The General Synod’s vote “not to take note” of a Report by the House of Bishops on the report on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships :
Contrary to headlines in the media, the General Synod was not voting on same-sex marriage. The Synod was voting on whether or not to ‘take note’ of the framework the bishops were outlining for a way forward. The motion to ‘take note’ was not carried.
It was an excellent debate and a place of encounter. Indeed, throughout the meeting of Synod there has been the opportunity for conversation and the deepening of relationship. For me, that will always be important because in discussing human sexuality we are not merely discussing theological viewpoints – we are talking about people’s lives and our life together.
During the debate people were ‘taking note’ of the contributions of different members of Synod, expressing the enormity of our differences on this matter. Speeches were heartfelt and the pain in the Body of Christ was palpable.
As I said in my speech yesterday, all the bishops had agreed to present this report to Synod as a framework for a way forward, bringing into focus the common ground on which we could stand together. However, it was not presented either as a unanimous view or as the end of the process. It was a place to pause and to hear the responses and reflections of the Synod in the hope that more work could then be done.
The next steps are not yet clear, but as a member of the House of Bishops I am certainly not despondent. As the Archbishop of Canterbury stated yesterday “.. to find ways forward, we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.
“We need to work together – not just the bishops but the whole Church, not excluding anyone – to move forward with confidence.
“The vote today is not the end of the story, nor was it intended to be. As bishops we will think again and go on thinking, and we will seek to do better. We could hardly fail to do so in the light of what was said this afternoon. ”
In the Diocese of Gloucester we continue to share and discover yet more of life in all its fullness as offered to us in Christ, and I echo what Archbishop Justin has said about the way forward: It needs to be “about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.”
Thank you for your prayers. You remain in mine.
Bishop Rachel’s speech at yesterday’s Synod – 1:32:57 – 1:36:00 https://soundcloud.com/the-church-of-england/wednesday-15-february-marriage-and-same-sex-relationships-after-the-shared-conversations
Link to national statement http://bit.ly/2laENn5
Link to the Archbishop of Canterbury statement: http://bit.ly/2kVLFGz