we have set out in our report is intended not to be the last word on sexuality, but to guide the next steps on our church's journey. Throughout our conversations we have kept before us the touchstone of what is, at present, realistically possible. We have been mindful that setting out on a programme of legislative change without a clear expectation that we would be able to gain the necessary synodical majorities would be both foolhardy and deeply damaging. Hence, rather than seek changes in law at this point in time, we have established the principle of maximum freedom within the present legal framework. The work we have set out and are committed to do will determine how that looks in practice.
Following the publication of the report, it will now go forward to the General Synod for consideration next month. Meanwhile, in Manchester a diverse group of those who took part in the regional Shared Conversation has continued to meet. I hope that they and others will wish to continue to take part in the next steps of the journey. Please pray for those of us who serve on General Synod, that God will give us grace for our forthcoming meeting and beyond."