CEEC has joined a group of 11 organisations and networks in the Church of England in sending a letter to the Archbishops and College of Bishops this week, which outlines that it would be ‘unlawful, unconstitutional and illegitimate’ for the bishops to commend blessings for same sex couples without following the formal synodical approval process (Canon B2). The coalition’s networks and organisations connect more than half of the Church of England.
The letter, published by the Church Times this week, is signed by 27 leaders (in their own personal capacity), from a wide range of CofE organisations, including the HTB network, the Prayer Book Society, Forward in Faith, New Wine, Renew, Living Out and both the Catholic and Evangelical Groups on General Synod, among others. The letter and full list of signatories can be found here.
The letter argues that the Prayers of Love and Faith represent a ‘substantial’ and controversial change in a form of service and should be approved by Synod under Canon B2, whereby approval by two thirds of each of the Synod’s three Houses would be needed. The letter contends that pursuing the current process ‘renders the consultative and deliberative powers of Synod illusory in relation to a controversial and essential matter of substantial importance’.
The process being pursued for Prayers of Love and Faith is described in the letter as being beset with ‘ambiguities’ and is likely to cause ‘ecclesial discord’ and ‘legal exposure’. The letter states that failing to pursue Canon B2 would cause ‘disunity’ in the Church and bring it and its processes into ‘disrepute’.
The letter draws on the legal opinion of Dr Edward Morgan KC, who concludes that ‘any alternative route is likely to expose the Church of England, the Archbishops and the Diocesan Bishops to significant legal challenge’.
Revd. Canon John Dunnett, National Director, Church of England Evangelical Council and chair of the Evangelical Group on the General Synod, said: “This coalition is significant in its range and breadth. It brings together networks and organisations representing the majority of the Church of England. I hope and pray that our bishops will heed the concerns expressed.
“At CEEC, we have already expressed our concern about how the proposed Prayers of Love and Faith depart from Anglican doctrine and understanding. We now find ourselves having to be equally concerned at the process by which the bishops are hoping to get them approved. This is a moment for our bishops to preserve the unity of the Church of England rather than to force a change which will precipitate widespread pastoral damage and undermine confidence in episcopal leadership.’’