Back in February, you may recall that I was encouraging church members to take part in the Living in Love and Faith course that has been devised by the Church of England to consider how identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage fit within the bigger picture of the good news of Jesus Christ. Also, what does it mean to live in love and faith together as a Church?
Six members from the South Craven and Wharfedale Deanery have now completed the pilot course and feedback is being given to Bishop Helen-Ann who leads on the topic for the Diocese of Leeds.
The course comprised listening to story films with people who were in same sex relationships; transexual; celibate; married or divorced; and it was humbling to hear their stories. Bible teaching was extensive and there was opportunity for discussion.
Here is some information from the course material:
“Currently, the Church of England continues to marry opposite sex couples and to recognise civil heterosexual marriages. Committed cohabiting relationships, civil partnerships (same- sex or opposite-sex) and same-sex marriages are not regarded as marriage in the church’s teaching. The church aspires to welcome and provide pastoral support to all, whatever their relationships, but does not have approved services to celebrate any relationships other than marriage according to the church’s teaching.
The course is asking us whether we consider this to be the right approach? Could local churches respond differently? Should the church’s doctrine on marriage change?”
These are all challenging questions and the course offers a structured approach to help us think these through and asks us to listen to the voice of God as we seek a way forward for our life together as the Church of England.
The participants welcomed the opportunity to to learn more and discuss these questions that they felt were so relevant to life today within their families, friends and colleagues. More courses will be offered over the rest of the year, please do consider taking part and wrestling with these issues!
If you wish to have a conversation, please get in touch.
To find out more about the project, please go to https://www.churchofengland.org/ resources/living-love-and-faith.