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.
Since the February and November 2023 General Synod motions 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 process evolves.
Prayers of Love and Faith
The first section of the Prayers of Love and Faith, referred to previously as the ‘resource section’, has been commended by the national House of Bishops for use in regular public worship or private prayer from 17th December 2023. The final texts can be found via the Church of England website here Prayers of Love and Faith to be made available for use from Sunday | The Church of England
A link to the pastoral guidance relating to the use of the Prayers can also be found via the Church of England website as above. This includes guidance relating to church life in local contexts, addressing such questions as how local decisions should be made about using or not using the prayers, transparency, the pastoral care of LGBTQIA+ and same sex attracted people, and the handling of conflict and disagreement. The guidance will evolve as the prayers are put into use.
Further pastoral guidance
Pastoral guidance relating to ministry is yet to be issued. It will address how clergy will be expected to fashion their household according to the way of Christ.
Threaded through the whole of the LLF process is the theme of pastoral reassurance. This includes proposals for a collective statement by the House of Bishops that seeks to provide a consistency of approach nationally but retains individuals’ freedom of conscience; the proposal to set up an Independent Reviewer, which can be consulted in the event of concerns that individuals are not being treated fairly; and the setting up of the Pastoral Consultative Group to help address difficult questions or situations as they arise.
Additional Pastoral Provision
There is a call from some clergy and churches for formal structural pastoral provision to be put in place at a national level, for those for whom pastoral assurance is not sufficient, and who believe that the Prayers of Love and Faith represent a departure from the church’s doctrine of marriage and teaching on sexuality and sexual intimacy. The House of Bishops is continuing to consider this matter at a national level. In the meantime, details of the additional pastoral provision to be offered in the Diocese of London and how to request it can be found here.
In response to the vote in relation to Living in Love and Faith at the General Synod in February, a number of parishes decided to pause their 2023 Common Fund contributions, awaiting the outcome of the proposals and debate at the November Sessions. The outcome of the November General Synod will not have allayed the concerns of those parishes.
Please see here for guidance relating to Common Fund payments going forward.
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.
In order to assist churches who are trying to work out how to have good conversations around Living in Love and Faith, CPAS have recorded a webinar exploring nine principles that can help with such conversations, in which they also share a Padlet board of best practice and ideas along with some resource handouts. The webinar is called ‘Leadership Principles for having good conversations when there is disagreement’ and is available to watch on You Tube 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