Group membership

In order to proceed with openness to one another’s differences and to the work of the Holy Spirit, we need people with the right subject expertise; we need LGBTI+ people; and we need people who hold different theological positions.

Who is involved?

A study of this breadth and depth involves bringing together many minds, voices, areas of expertise and different skills. In this first phase of work, four groups have been formed to explore issues of human identity, sexuality and marriage through the lenses of the Bible, theology, history and the social and biological sciences. A co-ordinating group is overseeing and drawing together the work of these groups as well as engaging with other churches and other faith communities. The Terms of Reference exhorts all these groups

“to work prayerfully, attending faithfully to holy scripture and acknowledging its authority, within the community, tradition and pastoral practice of the Church in the reality of the world using God’s gifts of reason and wisdom shaped by the Spirit, in order to seek and discern the mind of Christ for the Church and the world.”

The Living in Love and Faith project is commissioned by the House of Bishops. For this reason the groups are chaired by bishops and the Co-ordinating Group has five bishops as members, in addition to consultants (who are not bishops). The project is led by the Bishop of Coventry, who chairs the Co-ordinating Group, and involves regular engagement with bishops.


How have the members of the groups been chosen?

At this first stage of the project’s development, priority was given to finding people with the appropriate subject expertise, while also paying attention to achieving a balance of theological perspectives and representation by LGBTI+ people. In forming the individual groups, it has not always been possible to find both – although across the groups, there is a good balance. Naturally, not all members wish to disclose publicly their personal stories, their identities or even perspectives, so face value conclusions about representation cannot be drawn.

The task of the thematic working groups this year is to gather, study, synthesise and reflect on scholarship in their subject areas. The Terms of Reference for these groups also give space for appropriate external expertise. Some of the groups have already made use of this opportunity. Where there are gaps in expertise, the groups have welcomed suggestions of relevant peer reviewed material.

The Co-ordinating Group

This group has responsibility for designing and implementing the overall production of the Living in Love and Faith teaching and learning resources. In addition, the group is responsible for informing member churches of the Anglican Communion about the project and inviting their reflections on it. The group has embarked on a consultation with other churches and other faith communities with a view to learning from their perspectives, and informing them of our work.

The Co-Ordinating Group also has responsibility for the Wider Participation process.


The Biblical Studies Working Group

This group is exploring the scriptural foundations of our understandings of human identity, sexuality and marriage. They are also working on different ways in which the scriptures are interpreted and how this can lead to different conclusions about the authority of scriptures for Christians today. Among the topics that the group has worked on so far are:

  • Scripture, the image of God and the contemporary debate about sex and sexualities
  • Covenanted friendship
  • Identity, scripture and the human person
  • Readings of scripture on same sex issues
  • Family in scripture

The Theology Working Group

This group is exploring issues of human identity, sexuality and marriage through theological and ethical lenses. Among the topics the group has worked on so far are:

  • Theological Method
  • Big Picture Theology
  • Ecclesiology: inclusion, disagreement, authority
  • Missiology
  • Identity and Personhood “in Adam” and in Christ: Sexuality, Agency, Choice, Sin and Desire
  • On the Doctrine of Marriage: Christology, sacramentality, scripture
  • What is authority and how is it manifested in church, scripture and theological tradition?
  • What is the church’s and bishops’ teaching role in Anglicanism?
  • The place of experience

The History Working Group

This group is exploring how human identity, sexuality and marriage has changed through history and how the church has faced change over the centuries. Some of the topics that the group has explored so far include:

  • Doing history in the church today
  • The Reformation of Marriage: lay and clergy marriage after the Reformation in England
  • The Gift of Marriage
  • Marriage and sexuality in the law of Church and State
  • The teaching role of the Bishop
  • Anglican attitudes to polygamy: A case study
  • Societal change: Post-War perspectives and the Wolfenden Report
  • Changing ethical decisions in the Church

The Social and Biological Sciences Working Group

This group is gathering contemporary knowledge and research relating to social and biological aspects of human identity, sexuality and marriage. So far, among the topics that the group has explored are:

  • Lexicon
  • Current Sexual Attitudes and Practices in UK
  • Cultural and biological formation of sexuality
  • Homosexuality and Mental Health
  • The Relevance of Science and Medicine to the Questions We Are Concerned with

Click here for the membership of the Pastoral Advisory Group.