LLF Final Stage – Write to your bishops

An Equal Campaign Action

Summary: LLF is entering its final stage, ‘Discernment and Decision’, in which the bishops meet to reflect on what LLF has done so far and to recommend a way ahead for General Synod. We are now asking you please to contact your local bishops (even if you’ve done this before) and encourage them to deliver a clear proposal to enable same-sex marriage in the Church.

The Background

The Living in Love and Faith (LLF) project looking at issues around sexuality and identity is drawing towards its close. After years of reflection, study, discussion and listening it is now in a final phase called ‘Discernment and Decision’. The Campaign for Equal Marriage, in partnership with inclusive members of the General Synod Gender and Sexuality Group, are hoping that this final phase will dismantle some – hopefully all – of the institutional barriers to full inclusion for LGBTQIA+ people in the Church of England. To make sure it does we need your help.

Between now and the end of the year, all of the bishops in the C of E will be meeting together to reflect on what LLF has done so far and to recommend a way ahead for the General Synod (the church’s Parliament). Feedback on LLF shows that most people are wanting a clear decision, with many hoping for equal marriage in the church.

We need everyone who hopes for a more inclusive church for LGBTQIA+ people to contact their local bishops and encourage them to deliver this. To help you do this we have included some recommendations on what you might write about, and a list of contact details of bishops across the church.

What to write about

That’s up to you! If you want some suggestions, there are some ideas below. It is important that our bishops hear first-hand what the LGBTQIA+ community in the church and their supporters are hoping for the future of the church. We would like them to hear your first-hand experiences, whether you are LGBTQIA+ or an inclusive ally.

In particular you might want to share a personal story such as:

  • Wanting to marry in church but not being able to do so
  • When the church has been a welcoming and supportive community for you or LGBTQIA+ people
  • When the church has not been a supportive place or has sought to exclude LGBTQIA+ people
  • Any experiences of exploring a vocation to ministry as an LGBTQIA+ Christian
  • What belonging to a church means to you.

Hopes for the future

As LLF will conclude with the General Synod being asked to consider ways the church could change, we want you to explain what your hopes and fears for the future are. These might include:

  • That there is a clear decision on the direction of the church so people know where they stand
  • That clergy wanting to conduct same-sex marriage services in church should be able to
  • That all LGBTQIA+ people should be valued and treated equally in our churches, in all roles and at all levels
  • Selection processes for ministerial roles not treating people differently because of their sexuality or gender identity
  • Clergy who are married to someone of the same sex being able to have a licence to minister within the church
  • That a more affirming and inclusive church will be taken more seriously and be better equipped for mission and ministry to our nation
  • That bishops are more open about their personal views. They have asked the church to be open and vulnerable through the LLF process, now we need our bishops to do the same in being open and honest about their own views.

Who to write to

The main thing we are asking is for you to contact the bishops in your local diocese. We are providing a list of bishops and their email addresses to help you do this. It is a list of all the serving bishops in the Church of England, arranged by diocese with suffragan/area bishops listed after each diocesan. Diocesan bishops are in bold type. Please consider writing to all the bishops in the diocese where you live or worship.

When you write, be polite and constructive – we want to engage with our bishops, not browbeat them. Try to be clear and concise: don’t go on for pages. And assure them of your prayers as they grapple with these complex issues.

Doing more

If you are wanting to do more we recommend the following:

  • Encourage other inclusive Christians to write to their bishops. We need the grassroots to speak up, so share this with people you know.
  • If you are a priest or licensed Reader, maybe you could preach about these issues to your church and then encourage members of your congregation to write to the bishop.
  • If you are a serving priest in the church (licensed or PTO) and would be willing to marry a same-sex couple in church when the rules allow, sign up to say so here: https://ring.cofe-equal-marriage.org.uk/solemnize-ssm. This is another campaign action by Equal, and will help to show the support for inclusive change in the marriage rules.
  • If you are not a priest, but you know clergy who are inclusive, encourage them to sign up at https://ring.cofe-equal-marriage.org.uk/solemnize-ssm.
  • You can also sign up to be a Supporter of Equal and receive regular campaign updates here: https://cofe-equal-marriage.org.uk/support-the-campaign/sign-up-supporter/
  • And something everyone can do – please pray. Pray for our church, for our bishops, for LGBTQIA+ people across our country, and for those who are working for a positive, inclusive change in the life of the church.