London Diocesan Synod: Living in Love and Faith
Diocesan Synod met on Wednesday 22 March 2023, with a dedicated session on Living in Love and Faith (LLF), providing the opportunity for members to listen to each other’s responses to the six-year journey of LLF and the way forward agreed by General Synod earlier this year. Through group work and plenary discussion, members from across the Diocese contributed their thinking about the national House and College of Bishops’ response to ‘Listening in Love and Faith’ and how churches in London Diocese can continue to live well together, even where they may disagree.
The Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally, said:
“The LLF journey has been a truly emotional one. Together we have witnessed a range of raw responses, often drawing upon profound lived experiences and deeply-held theological convictions. We have heard stories and reactions of joy and sadness, of rejection and belonging. Above all, as we continue to listen carefully to one another, I would ask that we do so with kindness, love and respect, whether in person, or online.
“There are those who believe that our unity as Christians depends on our agreement on certain doctrinal issues, including those around sex and sexuality. Then there are those who believe that unity is possible and desirable even if we disagree. Both of these approaches can be argued from scripture. My own position is that God is calling us to live with our current disagreements. The Church of England has always been an intentionally and uniquely broad church. However, we must continue in our conversations and to hear each other’s deeply-felt concerns, all of which will feed into the ongoing national process.
“As the London College of Bishops, we would reiterate that among ourselves we hold a broad range of perspectives consonant with Anglican teaching and tradition and are committed to work together and stand in collegiality. We are confident that this will enable us to offer appropriate episcopal pastoral and sacramental oversight for all in the Diocese.”
In response to questions from Synod members, Bishop Sarah talked of how the Prayers of Love and Faith are a pastoral response shaped by the national House and College of Bishops’ study of the scriptures and borne out of their response to those individuals and groups across the Church of England, who have studied the scriptures and fed back to the Living in Love and Faith process. Clergy will be free to choose whether or not to use the prayers, and it is hoped that they will be finalised by the July General Synod and commended for use.