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Church of England softens up parishioners for same-sex marriage change

Church of England softens up parishioners for same-sex marriage change

By Julian Mann
ANGLICAN MAINSTREAM
Jan.16, 2020

The Church of England is preparing the ground to change the definition of marriage enshrined in its 1662 Book of Common Prayer as exclusively between one man and one woman. The Church's Pastoral Advisory Group, which 'supports and advises dioceses on pastoral responses to issues that arise concerning LGBTI+ clergy and lay people', is pursuing a campaign to soften up parishioners for the impending change.

Members of the group, which include the Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman, and the historian, Helen Berry, are now promoting 'pastoral principles' designed to overcome grass-roots resistance to the CofE hierarchy's 'good disagreement' and 'radical inclusion' strategy over sexual morality. This approach aims to persuade parishioners that the issue of whether Christians are allowed in the will of God to have sex outside heterosexual marriage is a secondary one which they can legitimately disagree on.

The six principles 'for living well together', as outlined in a new video presented by group members, 'invite church communities to examine afresh their life together, seeing our many differences as gifts that can build us up in trust and mutual affection'.

The principles are: 'Acknowledge prejudice'; 'Speak into silence'; 'Address ignorance'; 'Cast out fear'; 'Admit hypocrisy'; and 'Pay attention to power'. 'Using them', the group claims. 'could be transformative for your church community and for the church as a whole'.

The video features Ed Shaw, a CofE clergyman in Bristol, who speaks of his 'same-sex attraction' and says that he is 'celibate'. On the same video Helen Berry mentions her 'wife'.

She says: 'I'm actually an LGBT person and there are people who have points of disagreement, in relation to their theological position, and so we've had to find a way of working respectfully with one another.'

Declaring that he has 'really enjoyed' being on the Pastoral Advisory Group, Ed Shaw commends the principles for discussion at parochial church council meetings, in small groups and church youth groups.

This timing of this Marxist-style re-education programme for parishioners is significant. Five-yearly elections to the Church of England's governing body, its General Synod, are due to take place later this year.

The Synod, with new members committed to the change and those with their reservations softened up by initial assurances that no parish church will be required to host a same-sex wedding, could agree to revolutionise the established Church's understanding of marriage in the next five years.

According to the Book of Common Prayer, the joining together of one man and one woman in 'holy Matrimony' is 'an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church'.

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Church of England Pastoral Advisory Group offers pointers for churches on welcoming gay marriage

The Pastoral Principles invite church communities to examine afresh their life together, seeing our many differences as gifts that can build us up in trust and mutual affection. Using them could be transformative for your church community and for the church as a whole.

CHURCH OF ENGLAND
Jan. 15, 2020

The Pastoral Advisory Group supports and advises dioceses on pastoral responses to issues that arise concerning LGBTI+ clergy and lay people. Its work will be based upon careful engagement with people who embody a range of experiences and viewpoints within the Church of England.

The group brings draft advice on pastoral ministry to LGBTI+ people in the Church of England for initial consideration by the House of Bishops, having reflected on how pastoral practices might develop within current teaching. It also reviews advice provided in the light of the emerging teaching and learning resources of the Living in Love and Faith project, through close collaboration with the Living in Love and Faith processes.

While the focus of the Pastoral Advisory Group relates to LGBTI+ people, its outputs apply to all sorts of difference and diversity among God's people.

In a video, members of the Pastoral Advisory Group introduce the Pastoral Principles.

PRINT: https://www.churchofengland.org/PAG

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