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LLF - The Decision Point?

LLF - The Decision Point?

July 9, 2024

This debate was based on the update on the LLF process - LLF: Moving Forward as One Church (GS 2358)

In the preceeding days, Bishop Martyn Snow, the lead bishop for the LLF process, had faced numerous written questions, with verbal supplementaries, and chaired a presentation with follow up questions.

The facts were clear:
• Once "prayers are commended it is hard to see a scenario where they will be uncommended". The Prayers of Love and Faith were commended for use in regular services in November 2023.

• That the majority of the House of Bishops wish to introduce standalone services of blessing and allow clergy to enter into civil same-sex marriages but were committed to ensuring the necessary pastoral guidance and pastoral reassurance was in place before beginning a three year 'discernment' period. This discernment period was not to decide the principle of blessing couples in same-sex relationships but to consider how the services/ pastoral guidance and assurance were working.

• Delegated (extended) episcopal ministry will be offered to those who cannot accept the theological convictions of their diocesan bishop but "there will have to be some shift from an understanding that says, "We cannot simply agree to disagree."

The Alliance, including CEEC had been very clear that this position was unsustainable for them and were praying for a last minute intervention from the bishops - it didn't come.
More information on the background of this debate can be found here. https://www.anglicanfutures.org/post/llf-will-it-go-to-penalties

The Motion

The unamended motion brought to Synod by the Bishop of Leicester, Rt Revd Martyn Snow, read:
That this Synod:
(a) support the overall proposal and timetable set out in GS 2358;
(b) request that the House of Bishops, with the advice of the LLF working groups:
1. revise the Pastoral Guidance to remove restrictions on the use of PLF in 'standalone' services alongside the introduction of an arrangement to register for Pastoral Reassurance;
2. establish the basis for the provision of Pastoral Reassurance through a House of Bishops' Statement and Code of Practice which provides for the delegation of some specific and defined episcopal ministry, and which is overseen by an Independent Review Panel;
3. report to this Synod at its February 2025 group of sessions on the further theological work carried out under the auspices of the Faith and Order Commission around the nature of doctrine, particularly as it relates to the doctrine of marriage and the question of clergy in same-sex civil marriages.
(c) Agree that taken together the Pastoral Guidance, the Bishop's Statement and Code of Practice for pastoral provision will replace Issues in Human Sexuality.
(d) Agree for the arrangements for Pastoral Reassurance to be regularly monitored over a period of at least three years before being formally reviewed by General Synod.'
Once again the debate was chaired by Geoffery Tattersall QC. As is his want, after inviting the Acrhbishop of Canterbury to speak, he chose those who had not spoken before (maiden speeches) and then sought to take alternative speeches for and against.

Bishop of Leicester - opened the debate with two main themes
1. The beauty of the church
2. That he had heard and understood the diversity of opinion, "I get it" he said and wanted everyone to remain within the Church of England - both The Alliance (an orthodox grouping) and the Together Network (a progressive grouping).
"We all want the best for this beautiful Church of England. Yes we are going to have to settle for second best, knowing that this side of heaven the Church will never be perfect but one day, one day we will sit together at the 'Table of Heaven'."

Archbishop of Canterbury - had a similar message.
"I cannot imagine the Church of England without The Alliance network members... I cannot imagine the Church of England without the Together Network members."

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, for Justin Welby unity is the gospel issue - and if everyone keeps talking a solution will be found:
"That the church flourishes as one is indispensable to the gospel in this land. That the church flourishes as one is essential to the Anglican Communion, which like all Global churches is deeply divided and seeking the support of each other, not to be commanded, reprimanded, organised, by others but to be loved regardless of their views.

We are today nowhere near a final decision as Bishop Martin has made very very clear the next step is detailed work to bring different traditions and Views and Theological and doctrinal understanding to a place so that all may flourish and so that above all salvation may be proclaimed clearly to our nation."

