Services for same-sex couples, independence in safeguarding, dignity of disabled children: Synod papers published

20/06/2024

Outline proposals on the wider use of prayers asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples are published today ahead of the annual summer meeting of the Church of England’s General Synod in York next month.
Members of the General Synod listen to a debate at the University of York's Central Hall Sam Atkins / Church of England

Possible arrangements for the use of the Prayers of Love and Faith in standalone services alongside delegating episcopal ministry and a foundational work to provide a timetable towards a decision on clergy in same-sex civil marriages are also set out as part of broad package in outline proposals designed to help hold the Church together amid deep disagreements over questions of sexuality.

Prayers of Love and Faith are already in use as part of regular services in some churches such as a Sunday eucharist or evensong. But Synod will consider whether and how they might also be used as special services in their own right for a trial period as well as related questions.

The proposals are set out in papers detailing business for the upcoming meeting of Synod from July 5 to 9 at the University of York.

Legislation to be discussed includes first consideration of a measure to overhaul the Church of England’s national governance structures.

Synod will also have the opportunity to debate proposed models for greater independence in Church safeguarding. These  follow independent reports by Prof Alexis Jay, the former chair of the Independent Inquiry on Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and the barrister Sarah Wilkinson.  

And members will scrutinise legislation to create a national redress scheme for victims and survivors of Church-related abuse.

There is also a private member’s motion calling for an inquiry into allegations of abuse and cover-up within the Soul Survivor network.

Synod will debate a motion brought by the Diocese of Liverpool on the human dignity of disabled children. The motion challenges the assumption that “bringing a disabled child into the world is a tragedy to be avoided” and calls for more support and advice for families during pregnancy and after birth.

The Bishop of Leicester, Martyn Snow, the lead bishop for the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process, said: “Working closely with people from across our different traditions and theological convictions over several months to develop these proposals I have been struck again and again by an enduring commitment to the unity of God’s church, even amid deep differences over questions of sexuality.

“There is much still to work out in detail but I believe these proposals provide an outline of how we might move forward together.

“It will require realism, give-and-take and a recognition that, as Christians, we hold a variety of views on these questions, all of which are held with integrity and all of which deserve respect.”

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