Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations
Last Friday the House of Bishops published a report Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations. This comes after a two year process of talking and listening which involved many people from this diocese, sometimes at great personal cost. I want to thank all those who have shared honestly about themselves during this period and urge them and all members of our diocese to continue in this process.
The report argues for a ‘fresh tone and culture of welcome and support for lesbian and gay people, for those who experience same sex attraction, and for their families’. I want to underline my longing that all the churches, chaplaincies and church schools within the Diocese of St Albans should be places where all people are welcomed, respected and honoured.
To that end, I hope that everyone will read carefully the entire document, rather than respond to some of the reports which have been written about it. I am aware that this may be a challenge for some sections of the church who are feeling disappointed, but if we are to be truly part of the ‘one, holy catholic and apostolic church’ we need to find ways to walk together, even when there are differences of opinion.
The report will now be debated at General Synod in the second week of February, which will enable Synod members to reflect together. Following this, the House of Bishops will begin work on a new teaching document on marriage and relationships (paragraphs 34-35), which the Bishops feel should “affirm the place of lesbian and gay people in the life of the Church, making their voices heard both with the document and in the life of the Church” amongst other things. There will also be further guidance for clergy in their ministry (paragraphs 36-43) and guidance on questions to clergy and ordinands (paragraphs 44-55).
Please pray for the bishops and other members of General Synod that we may continue to walk together, being led by the Holy Spirit and seeking the ‘mind of Christ’.
+Alan St Albans, +Richard Bedford and +Michael Hertford