Rev Stuart Cradduck (Lincoln) - For the motion

"Will I again face a CDM and be on the naughty boys list and have a red flag against my name (active for 5 years) for celebrating publicly the love of Jack and Simon? - They were once members of my youth group in St Albans"

Rev Will Harwood (Truro) - Against the motion

Referring to Peppa Pig's "hapless" Daddy Pig, he explained,
"The classic question when they're out on a journey, "Daddy Pig are we lost?" - "Uh, yes," he has to reply rather sheepishly."

"Synod are we lost? - Uh, yes - We are lost in a tangle of confusing and contradictory assurances. We are lost in a series of proposals that do not seem to honor the Leicester Conversations and seem rushed and, perhaps, even careless. We seem to be lost in a chronic and exhausting disagreement, which threatens to fracture the Church of England."

Helen Lamb (Oxford) - Against the motion

"The destination has been made clear. The bus is traveling the route, stops are mapped out but it is going in one direction - that has been made explicitly clear - and right now it feels like some of us are being run over by that bus. I also hear that for some people it is going far too slowly"

Bishop of Bath and Wells - Against the motion

"For many, it is the absence of such clarity that is causing such rage and distrust around our process. Now I know there is colossal pressure to get the Prayers of Love and Faith done. With all of us here, I would love us to be able to move on to something else, but we know, from our national life, where a desire quickly to cut to the end of a process gets us. Until the doctrinal work is undertaken this motion is not oven-ready."

Rev Aneal Appadoo (UKME co-opted) - Against the motion>B>

"We have rigorous processes for Synod, which are right and build trust and enable trust to thrive among us, even when things look dishonest. What was revealed on Saturday night was that the House of Bishops have, at best, been playing fast and loose with our processes, and, at worst, and I pray not, been intentionally deceiving this Synod. For the sake of trust and the unity of this chamber and the Communion, which I love, I urge the Synod to vote against this motion. As has devastatingly been reported the processes have not been followed and I for one feel like I've been tricked."

Bishop of London - For the motion

"We talk a lot about the need to do more theology, and that is not a bad thing, however let us be honest that at times it can be a displacement activity - and the truth is we will not all agree once the theology is done. Maybe, we would be wiser to put our theology to work, regardless of our theology of marriage or sexuality. We should put it to work so that we can create a household of faith which is not homophobic, which is not misogynistic, which is not racist, or misuses power. Because, of course, theology is not just about words it is about our deeds."

Rev Brenda Wallace (Chelmsford) - For the motion

"Let's not get so tied up in law and doctrine that we lose sight of the people who are at the heart of our discussions. And let's have the generosity to reach out with Christ's loving arms and embrace them with love and faith. We 've talked a lot about trust, so let's move forward with trust that our God of Love loves all God's children and wants them to live in relationships which are lifegiving, life enhancing and blessed by God and by the church."

Amendment 67
The Rt Revd Robert Innes (Europe) to move as an amendment:
In (b)iii, after "...same-sex civil marriages" insert ", this work to be appropriately budgeted and resourced by the Archbishops' Council in terms of theological advice, travel and meeting costs in order to increase the likelihood of meeting the timescales as set out in GS 2358.".'

The Rt Revd Robert Innes

As the Chair of the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC), the Bishop of Europe brought this amendment as a simple piece of budgeting - to ensure the bills for the doctrinal work Synod was asking for could be paid for.

"We're not much accustomed to this - we are used to paying for legal advice and safeguarding advice and will increasingly need to budget and pay adequately for theological advice to."

The amendment was accepted by the Bishop of Leicester and Carl Hughes, from the Archbishops' Council confirmed "there is sufficient provision within the '24 Forecast and '25 Budget."

Julie Withers (Chester) - For the amendment

"The amendment will support what is pragmatic way forward, by resourcing the work going ahead. At Leicester we were doing theology in a practical way, but we needed the experts advice and this amendment will provide for that going forward."

James Cary (Bath and Wells) - For the amendment

"I would love an assurance that whatever is produced as a result of this is made fully available to the whole of Synod, rather than just potentially verbally to the House of Bishops or whatever. It would be really helpful for us to trust this process, which many of us are really struggling to hold on with. By seeing everything that is published in full, I think we would really appreciate, that so that we can all make decisions together based on this advice."

