Meeting in London on 13-15 November 2023, General Synod voted in favour of special services of prayer and dedication, asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples.
The motion contained an amendment tabled by the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, to bring forward the standalone services based around texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF).
Prayers of Love and Faith is a collection of prayers, readings and other resources for praying with and for a same-sex couple who love one another and who wish to give thanks for and mark that love in faith before God. General Synod heard that Prayers of Love and Faith are likely to be in use as part of existing services by mid-December.
Wednesday’s amended motion means that the special standalone services based on PLF could be authorised for use sooner, but temporarily, under separate legislation. That would enable the first standalone Prayers of Love and Faith services to take place in churches at the same time as the process of seeking permanent authorisation is under way.
Speaking in favour of the amendment, the Very Revd Mandy Ford, Dean of Bristol said: “We all know that the presenting issue before us, namely the Prayers of Love and Faith is a proxy for deeper underlying differences concerning our interpretation of Scripture, our understanding of authority, and our vision of the church. And yet in other aspects of our communal life, we accommodate deep differences in our theology of headship, of Holy Communion, and of Salvation. Since the Elizabethan settlement, we have accommodated these differences, because some of us believe that the Church of England is richer as a result.”
Alongside the Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Viv Faull and Dean of Bristol, the Very Revd Mandy Ford, the Diocese of Bristol was represented at General Synod by the Revd Canon Alice Kemp, the Revd Paul Langham, the Revd Kat Campion-Spall, Dr Brendan Biggs, Mr Ed Shaw, and Miss Abby Scott.
The Bishop of Bristol will be writing a pastoral letter to all license-holders in the Diocese in the days following Diocesan Synod (taking place on Saturday 18 November), to provide further details on the preparations for these services, and how this might look in the Diocese of Bristol.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The motion passed, as amended, was:
The Bishop of London to move:
'That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides are being deeply hurt at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, encourage the House to continue its work of implementation, and ask the House to consider whether some standalone services for same-sex couples could be made available for use, possibly on a trial basis, on the timescale envisaged by the motion passed by the Synod in February 2023.'
The voting on the final motion was:
Bishops: 23 for, 10 against, 4 abstained
Clergy: 100 for, 93 against, 1 abstained
Laity: 104 for, 100 against, 0 abstained