LGCM writes to all General Synod members

MEMO: TO ALL MEMBERS OF GENERAL SYNOD
DATE: 31 January 2017

LGCM recommends that in the debate on 15 February at General Synod, members should refuse to take note of ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations: A Report from the House of Bishops’, and further, should not take part in groupwork designed to gain approval of the document

  • The Lesbian and Gay Movement’s statement of conviction affirms that, “human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.” It follows that it is our “conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex, but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.”
  • LGCM identifies with the published priorities of the LGBTI Mission as providing the basis of a safer, more just and equitable church in which all can flourish
  • We are not demanding that everyone sees things from our perspective, but that there should now be decisive moves towards a ‘mixed economy’ in the established Church of England in which we all have an interest
  • The very least we were looking for from the Bishop’s report to General Synod was action to assure the safety and well-being of LGBTI+ people both within the Church of England and beyond it. Medical research shows that LGBTI+ people carry a higher burden of mental health problems corresponding with social isolation and stigma; these are heightened in a community that pathologises LGBTI+ identities
  • The Report was a betrayal of the trust vested in the House of Bishops during the Shared Conversations process, and opens the way to a single, very conservative interpretation of these matters being introduced
  • In the absence of any action being recommended by the bishops to move to greater inclusion of LGBTI+ people in the life of the Church of England through liturgical, theological or doctrinal change, we have no confidence that the change of ‘tone’ and desire for ‘maximal freedom’ will be seen
  • The report itself has been a retrograde first step in that direction, with the vice chair of reflection group, Bishop Pete Broadbent, acknowledging that ‘it is a pretty conservative document’ to his clergy
  • Our understanding is that the majority of members of synod were looking to the College and House of Bishops, when they took the initiative to respond to the Shared Conversations process, to lay a path for a process of change, perhaps setting a programme of activity to realise some of the priorities articulated by the LGBTI Mission
  • We have no confidence that their stated intention to revise the Church of England’s document ‘Issues in human sexuality’ or the pastoral advice that clergy have for their engagement with LGBTI+ persons will lead to development in the safety provided for LGBTI+ people within the church, let alone lead to progress in affirmative pastoral support
  • We believe that progress to these can only be made when the Church of England formally recognises and affirms the theological diversity that is already present within its members
  • Our analysis is that contribution of the Bishops’ reflection group has not led to a report that reflects the mind or expectations of the Church of England’s synod, that at least minimal change take place; to this end, we ask members of synod to refuse to take note of the Report, indicating their dissatisfaction with its recommendations
  • Further, we understand that Synod members are to be asked to take part in group conversations before the debate to prepare the ground for an acceptance of what the bishops are proposing. LGBT synod members and their supporters have already participated in the Shared Conversations process at last summer’s Synod sessions, and for many also at a regional level. They have made themselves vulnerable for questionable outcome. To ask them to submit to any kind of further examination of the issues is both pointless and insulting and we urge all Synod members to refuse to take part in such group work
  • We ask members of synod use the ‘take note’ debate to ask the bishops to respond to the priorities of the LGBTI Mission.
  • In particular, we ask for a guarantee that acceptance and approval of theological diversity amongst members of the Church of England in these matters will be formally recognised
  • To enable this small move forwards we ask, not for further reports, but that the House of Bishops devise a commended liturgy which recognises and affirms LGBT partnerships as a blessing and gift of God

Tracey Byrne, CEO, LGCM
Jeremy Pemberton, Chair of the Board, LGCM
31 January 2017

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