Living in Love and Faith

The Church of England has published a landmark set of resources to help individuals, parishes, deaneries and dioceses, reflect on our shared humanity and sexual identity.

The product of three years’ work by more than 40 people, led by the Bishop of Coventry, Living in Love and Faith includes a 480-page book, a series of films and podcasts, a course and an online library of other publications, in what is thought to be the most extensive work in this area by any faith group in the world.

They follow an appeal by the House of Bishops to the whole Church of England to participate in learning together, using the resources for open, honest and gracious discussion, listening and learning.

All the resources can be found on the Living in Love and Faith Learning Resource Hub

Conversations to be supported across the Diocese

In a letter to clergy, lay ministers and other role holders in the Diocese, both Bishop James and Bishop Simon have commended the materials:

"When work first began on Living in Love and Faith, no one could have imagined the changed and challenging context within which their endeavours would be received. Yet as we wrestle with many questions at this time, reflection on identity and relationship will always be present and important. 
 
"Our recommendation is, therefore, that we take time to read and reflect on the materials, individually and together, seeking to listen to all sides of the debate, as we engage with one another, scripture and society with open-heartedness and integrity. 

In order to support the whole diocesan family with this process, there are plans to offer some diocesan organised opportunities in 2021 for conversation and listening with the help of the materials – the shape of these will inevitably be determined by Covid-19 restrictions at the time.

The bishops have also encouraged that our listening and conversation to be one of grace and compassion:

"These issues go to the heart of what it means to be human, and especially touches upon the lives of people who feel marginalised by the Church, so we should debate with compassion and sensitivity, seeking prayerful wisdom from God and aiming at all times to show the fruit of the Spirit as St Paul describes it in Galatians 6; that is, with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

"Some may wish to engage with the material promptly, that is fine too. Whichever way is best in your context, we hope you will be involved with the discussion."

What happens now?

It is anticipated that the period of church-wide learning and engagement will take place during 2021. The House of Bishops will then bring the discernment and decision-making to a timely conclusion in 2022 which would then be put before Synod.

A group of bishops, chaired by the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, will lead the process of discernment and decision-making about a way forward for the church in relation to human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

Several groups within the Diocese have organised events for those who would like an early opportunity to explore the Living in Love and Faith materials. Please find more details below:

 

  • Rochester Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship - Tuesday 10 November at 1pm: A Zoom gathering to view the new resource video on issues of sexuality and gender: 'The Beautiful Story'. Hear from representatives from the Church of England Evangelical Council about the Living in Love and Faith resources. For more details and for the Zoom link, please contact: rochesterdef@gmail.com 
  • Living in Love and Faith MoSaic conference - Tuesday 17 November, 9.30am to 1pm: An online conference launching the  Rochester branch of MoSAIC - Movement Supporting Anglicans for an Inclusive Church -   and introduction to the Living in Love and Faith materials. Speakers will include Dr Eeva John, of the Living in Love and Faith Project. For more details click here.

 




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