Rev Mandy Ford (Deans) - For the amendment

"Theology also includes our study of science, of philosophy, of hermeneutics and I plead with you to accept and read the theology that is produced, particularly if it comes out of a tradition that is not your own. That is the wondrousness of the breadth of the Anglican Church is that we do so many things so differently and that actually includes our interpretation and practice of doctrine."

Richard Denno (Liverpool) - For the amendment

"I think there is a lack of clarity that needs to be pointed out, as to whether the scope of theological reflection includes from the Anglican Communion worldwide. And for those of us who've been on Synod, remembering the visits we've had from our friends from the Anglican Communion - and I for one have been pained to hear their voices overlooked and ignored. Could we have some clarity that their voices in particular, and in addition the voice of the Vatican (which has spoken clearly on these subjects). Could we be clear that those voices will be included?"

Motion for closure on the amendment - carried by a show of hands
Vote on Amendment 67 - carried by a show of hands

Amendment 68
The Revd Andrew Cornes (Chichester) to move as an amendment:
68 'Leave out paragraph (c)'

Rev Andrew Cornes (Chichester)

"What replaces it [Issues in Human Sexuality] must be theologically serious and rich. In a world so muddled about sex and damaged by the sexual free for all, it is essential that the church has a message about sexual desire, sexual love, and sexual acts that is clear, distinctly Christian and pastoral"

The Bishop of Leicester did not accept the amendment, saying, "To take this out of the motion runs the risk that that we are saying 'Issues' will not be replaced. I don't think we can run that risk. We need to be clear it needs to be replaced but I understand the message, the clear message from Synod, that Synod needs to be involved in that."
25 members stood so the amendment was debated

Alianore Smith (Southwark) - For the amendment

"We currently have Port but no Stilton. When I head back home to the fellow laity I'm here to represent, I need to be able to explain clearly and fully what I have voted on and why. Clause C is asking us to sign off on something which does not currently exist. This is not sensible."

Mae Christie (Southwark) - Against the amendment
"I disagree with Mr [sic] Cornes regarding Issues of Human Sexuality being what we would now consider to be a serious piece of theology ... you can see that within this document there was a great generosity desired but you can also see that it is far past outdated and I'm afraid to say far past being serious theology and it does belong directly in the bin."

Jon Bavington (Leeds) - For the amendment

Told a parable about a vicar struggling to get his PCC to agree - "We know and we've agreed that 'Issues' needs replacing but please can we see the documents which are to replace it before we approve those documents? So Clause C is unfair to all of us here - and I urge you to vote for the amendment which would remove it."

Robert Thomson (London) - Against the amendment

"Of course, Issues in Human Sexuality was issued as a teaching document and it was never meant to be the discipline of the Church. And we all know from questions that Mae has asked in this chamber that it's a bit murky how it became to be used as a disciplinary document..."

Nicola Denyer (Newcastle) - For the amendment

"I trust our bishops actually - I may be rare in this, or not, but I trust our bishops because our bishops are people and they are children of God and they are loved by God. And if any of you thinkthat they literally sit there going how can we wind up everybody else in the Church of England then you've got more time on your hands than I do"

Simon Eyre (Chichester) - For the amendment

"Simply bundling together these various documents, which Andrew has already made clear are in some ways incomplete, just seems inappropriate. This is potentially going to be a document that's going to be referenced for years ahead, so we need to make sure that whatever is produced is coherent, really hangs together, interfaces together, in a way that people will be able to read and understand - and particularly for potential ordinands, or those in training - they know what they're letting themselves in for that's absolutely clear in my mind."

