LLF is the most extensive research into this area by any church, and was designed to enable a period of church-wide learning and engagement to take place during 2021.
Since the February 2023 General Synod motion relating to Living in Love and Faith, the London College of Bishops have been listening to the responses and concerns expressed across the Diocese. They will continue to do so as the General Synod revisits LLF and the Prayers of Love and Faith in November.
Some of the issues raised can only be addressed at a national level. This is happening and the conversation is focussed on the following areas (the work was initially undertaken by several groups which have now merged into one):
- theological and doctrinal matters
- questions relating to clergy discipline; ecclesiastical law; equalities legislation
- pastoral guidance
- pastoral reassurance
Locally there is concern about how clergy will be supported in their leadership and decision-making regarding the ‘Prayers of Love and Faith’, and how parishes will be resourced to have good conversations where there is a variety of views, lived experience and theological positions.
The following section responds to that question, signposting online resources and ‘people resources’ for the support of clergy, PCCs and congregations.
It may be that for some individuals and parishes the first port of call will be the Living in Love and Faith resources themselves. Those who have not yet explored the hub may find the LLF Course, book, videos and podcasts helpful. Others may already have made full use of these but perhaps not yet seen the resources used by the national House and College of Bishops in their discernment and decision-making, which can now be found here.
If you are looking for resources which address the same issues as the Living in Love and Faith initiative but from a particular church tradition, it may be possible to point you in the right direction. Please contact us via the email address email@example.com and describe what you’re looking for, in case we know where you might find it!
For parishes wanting to explore how to have difficult conversations well, the Pastoral Principles, developed specifically for this purpose, can be found here.
The Difference Course is another resource provided by the national church. It is downloadable free of charge, and aims to equip us ‘to see transformation through everyday encounters in a complex and divided world’.
Some clergy may feel that they would benefit from a conversation with a colleague who has wrestled personally with the issues involved in Living in Love and Faith, or has navigated the discussion well in their own parish, perhaps particularly in a context where people hold different perspectives.
Others might want to explore the possibility of accessing facilitation for a group discussion in their PCC or congregation. You might be looking for someone with the appropriate skills from outside of the parish context.
If you would like to be put in touch with a colleague for a conversation, or a facilitator to explore possibilities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to match you with someone who can help.
We would also be grateful to hear from any of you who are willing to be the ‘conversation partner’ to a member of clergy exploring these issues.
Please do be reassured that whether you are asking for group facilitation or a one to one conversation we will do our best to connect you with somebody who understands and respects your tradition and perspective. The intention will be to enable you to have the conversation well, and that it can be a good, positive and safe conversation within your particular context.
Pastoral Care of LGBTQIA+ and same sex attracted people in all churches
Regardless of your church tradition you will want to ensure that LGBTQIA+ and same sex attracted people are welcome and safe in your congregation. You can find here a set of ‘good practice’ guidelines for the pastoral support of LGBTQIA+ and same sex attracted people in churches of ALL traditions, addressing a range of issues including the question of transparency relating to a church’s position.
Throughout the LLF process a team of chaplains has been available in the diocese to any lay person who would like to talk to somebody about LLF-related issues. Their details can be found here on the diocesan website: london.anglican.org/llf-chaplains
Behaviour on social media
Finally, concerns have been raised that clergy will be publicly shamed for using or refusing to use the ‘Prayers of Love and Faith’, perhaps particularly on social media. Again there is work being done on a national level to address this, but in the meantime in local discussions and conversations between clergy it may be helpful to refer to the Church of England’s Digital Charter and Social Media Guidelines.
Please do get in touch with any questions or requests regarding support or resourcing in relation to Living in Love and Faith and the Prayers of Love and Faith, via email@example.com