Response to the General Synod debate, November 2023
RESPONSE TO THE GENERAL SYNOD DEBATE ON THE
HOUSE OF BISHOPS’ PROPOSALS IN GS2328, NOVEMBER 2023
The Convenors of Inclusive Evangelicals welcome the decision of the Church of England’s General Synod on 15th November 2023 to continue its path of finding ways to serve and bless LGBTQIA+ people.
We are grateful for the way the debate was chaired with grace and wisdom and for Bishop Sarah’s leadership. Whilst many contributors of differing perspectives sought to put over their points sensitively in a tense debate, we are saddened and concerned that some of the voices in opposition to the motion still reverted to the kind of language which is deeply offensive and hurtful to all of us, and especially to LGBTQIA+ Christians, opening up deep wounds. This made it very plain that some within our Church, including some evangelicals, have yet to realise fully the dangerously damaging effects of homophobic language and thus to join fully in the repentance voiced in February’s debate.
We ask the House of Bishops to act promptly on the Synod’s decision and to commend, for an experimental period, the standalone services, along with the rest of Prayers of Love and Faith for immediate use. Inclusive Evangelicals, as an umbrella group, stands with all whose testimony and voices have been heard from the LGBTQIA+ community in the LLF process and call on the House of Bishops to maintain faith with these precious members of Christ’s flock.
We look forward to receiving the third section of the Bishops’ pastoral guidance which we hope will remove restrictions currently placed on queer clergy and ordinands in the Church of England who wish to enter into same sex marriages. All of us so called, whether gay or straight, should be able to fulfil our dual vocations from God both as faithful ministers of the Gospel and as faithfully married people.
We are encouraged by the bishops’ words in the debate that the legal protection of consciences for those with differing convictions is clearly on their agenda. This is not a time for institutionalising dissent through differentiated ecclesiastical structures or financial arrangements, as some are calling for. We believe many evangelicals taking a different view to us on inclusion also want to remain fully within the Church of England. This is a time for understanding and compassion and for seeing Christ in one another - men and women, straight and queer - reaching out as evangelicals with genuine differences but with a common love of the Scriptures and a desire to witness for Christ in our nation. We pray that the lives of faithful LGBTQIA+ Christians may offer an example here for all, as people who have not been offered the opportunity to lead or minister, bless or be blessed, yet who have stayed faithful within the church and served alongside those who have said ‘no’.
As Inclusive Evangelicals we believe what unites us as evangelicals and indeed with the wider church of England is greater than what divides us. We are committed to remaining together. We will walk this biblical path seeking to do so faithfully with all who seek to love and serve Christ.
Revd David Runcorn Revd Jody Stowell Revd Canon Simon Butler Revd Marcus Green Revd Charles Read Revd Dr Nicholas Bundock Revd Steve Hollinghurst Ven. Malcolm Chamberlain Revd Canon Kate Massey