Alex Frost (Blackburn) - Against the amendment

"I think we are being disingenuous to the amount of work that has being carried out in this very long and drawn out process - to the endless hours that people have engaged with LLF - to something like 40 plus hours that this Synod has given to this matter, in this quinquennium. We have the instruction book. Parts of it might seem to be as in the Argos flat pack furniture. It might appear in a different language in certain places, but the instruction is there. And we have to give that responsibility to the Bishops to make that work. We might not trust them, they might let us down, but these are the people that God has given the wisdom to inform us and help us to make the decisions"

Ros Clarke (Lichfield) - For the amendment

"I think in February '23 we put the cart before the horse, deciding on a course of action without theology to underguard it. So, I urge us not to make the same mistake again. Let us give people time to do the work and do it properly and then let us decide whether we want to go ahead."

Ian Johnston (Portsmouth) Against the amendment

"We need to sort this out. We need to have trust - we need, I say, to trust our House of Bishops. Now this replacement of 'Issues' might not be perfect. Let's say it certainly isn't perfect, it's the best we've got and we cannot continue with 'Issues'. I think, if I may say so ,we need to trust our House of Bishops. Yes, they're trying to fill something of a vacuum if we take 'Issues' away. That to my mind is, at the very least, the least-worst, and I think the best, way forward."

Rev Charlie Skrine (London) - For the amendment

"I find myself in substantial agreement with Robert and with Mae Christie. The document 'Issues is is an embarrassing document, frankly, they have Illustrated that well but I am in support of this amendment. Nothing about this amendment obstructs or delays, it simply says please show it to us before we vote."

Sam Wilson (Chester) - Against the amendment

"The people who are behind some of these proposals, Nick and Georgie and Bishop Martin, are not idiots and they're not going to propose something to us that doesn't carry the confidence of us. It's not just about us having faith, it's also about accepting the reality of the politics of this place and I think we have to admit that we can trust them because they need us to."

Clare Williams (Norwich) - For the amendment

"In recent LLF debates the disagreements have much more been about trust and process than they have been about theology to quote our new prime minister the fight for trust is the battle that defines our age Perhaps it is now also the battle which defines this debate."
Motion for closure on the amendment - carried by a show of hands
Vote on Amendment 68 - carried by a vote by House

For Against Abstain
Bishops 11 23 5
Clergy 93 97 2
Laity 90 93 3

After a short break, the debate on the main motion, as amended reconvened.

Rev Judith Matlby (Universities and TEIs) - For the motion

"A few years after Civil Partnerships came in, which are now nearly 20 years old, I think, a colleague came to me and said that he and his partner had entered a Civil Partnership. His name's Scott, he's a practicing Anglican - lifelong, on his PCC in his village church. And they wanted to mark it in some way, in some form of Christian way. So, I discussed it through with Scott and Richard and they thought celebrating a Eucharist would be a really good way to do that. Let the celebration be held by the greatest of all celebrations the Eucharist."

Rev Ian Paul (Southwell and Nottingham) - Against the motion

"If you are thinking of voting for this proposal, please do it with your eyes wide open. Knowing it will destroy trust. Knowing it will divide the Church. Knowing it will lead to greater decline. Personally, I don't feel that any of these things are a demonstration of the love of God. Vote for this only if you think that distrust, disunity and decline are the price worth paying."

Rev Graham Kirk-Spriggs (Norwich) - For the motion

"...doctrines change over time. Don't be afraid - God loves you and there is nothing you can do that can make him love you less. We can find ways of living together, and please know that my love and prayers are with you; that God's love is with you; and as a gay man I support you in doing what your conscience dictates. But you don't have to be afraid of me, or praying with people, or, dare I say it, God. I've lived in that place of fear myself, convinced that God hated me but when I finally knew the love of Jesus Christ for me and his transforming grace I was brought into fullness of life. Friends, please let's get on with it and live in love and faith together."

Rev Patrick Richmond (Norwich) - Against the motion

"When I was at Wycliffe Hall, I thought that these were issues that we could agree to disagree on because I respected that different people had different interpretations. But as I've got into the scriptural material I've become convinced from the heart these are matters of Salvation. Jesus does save, as Graham has said, Amen to that. We're saved by faith in Jesus, as our Lord. Our works do not save us, or justify us, but they are fruits of our justification, as our Anglican articles remind us. Jesus does transform us - he tells us that we must do what he says, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I say? He appointed his Apostles and they make it quite clear what we need to do."

