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Synod meeting to focus on implementation of Prayers of Love and Faith

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In February of this year, Synod agreed a motion welcoming the texts and calling on The House of Bishops to further refine and commend them for use in the Church of England, together with new pastoral guidance and proposals for pastoral reassurance.

Earlier this month, The House of Bishops agreed in principle that the Prayers of Love and Faith should be commended for use, also concluding that special services for same-sex couples, based on the Prayers, should go forward for consideration to be formally authorised under canon law. Synod also voted for no change to the doctrine of the Church of England around marriage and sexual intimacy.

In November, Synod members will be presented with the work that the House of Bishops has carried out on the Prayers of Love and Faith since February. They will also have the opportunity to discuss the draft pastoral guidance, specifically supporting the Prayers, which has been shared for the first time.

The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, who has co-chaired the Living in Love and Faith steering group, said: “This twin-track approach means that prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples will be available for use in church very soon, as Synod has asked. A means of offering special, standalone services for same-sex couples will go forward to be considered for formal authorisation at a later stage.

“While we do not all agree about questions of marriage and sexual intimacy, a long period of discernment has shown that a majority of people would like to see a change in the Church of England’s approach to same-sex relationships. Based on what the Church has told us, no change is not an option.

“There are those who would like to see us go much further, and those who believe we are going too far. Yet we have expressed our heartfelt wish to remain together as one Church. The pastoral provision must protect and value both those who struggle so much with this that they need reassurance, and those who wish to place same-sex relationships before God in prayer.

“In other words, it will be ‘both and’, not ‘either or’. We are implementing what Synod asked us to, prayerfully and with the hope of God’s Grace.”

Papers for the November 2023 Group of Sessions were published and sent to members today.

Synod will consider and vote on the first consideration of the draft Redress Measure which makes legal provision for the creation of a national redress scheme for victims and survivors of Church-related abuse. This delivers on the commitment made by the Church in its response to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The draft Measure lays the groundwork to deliver a Scheme which offers redress in a range of forms including apology, acknowledgement, therapeutic, and financial support to survivors of abuse perpetrated by a person acting under the authority of the Church of England. It makes provision for a single ‘redress body’ to deliver the Scheme and also makes provision for the financing and includes further details of the Scheme’s operation.

The Bishop of Winchester, Philip Mounstephen, chair of the Redress Project Board, will introduce the draft Measure and take questions from members.

The Measure is expected to return to the Synod for the Revision Stage in July 2024 followed by the Final Drafting and Final Approval stages.