On 9 October 2023, the House of Bishops met in London to discuss the Prayers of Love and Faith. At the meeting, the bishops agreed in principle that prayers asking for God’s blessing for same sex couples, as part of public worship, should be commended for use.
The House of Bishops also agreed that structures for special services for same sex couples, based on Prayers of Love and Faith, should be formally authorised under canon law via route B2. This process, expected to take until 2025, would involve consultation with every diocese and require approval by General Synod.
They confirmed that new draft pastoral guidance would be split in two – the first half, setting out how the system could operate will be brought to next month’s meeting of Synod – the second half, looking at matters in the life and work of clergy and lay ministers, would happen later.
Pastoral reassurance and formal structural pastoral provision will also not be ready until after General Synod.
In response Revd Canon John Dunnett, National Director, CEEC, said: “The news that the House of Bishops has agreed to commend the prayers asking for God’s blessing for same sex couples is deeply concerning. The House of Bishops seems intent on pushing full steam ahead toward something that is contrary to both Scripture and the historic and apostolic teaching of the Church of England.
“The press statement from the Church of England is slippery, at best, on several central matters and can be read in a number of ways. I am concerned that the House of Bishops might be pulling the wool over the eyes of the General Synod by planning to introduce changes through the pastoral guidance after November that are tantamount to doctrinal hand grenades.
“More than ever, we are convinced that the only way ahead for the Church of England is to pursue a settlement for differentiation that protects and provides a safe space for those on both sides of the debate”.