Sammi Tooze (York) - For the motion

The standalone services are not part of a departure from the doctrine in itself, in a regular service where the PLF are used, it's not a doctrinal question - it's a pastoral one. And about enabling LGBT people to be fully welcome in the life of the church. We can be confident that these prayers are not contrary to, or indicative of, departure of Scripture, of Doctrine, because we're offering something which at this point um has doesn't pretend to be a wedding,"

Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham - Against the motion

"We simply have not yet reached a consensus that enables us to move forward as one Church, in particular this is partly because we've not properly acknowledged, or considered, the category and the nature of our disagreement and why this is not something over which some can simply agree to disagree. Unity is very important indeed and I know this has rightly been like the magnetic north guiding Bishop Martin in this latest phase. But, I would invite the Synod to consider how Christian unity is emptied of its significance, if not viewed carefully, in an integrated way, with revealed truth, holiness and mission. These are the four principal concerns Jesus expressed in his prayer for the church in John 17 and in which we see the beauty of the church about which Martin spoke."

Zoe Ham, Carlisle - Against the motion

"Bishops, archbishops please would you treat me as a weaker sister. Please would you be willing to give up some power for my sake. You care about the cure of souls so please care about the cure of mine. If you are intent on basically changing Doctrine on the ground I can't go with you. I need a space where the current doctrine of the Church of England is clearly seen to be unchanged and in fact where it's taught and upheld and defended - not seen as something to be embarrassed about because I believe."

Neil Patterson (Hereford) - For the motion

"I'm going to riff slightly off my two brothers of Norwich who spoke earlier and I was very grateful for them bringing as a degree of clarity and I want to just reflect back to you how things are heard. ... This is how it can be heard to LGBTQ Christians and especially especially to those in faithful, committed same-sex marriages, of whom as you know there are several in this chamber. It can be heard as saying that it can be heard as saying that their faith is false it can be heard as saying that though they worship God though they pray and read their Bible though they worship in church and receive communion their faith is false and they are liars before God - that is how it is heard."

Rev Vaughan Roberts (Oxford) - Against the motion

"I've recently been at two meetings both of which were very encouraging and deeply sobering. A week ago, I was speaking at the General Convention of the Anglican Church in North America. Vast in number, vibrant, growing. But at the same time, I was conscious that elsewhere in America there was another assembly, The Episcopal Church. Those two churches are completely divided - that could happen here. And what we're about to decide - if you vote in favor of this motion - could catapult us in that direction."

Rev Rachel Mann (Manchester) For the motion

I think we are called to be a church wrestling like Jacob with the angel which says one to another do not let me go and not until we've all received blessing. Blessing Synod lies, I believe, along the Route commended by this amended motion.

Daniel Matovu (Oxford) Against the motion

"Doctrine, brothers and sisters, matters. It really matters. The unity of the church is based on sharing a common doctrine - particularly in relation to salvation issues. Jesus did not say, "I am the truths, the ways and the lives." Do we want to be the generation of which future generations say, "In those days England had a king and each Bishop taught as he, she or it saw fit." The the canons of the church are designed to protect and guard doctrine."

Abigail Ogier (Manchester) For the motion

"We're also stuck in this ongoing and seemingly circular conversation, which is taking up so much time and energy. Now ,I work for MHA (Methodist Homes) and, last week, I was at Methodist Conference and previous to that I was at my local Methodist synod. And it was a delight to see them getting stuck into issues of justice and mission, having come to a common agreement that allowed everyone's convictions to be honored."

Laura Oliver (Blackburn) Against the motion

"I'm disappointed at the lack of provision for me that is in GS 2358. Bishop Martin, you said in your opening that we are all welcomed at the table of this church, but it was commented on Saturday that there is a fear, a fear that some do not feel that there is a place for them within the Church of England or that others do not want them within the church. That is exactly how I feel. I am not wanted. My experience, my viewpoint, my theological understanding of my sexuality are not wanted. My life is not wanted.

