Living in Love and Faith (LLF) is a range of resources to enable Church of England churches across the country to participate in a process of learning and praying together as part of discerning a way forward in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. They are to be used within the guidance set by the Pastoral Principles which were developed as an important part of the process to encourage everyone to examine attitudes that can be roadblocks to learning together, and to loving and trusting one another. The Pastoral Principles are:
- addressing ignorance
- paying attention to power
- casting out fear
- acknowledging prejudice
- speaking into silence
- admitting hypocrisy
The LLF resources explore these matters by studying what the Bible, theology, history and the social and biological sciences have to say, and by telling the real-life stories of followers of Christ with diverse experiences and convictions. There are a range of resources in a variety of formats including a five session short course and a set of short films.
Getting the conversation started in Bath and Wells
It is anticipated that the period of church-wide learning and engagement would take place during 2021. The House of Bishops would then bring the discernment and decision-making to a timely conclusion in 2022 which would then be put before Synod.
Bishop Ruth, the Bishop of Taunton, said: “I welcome the opportunity these resources give us to listen and learn together to the voice of God and one another. Matters of identity, sexuality, relationship and marriage are foundational to good community and I encourage all of us to engage with the suite of learning materials with open hearts and minds, and with grace and compassion, over this next year.”
More information about learning opportunities in Bath and Wells will be available in the new year.
Archbishops acknowledge and apologise for ‘huge damage and hurt’
In a foreword to the Living in Love and Faith book, just one of the resources available, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, acknowledge and apologise for the “huge damage and hurt” that has been caused particularly to LGBTI+ people within the Church.
“At the heart of our failure is the absence of a genuine love for those whom God loves in Christ, knowing as God does every aspect of all of our lives,” they write. But addressing the future, they add: “Our prayer for the Church through this work is that collectively we demonstrate the same love to one another that we have experienced from God.”
The book opens with an account of how Jesus invited people to sit down together as he fed the 5,000. It notes how Jesus often sat down with people with radically different lives and views.
An invitation to the church
In their invitation to the church, the bishops say: “Our prayer is that as all of us, the people of God, take time to listen and learn together, our love for one another will be deepened and our faith in Jesus Christ strengthened so that His joy will be made complete in us.”