Now that the LLF resources are published, what happens next?
The Bishops of the Church of England invite worshipping communities across the country to use the LLF resources to learn together during 2021. They hope that congregations will consider learning together with people who have different perspectives and lived experiences, perhaps by joining with another church nearby. They hope that deeper relationships between people who differ in their lived experiences and perspectives will be forged as a result of learning together using the LLF resources.
Importantly, the Bishops are themselves committed to learning using the resources and to listening to what is emerging as worshipping communities across their dioceses feed back and reflect on their learning. This will enable the whole people of God to feed into the Bishops’ discernment for the Church in 2022.
Why should church communities engage with the resources?
Learning together using the LLF resources is part of a new process of discernment involving Church of England churches. It is a unique opportunity to play your part in the life and direction of the Church of England. It is about being open together to hearing what God is saying to the Church of England today.
How and when will church communities engage with the resources?
Congregations are diverse, so there is no single model for using the resources. It will be important for churches to work out what is best in their particular circumstances. Church communities might choose to use the LLF resources in midweek small groups, for example, or as part of a Lent series, or on special away days. The resources could also be used by PCCs, deanery gatherings or clergy conferences and diocesan synod meetings. They might be used in lay leadership training contexts as well as in the context of ministerial or discipleship programmes.
Churches will also need to decide when is the best time for this engagement, in the light of their yearly pattern of activities and, especially, in the light of the uncertainties raised by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Engagement will need to be during 2021 so that processes of discernment and decision-making can take place in 2022.
What support will there be?
A Living in Love and Faith Next Steps group has been formed, led by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally. The task of this group is to:
- Encourage participation in using the LLF learning resources as widely as possible
- Listen attentively to what is emerging from the learning across the diocese
- Explore possibilities for our life together as a Church
- Plan into the future as discernment leads to decision-making in 2022.
The Next Steps group will support dioceses:
- with facilitation resources and training to help churches create safe spaces for learning
- in promoting the creative sharing of feedback and reflections from churches’ learning together
- by coordinating initiatives and sharing good practice
- by helping bishops and their senior staff to capture and listen to the emerging learning across their diocese.
The Next Steps group will encourage each diocese to appoint one or more ‘LLF Advocates’ who will be supported by the Next Steps group and whose responsibility will be to encourage as much participation as possible in their diocese.
Finally, the Next Steps group will rely on a Reference group of diverse people across dioceses to assist them with their work.
Who are the members of the Next Steps group?
- The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally (Chair)
- The Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev Jonathan Baker
- The Bishop of Grantham, the Rt Rev Nick Chamberlain
- The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Dr Tim Dakin
- The Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Rev Karen Gorham
- The Bishop of Ripon, the Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley
- The Bishop of Warrington, the Rt Rev Bev Mason
- The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen
- The Bishop of Bradwell, the Rt Rev Dr John Perumbalath
- The Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Rev Rod Thomas
- The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher
The Next Steps group will rely on a Reference group of diverse people across dioceses to assist them with their work.
This group is made up of ‘grass roots’ people who are actively involved in the life of the church, the group acts in an advisory capacity to the LLF Next Steps group of bishops in order to:
suggest contextually sensitive, practicable and creative ways of enabling church communities to participate in LLF learning activities;
suggest creative and contextually sensitive ways of enabling church communities to communicate their learning and experiences to the wider church as a result of engaging with the LLF resources;
act as a ‘diversity sounding board’ for the Next Steps Group’s plans and outputs;
be alert to occasions where misconceptions or anxieties about engagement with LLF may need to be addressed.
The members of the group are as follows:
- Andrew Lightbown
- Tracey Huizinga
- Julie Withers
- Simon Burrows
- James Nash
- Rachel Price
- Emily Watson
- Jan Moore
- Esther Prior
- Emma Brae
- Andrew & Gerhard Smith
- Julian Sampson
- Chris Page
- Alison Booker