Bishop Stephen's letter following General Synod vote

The Bishop of Salisbury, Stephen Lake, has written to all clergy in the Diocese of Salisbury, following yesterday's vote in General Synod to approve prayers for God's blessing on same sex couples. You can read his letter below. 

The Bishop of Sherborne, Karen Gorham, spoke on BBC Radio Solent Dorset about the decision, and the long period of listening and discussion that led up to it. Listen to her interview here (25 minutes in).

Bishop Stephen's letter: 

Dear sisters and brothers,

This week, as you will know, General Synod has been meeting in London.  This follows what many said was an honest and informative session at our own Diocesan Synod last Saturday.  You can read a short report of that synod session on our website.

It has been a challenging General Synod for all involved and for the whole church.  I want to offer my deep appreciation to our excellent Synod representatives who have conducted themselves with dignity and partnership, in prayer.  Despite how it may be portrayed in headlines or on social media, in my experience the Living in Love and Faith debate was one of quality, sensitivity and grace.  Views and concerns were aired over a nine-hour debate which went into a second, unplanned day.  One Member of Parliament commented on social media that Parliament could perhaps learn from the General Synod on how to do such things!

Please find the national press release and the amended motion here.

I made clear at our Diocesan Synod that I intended to vote for the motion and after listening to the long debate I did so, in company with the majority of each synodical House.  I believe this motion, now passed, provides a way forward for the Church of England, offering greater pastoral care and welcome to those in a same sex relationship and keeping intact the existing doctrine of Holy Matrimony.  I know that those who hoped for no change or for greater change will be disappointed with the outcome and I have heard the pain and grief that has been expressed by many on all sides.  This has not been an easy road for anyone.  Yet I believe that, over the whole lengthy process of Living in Love and Faith, we have modelled a new way of coming together, seeking to listen and understand one another more deeply, which will bear fruits in so many different ways.  I thank God for the willingness of all those in our communities who have journeyed so courageously with us over these past few years.

There is now much to do as we consider together how the decision will be lived out well in the months and years ahead, in integrity and with good conscience.  I will ensure that you are kept informed of any discussions in the House of Bishops, as the draft texts of the prayers are considered in the light of contributions from General Synod.  Draft prayers and pastoral guidance will be brought to the July Synod, and no prayers should be used before they are formally commended by the Bishops.  

I want to say again to you that those who wish to use the Prayers of Love and Faith and those who choose not to will receive equal support from me as your Bishop.  I pray we may now have a time of reflection rather than reaction, and a reliance on well sourced information rather than rhetoric.

My most earnest prayer is for you and those in your care.  Please also pray for me, and for Bishop Karen and Bishop Andrew.  As we pray for each other, may God in Christ bless us all.



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