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3rd February 2023

Dear Bishop Sarah,

We are writing to you as the PCC of All Souls, Langham Place to express our concern and sadness at the response that has been presented by the House of Bishops as the outcome of Living in Love and Faith.

Both the response and the draft prayers abandon confidence in the goodness and authority of God's Word and in doing so they move the Church of England away from her historic formularies, which are foundational to our life together in London, England and as part of the global Anglican Communion. While the response states that there is to be no change in the Biblical doctrine of marriage, in practice they are that.

At a very practical level these materials undermine the Biblical call to discipleship: a call to put aside one's self in a desire to live in response to all that our Lord Jesus has done for us. This is particularly true for many in our church family who have chosen to abstain from sex outside marriage, regardless of their sexuality. We are deeply saddened that these prayers devalue the difficult road they have travelled by communicating that sex outside of marriage is not sinful but actually something they can receive a blessing for. This is wrong.

We particularly grieve for those members of our congregation and the wider Church who are same sex attracted and whose Biblical convictions mean they are single and abstinent against a culture that encourages them to be otherwise. Their daily battle of faithfulness is intense yet their voice is absent from the Bishops' response to Living in Love and Faith. This is incredibly sad.

We share in the Bishops' apology expressed in the pastoral letter for homophobia in the Church and acknowledge that we have not loved LGBTQI+ individuals always in the ways that we should have.

Church has too often been a place where people feel unable even to say they are same sex attracted or struggling with their gender identity and we need to work harder so that is no longer the case. But church has also been a place where people find freedom through finding their identity in Christ, joy in knowing unconditional love and peace in the forgiveness of Jesus. All of us are fallen and sinful and we all are called to repent before the Lord Jesus. As drafted, the prayers of Love and Faith now teach every sexually active unmarried couple that repentance is not needed. If believed, this denies people the joy of stepping away from those things God has called sinful into new life in him. We cannot participate in such a departure from Biblical Christianity.

These proposals leave us in a very difficult position with regard to episcopal oversight. This is a further point of particular sadness -- we have greatly valued your ministry to us, your support and your commitment to mutual flourishing. We would like to be clear that we will continue to maintain the strong partnership we have with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team.

In considering our position, we are also mindful of our partnership with the global Anglican church and also with smaller orthodox churches within the London diocese and across England and our desire to stand with them in upholding historic Anglican theology.

We ask that you encourage the London bishops to clarify their personal position shortly by stating whether they intend to endorse or otherwise use the Prayers of Love and Faith. We presume that your proposing of the motion at General Synod is an endorsement of the prayers and signals your intention to authorise them for use within the diocese -- please correct us if that assumption is wrong. Clarity on this will help our PCC discussions over the coming months as we seek to work out what this means for our relationship with the London diocese.

Given the current proposals, the PCC voted this week to pause all Common Fund payments until we know the outcome of General Synod and have taken the time necessary to work through the implications of any decisions coming from it. Please know that this decision was not taken lightly or with any joy but is a reflection of the degree of concern we have with the response and draft text that have been presented by the House of Bishops.

We will of course continue to pray for you and for the Church of England as a whole.

Your sincerely,

The All Souls Langham Place PCC."

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