Prayers of Love and Faith and the dilemma facing the House of Bishops

Jan 18, 2024 by

by Julian Mann, Christian Today:

The Church of England’s House of Bishops, which has just started publishing more detailed accounts of its meetings, appears to be losing its nerve over launching standalone services of blessing for same-sex couples.

The ‘Summary of Actions and Decisions’ from the meeting on 12 December 2023 posted on the revisionist Thinking Anglicans website records that the bishops failed to come to a decision on the standalone services.

The bishops have started publishing summaries of their meetings after facing criticism from General Synod members for not being transparent enough about their deliberations. Thinking Anglicans observed that the summaries are “much fuller than the usual bland press release”.

November’s General Synod narrowly voted for a proposal from the Bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, to ask the House of Bishops to look at introducing the standalone Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) services on an experimental basis under Canon B5 of the C of E’s rules. The standalone services would then have to undergo a formal Synod vote at a later date requiring a two-thirds majority in favour under Canon B2.

It is not clear from the bishops’ statements whether the vote would take place before the elections for a new Synod in 2026 or after. In the present Synod the services would not get a two-thirds majority for permanent authorisation. So, if a vote were held before 2026 and the services had been commended experimentally, they would have to be withdrawn amidst a storm of controversy.

The December summary records: “Noting that the House had previously voted in favour of seeking authorization of the Prayers of Love and Faith standalone services under Canon B 2, and that the Synod had asked the House to reconsider whether other options might be possible, for example experimental authorization under Canon B 5A, the BISHOPS OF LEICESTER (Martyn Snow) and NEWCASTLE (Helen-Ann Hartley) led the House in a discussion of the options. No decisions were made.”

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