So often, this debate and this discussion refers to the LGBT group and yet my voice and the voices of those like me are not heard. We seem to be completely ignored or it is assumed that we are somehow less LGBT because of the way we choose to live our lives.

But I know that the Lord Jesus accepts me completely - that my worth, my purpose, my contentment are found only in him and so that is what I hold on to when I'm feeling most disheartened by the things that are said in this chamber. But that does not take away from the grief and sadness that I feel when I look at this motion. I'm being told that I must share a space with those with whom I fundamentally disagree whilst I'm here trying to tell you that I'm not sure that I can. Because our beliefs are so fundamentally incongruent and so, Bishops, in trying to keep us together, I fear that you are actually forcing us apart.

I do not see a space for me in these proposals - this motion offers me and those like me nothing. I do not want to leave the church of England, it is my church and I want to continue to worship within it, but this motion continues along a path that may well force me to leave because it does not support me, encourage me, or allow me to flourish and I ask therefore synod that you reject this motion."

Rev Jody Stowell (London) - For the motion

"In November 2012, I was sat in the public gallery of General Synod when the legislation for women bishops fell. It was devastating. And the next day I found it difficult to put on my clerical collar and minister in a church, which I felt saw me as not quite as human as my brothers. Because I think that is what we're debating really again. Are our LGBTQIA+ kindred part of the beautiful spectrum of humanity which God has created on purpose? Do we see the face of God in LGBTQIA+ people, even if we see them as a stranger to us? Do we believe we would be diminished in a church which does not have them in it - because they bring something of God, which we could not see without them? Is our humanity, our inclusion in the life of God, caught up in their inclusion?"

Archbishop of York - For the motion

"After eighteen months of trench warfare - is it time to put down our rifles? - Could I suggest a little game of football in no-man's land? ..
... No parish, no priest, has to offer these prayers. But once the detail has been worked out - not yet done, we're still on the journey - standalone services can take place. And those, who for reasons of conscience and theological conviction, cannot support this -delegated and extended episcopal ministry for pastoral care, sacramental care and teaching ministry will be put in place.

What's before us isn't what everyone wants, as it's not really what anyone wants, but it is an Anglican fay forward and it does do, it does do, what I said I wanted last February"
Motion for closure on the amendment - close on a show of hands so a count of the whole synod was taken and carried
For - 226 Against - 175 Abstain -- 8

Reply by the Bishop of Leicester

"Thank you - the tone has been far, far better than some other debates we have had. It is no small thing to show kindness and love for one another when we clearly disagree so profoundly..."
"Synod you will see the documents - we are not asking you to sign a blank cheque - you will see all of the document in due course."
"Neil Patterson - for your final speech here at synod. I'm grateful Neil for your patience over the time that you've been on synod, for your generosity and your wisdom. Thank you for your contribution.
And to Laura Oliver, you shared very personally with us and I'm deeply grateful for that and I simply want to reiterate once again there is a place for you in the Church of England. I would love to just have a conversation to explore more of what needs to happen for you to feel properly that there is a place for you here. So thank you Laura for what you shared.

Leading on from that, thank you, Vaughan Roberts. I hear you when you say that the likelihood is in the vote we're about to take, that all in favor of change will vote for this and all against change will vote against. I hear clearly that we haven't got it right. This paper is not truly expressive of the desire to ensure that all of you feel that there is a place for you within the church, so I hear that clearly and I want to do further work.

But I want to remind synod once again, this is a work in progress, we are learning as we go along, and I am committed to that learning. So, of course, I urge you to vote in favor of this motion but whatever your conscience tells you this is not the end of the journey. We will be talking more in the coming weeks and months, in particular among us as bishops, for as I say we are not agreed but we are determined to find a way of holding the church through this time."
The motion, including the Bishop of Europe's amendment,
was carried by a vote by Houses

For Against Abstain
Bishops 22 12 5
Clergy 99 88 2
Laity 95 91 2


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