An Open Letter ....
A letter signed by over 600 evangelicals in the Church of England has been published today. In advance of the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod (which meets later this month) the letter -- published by the recently formed Inclusive Evangelicals -- backs the course of action which was approved by the Synod in February 2023. It throws its support behind the full authorisation of Prayers of Love and Faith (including the standalone services) ‘for immediate use’. It also urges the House of Bishops to issue the Pastoral Guidance (which will replace the outdated Issues in Human Sexuality) ‘as a matter of urgency’ in order to enable Church of England ordained ministers to marry, irrespective of the sex of their intended spouse. It rejects calls for structural differentiation to accommodate those who are unwilling to accept the changes proposed in GS2289, including alternative episcopal structures. However, it does affirm and support the need for legal protection for the consciences of individual ministers, whether they choose to use Prayers of Love and Faith, or whether, on grounds of conscience, they choose not to.
Today’s letter marks a significant change in the political landscape for the debate over Living in Love and Faith. The evangelical voice on LLF has been divided since the conservative evangelical Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) amended its basis of faith to stipulate a traditional understanding of marriage and sexuality. This in turn led to a split in the evangelical constituency on General Synod as the Evangelical Group on General Synod (EGGS) made a similar change to its basis of faith, leading to the formation of the Evangelical Forum on General Synod as a place where affirming and non-affirming evangelicals could continue to meet together.
Inclusive Evangelicals was formed in the summer to provide a unifying point for evangelicals who wished to welcome the place of LGBTQIA+ Christians within the full life of the Church. Since that time, the membership of its Facebook Group has grown to almost 1300 members. Its website (https://inclusiveevangelicals.com) provides resources, stories and a blog to help evangelicals who wish to explore the issue of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in a positive way, from a biblical standpoint.