Synod approves Bishops' proposals for prayers of blessing for same sex couples

First published on: 10th February 2023

General Synod has voted to approve the Bishops' proposals for prayers of blessing for same-sex couples. The vote at General Synod followed a long debate which came at the culmination of the Living in Love and Faith process.

The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Revd Beverley Mason writes:-

General Synod February 2023 and all paths seemed to lead to Item 11 Living in Love and Faith (GS 2289) on Wednesday 8th February.  This was what some Synod Members had positioned themselves for and many had been elected for.  On the preceding day we had group work, revisiting the Pastoral Principles and applying these principles to our discussions.  

In my group, all expressed their fear and confusion about the LLF process; why Synod hadn’t been given more agency in the LLF process and there was a sense of their being silenced and of betrayal by the Bishops, which was reinforced by the Bishops’ ‘leak’.  

Those who held to the traditional teaching of the Church in terms of marriage as being between one man and one woman felt the Bishops were introducing same sex marriage and the blessing of sex outside of marriage by stealth.  

Across the Synod and from across the traditions, members were vocal in their condemnation of homophobia, abuse and of the immense hurt caused by the church to those who identify as LGBTQIA+. In the motion brought forward to Synod by the House of Bishops, item 11(a) stated that this Synod, ‘lament and repent of the failure of the Church to be welcoming to LGBTQIA+ people and the harm that LGBTQIA+ people have experienced and continue to experience in the life of the Church.  For very many who identify as  LGBTQIA+ there was a strong push to remove this sentence.  The words, they felt, were hollow and the pain expressed in the debate made clear that the Church must do so much better in its acknowledgment of hurt caused and of its intention and desire to get right its welcome and inclusion.  

For the many who support same-sex marriage in church, the honouring and blessing of people in same-sex Civil Partnership and of clergy in same-sex sexual partnerships, the Bishops’ proposals did not go far enough and there was a drive to bring this back to Synod in 2 years.  This was rejected.

By the time we got to debate Item 11, we were facing 28 separate potential amendments all but one of which, failed. This amendment (67) was passed, which added ‘endorse the decision of the College and House of Bishops not to propose any change to the doctrine of marriage, and their intention that the final version of the ‘Prayers of Love and Faith’ should not be contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England.’,  nobody knew whether the Motion would stand.  It was a very tense, yet very measured debate, with people from across the traditions providing coordinates to help steer Synod through these choppy waters.

When it came to the vote, the Motion was passed by a majority in each House.

For all the work that has gone into LLF there was relief!  For members and for people who are affected by the decisions - either there not going far enough in terms of fully including difference, or for those who feel this is a step to far, there remains uncertainty and pain and a need for listening and healing.  

The Bishops are now tasked to produce the Pastoral Guidance to replace “Issues in Human Sexuality”,  together with a suite of prayers that reflect the feedback from Synod members, to be brought back to Synod in July 2023.  

Lord, you have taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.


Read More

Prayers for God’s blessing for same-sex couples take step forward after Synod debate

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Read the agenda and papers for the whole sessions of synod

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