Ad clerum from Bishop Sarah
Over the past few weeks, it has been wonderful to meet people from right across the Diocese. During my visits to each of the episcopal areas, I have been inspired by the work of our parishes, churches and schools, our clergy, laity, and communities. I have experienced a flavour of the diversity at the heart of London. What I have witnessed has confirmed my belief that the diversity of church tradition here is part of our strength and, in it, we find unity.
However, I recognise that unity does not just happen. So, today, the London College of Bishops is releasing the new version of the London Plan. For more than 20 years, the Plan, originally devised by Bishop David Hope, has served to hold together those of divergent and opposite theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate. The Plan has been revised previously, and is always re-signed when new Bishops join the London College of Bishops.
Over the past few months, the College has been shaping the Plan to take account of my appointment. It has been a creative conversation, one in which we have explored our theological distinctives, and where we have sought to create the right climate for the Diocese to be a place of mutual flourishing within the House of Bishops’ Five Guiding Principles.
The Plan makes space for parishes who are not able, on theological grounds, to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests to be afforded appropriate episcopal ministry. It also confirms the alignment of the Diocese of London with the Church of England’s understanding that all orders of ministry are open equally to all, without reference to gender. It is our hope that what we have forged together in London might serve as a paradigm for other Dioceses, and for the whole Church of England.
You can find the new Plan on the website at https://www.london.anglican.org/about/the-london-plan/.
We believe it provides a framework within which those who hold sharply defined differences about the ministerial priesthood can live together in simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality. We are praying and working together for a Diocese where there is genuine commitment to – and experience of – mutual flourishing in our ministry, and where we can find unity in our diversity.