Not Taking Note – General Synod Feb 2017

On January 27th 2017 the House of Bishops published GS2055, a Report on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations.

This was greeted with dismay throughout the Church for its harsh tone and content, which appeared to take no notice of what had been learnt and heard from the Shared Conversations process.

This was despite an open letter to the College of Bishops from over 130 lay and clergy members of General Synod on September 7th 2016, organised by Jayne and others, urging them to be unequivocal about the role of the LGBTI community to the health of the church (more information including press release is available here) .

Jayne, under pressure from the media for a reaction, issued an immediate personal response to the report, stating it was “Unbelievable, Unacceptable and Ungodly”.

She and others then worked to create a broad coalition of Synod members who also had grave misgivings about the report, and together sought to work towards a “no vote”.  This included working with 14 retired bishops who sent their own public letter to the bishops.

The debate on February 17th 2017 was aired on BBC Parliamentary Channel.  Jayne was called to speak  at 36mins (listen via video above), and in her speech called for a new level of honesty. She stated:

“Bishops, you have let us down. In my mind, many of you have put political expediency ahead of your principles.  You have chosen to blame synod for your decisions – using the excuse that you feared you cannot get a two thirds majority, and fearing a split. You chose not to lead but to manage. You didn’t tell us what you yourselves believe, and you  abandoned those of us who trusted you to do so.”

The vote was close but conclusive – it lost in the House of Clergy and therefore the report was “voted down”, meaning that it cannot be brought back for debate during the life of this Synod.

This resulted in the Archbishops publishing their own joint open letter that called for a new “radical Christian inclusion” within the church.

The media recognised the enormity of what had been achieved, with both laity and clergy choosing to vote against their bishops and archbishops:

Church of England in turmoil as synod rejects report on same-sex relationships – The Guardian, February 15th 2017

Church takes step towards gay marriage after vote rejects controversial report – Telegraph, February 15th 2017

Church of England one step closer to gay marriages in church: Vote against bishops’ report that supported ban is hailed as a victory by liberal clergy – Daily Mail, February 16th 2017

General Synod rejects bishops’ sexuality report – Premier, February 15th 2017

Clergy consign bishops’ report to the bin – Church Times, February 24th 2017

Sex and marriage dominate questions – Church Times, February 24th 2017

The original letter to the College of Bishops received much church press:

Church of England synod members call for ‘greater clarity’ around status of LGBT people – Christian Today, September 8th 2016

Pro-gay letters sent to College of Bishops – Church Times, September 9th 2016

Fresh pressure on College of Bishops to be more welcoming – Church of England Newspaper, September 8th 2016


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