Modern Church welcomes the result of the vote in General Synod this week not to 'take note' of the House of Bishops report on Marriage and Same Sex Partnerships after the Shared Conversations.
By rejecting the motion to take note of this report, the General Synod has sent the Bishops back to the drawing board.
Most telling among the many reflections leading up to and during this landmark debate were these:
the House of Bishops was attempting to manage the situation rather than leading.
the 'roadmap' their report offered was not a route toward 'good disagreement' for those putting the case for inclusion.
the bishops had not adequaltey heard the lived experience of LGBT+ people in the church, their families, friends and supporters, and had not catered for their aspirations for equality.
the report did not take account of different theological and biblical perspectives.
We are but a few years on from the defeat of the Anglican Covenant by the English Dioceses and the General Synod. This second major defeat can mean only one thing - it is time for the House of Bishops to bring forward legislation which will enable all LGBT+ Christians, whether single, in a civil partnership or married, to be treated with equality in the life of the church.
What might this look like?
Modern Church also welcomes the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement calling for:
a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church... founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology... based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and... a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.
We look forward to continuing to work to support the excellent and active work of LGBTI Mission, Inclusive Church and One Body One Faith, as they work with the whole church and with the Bishops to discern the way ahead.
Listening to the Synod debate, some of the parameters of a new settlement seem to be clear:
An authorised liturgy for the blessing of same sex relationships (civil partnerships and civil marriages).
The end of intrusive questioning for those in or aspiring to ministry who are in a civil partnership or are married to someone of the same gender.
A 'mixed economy' whereby no minister is expected or compelled to act beyond the limits of their own or their congregation's conscience.