On 20 March Jayne Ozanne sent a letter to the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, who is Chair of the LLF Next Steps Group. The next day Jayne publicly tweeted a summary of the letter and a scanned image of it.
The Equal Campaign welcomes Jayne’s letter and its two suggestions:
- to ask the Faith and Order Commission to produce a paper on the role of conscience and its place in our ecclesiology, and
- to ask the Next Steps Group to reflect on “who pays the price” [i.e. the LGBT+ community] for a strategy that is focused on “unity at any cost”.
We very much hope that Bishop Sarah and the Next Steps Group will accept these helpful suggestions and implement them.
Here is the text of Jayne’s letter:
Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally
Chair, LLF Next Steps Group
20 March 2023
I write with the support of my trustees following the Synod debate on the bishops’ Living in Love and Faith proposals to share two recommendations that I hope the Next Steps Group will consider.
Firstly, may we thank you and Eeva for your tireless work over the last few years to enable us to have the debate that we did last February. We know that few will ever understand the cost to you both personally of having to hold the tension of a Church that is so bitterly divided over this, and it is a testament to your deep faith, grace and ability to model servant leadership that we are where we are.
With regard to the debate itself, we would suggest that the one thing it showed beyond any measure of doubt is that there are two sizeable groups on Synod that have totally irreconcilable views not just on sexuality, but also on theological matters to do with salvation and the Good News of Jesus Christ. This has been known for decades, as all involved in these years of discussions will testify. Neither ‘side’ is going to acquiesce, although it is a matter of fact that one ‘side’ currently holds all the power and refuses to make room at the table for ‘the other’. This refusal to accommodate ‘the other’ continues to cause deep pain and offence to a significant number of Anglicans across the country and is, we believe, why so many refuse to have anything to do with the Church of England. We know that you are acutely aware of this, but we believe it is worth restating as it informs our first suggestion.
it appears obvious to most, save those who are dedicated to defending the status quo, that we must move to a place where we can accommodate the role of conscience in all matters to do with sexuality – as indeed we are doing with the proposals to bless two individuals in a same-sex relationship. We believe the time has come to make it clear that if there is no respect for conscience, then we have reached the limit of what true Anglicanism stands for. Might it be therefore an idea to ask the Faith and Order Commission to produce a paper on the role of conscience and its place in our ecclesiology?
We are aware that you have committed to bringing some Pastoral Guidelines back to the July Synod, which will finally enable the Prayers of Blessings to be used. We know that there will be attempts to delay, obfuscate and even block these guidelines, but we urge you to be resolute in your timings. Those who are directly impacted by these discussions have waited long enough, and what is now at stake is the trust and credibility of those appointed to lead us, namely the House of Bishops itself. People are rightly asking why these discussions have not already been undertaken over the past six years – given that all knew we would have to answer these pastoral questions at some stage, particularly those to do with sexual intimacy and whether clergy can themselves be married. We fear that if we do not proceed as anticipated then there will be a motion of no confidence in the bishops.
We also urge you to prioritise taking care of the most vulnerable – the LGBT+ community – for they are the ones who have paid the highest price throughout all this. We would therefore ask the Next Steps Group to reflect on “who pays the price?” for a strategy that is focused on “unity at any cost”. A paper addressing this question would be very welcome for those who have felt invisible for too long.
Please be assured of our ongoing prayers as you continue to steer us through these turbulent times.