EFAC Global calls for prayer for General Synod

Jul 3, 2024 by

The General Synod of the Church of England will be meeting in York from the 5th to the 9th of July 2024.

There will be presentations and questions on the Living in Love and Faith report on Saturday afternoon (6 July) and a 5-hour session on Monday afternoon (8 July).

The paper to be discussed is 31 pages long, but the Executive Summary is as follows:

  1. These proposals are in outline form and will require constructive and wide engagement as they are developed in detail. The core elements of those emerging proposals are:
    • To remove the restrictions in the current pastoral guidance on using the Prayers of Love and Faith for a three-year period of discernment.
    • To introduce alongside this a model of specific and defined delegation of episcopal ministry, so that those on all sides of the debate, who feel they require it, can request care from a bishop whose ministry they are in conscience able to receive, supported by an Independent Review Panel to assess where practice departs from agreed principles.
    • For more work under the aegis of the Faith and Order Commission on the nature of doctrine to enable further conversations on whether to remove current restrictions on clergy being in same-sex civil marriages, for decision by the House of Bishops in early January 2025 and to be presented at the February 2025 General Synod.
  2. It also sets out how these proposals might be given effect, including through a Bishops’ Statement and a Code of Practice, both for development in detail if the General Synod is content with this direction of travel. Annex A outlines some potential principles of extended/delegated episcopal ministry and some possible further areas for consideration; Annex B outlines how an Independent Review Panel might be established and implemented; Annex C is a note on the legal position.
  3. The paper presents the outline of an overall proposal without detail and underscores the need to develop this detail through ongoing engagement and consultation. What is sought is a generous space where all can thrive and where different theological convictions are honoured, recognising also that there are many congregations where a diversity of views are held.

This is a crucial time for the Church of England as many orthodox members of the church represented by the Alliance have written to the archbishops to express dismay:

“We have seen the proposed agenda for General Synod (including GS 2358) and note the intention of the House of Bishops to proceed with plans that are clearly contrary to the canons and doctrine of the Church of England, in particular Canon B30 where the Church of England affirms, “according to Our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better, for worse, until death do them part, of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others on either side.” What is proposed is clearly indicative of “a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England in an essential matter”.

Please pray for all orthodox members of synod, bishops, priests and lay, as they seek to promote a clear, Biblical view of marriage and sexuality.
Pray for the sessions in synod, the side conversations, the legal discussions and the people chairing the meetings.

Undoubtedly, we are in a spiritual battle (when are we not?), and we need to pray for the protection of God, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and the love, humility and grace that only come from a close walk with the trinitarian God.

Warm regards in the gospel,

Bishop Stephen Hale (Chair)

with Bishop Henry Scriven (General Secretary) and Bishop Keith Sinclair (Chair of Trustees)

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