The bishops of the 26 million-member Church of England will soon permit same-sex couples to receive specific prayers and blessings for their relationships, the Church revealed on January 18, 2023, in a statement titled, “Bishops propose prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and for God’s blessing for same-sex couples.”
Additionally, the bishops of the church will issue an apology letter later this week to “LGBTQI+ people” for the “rejection, exclusion and hostility” they have faced in Anglican churches.
The moves come after a six-year “period of listening, learning and discernment” for the Anglican Communion which was known as “Living in Love and Faith.” The proposals will be outlined at the church’s General Synod next month.
It will “offer the fullest possible pastoral provision … for same-sex couples through a range of draft prayers, known as Prayers of Love and Faith, which could be used voluntarily in churches for couples who have marked a significant stage of their relationship such as a civil marriage or civil partnership.”
Despite these moves, the Church of England said that it is not changing the Church’s doctrine of Holy Matrimony. Not yet at least. However, the Church said their apology letter will “speak honestly about their [the bishops] ongoing disagreements over the possibility of changing the Church’s teaching on marriage itself” (emphasis added).
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who serves as the leader of the Church of England and the ceremonial head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, said that the letter “reflects the diversity of views in the Church of England on questions of sexuality, relationships and marriage – I rejoice in that diversity and I welcome this way of reflecting it in the life of our church.”
However, the archbishop said that he was under “no illusions that what we are proposing today will appear to go too far for some and not nearly far enough for others.”
In response to the Church of England’s new statement on homosexuality, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), which is a series of conferences hosted by conservative Anglican bishops, issued a subsequent statement authored by Archbishop Foley Beach, Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council.
“I write to you with a heavy heart as we are hearing of the continued Crisis of Leadership and Faith coming out of the Church of England,” Archbishop Beach wrote.
Once again, our Western Anglican Provinces continue to ‘go their own way’ on matters of faith and practice without consultation or concern for the majority of Anglicans around the Global Communion. Their actions not only deny holy practice, but reject the authority of Scripture, the teaching of the historic church, and the consensus of the Body of Christ from every tribe, tongue, people and nation alive today.
The archbishop said he could not help but ask the following question: “What is next?”
What are the faithful in England and around the world to do now that the mother Church has departed from biblical faith and morality? We cannot follow the Church of England down this path which leads to spiritual and moral bankruptcy…
GAFCON has a better story to tell: the story of our Lord Jesus who has and is rescuing us from brokenness (and often ourselves) and His unmistakably gracious offer of salvation which calls us ‘into the light’ where repentance and trust mark a new, right relationship to God through Christ. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus can be saved (Romans 10:13).
Recently, at least five Anglican bishops, including two prominent ones, have converted to Catholicism over the Church of England’s increasing liberalization.
The former bishops include Gavin Ashenden, Jonathan Goodall, Peter Foster, John Goddard and Michael Nazir-Ali, the later of whom claimed that the Anglican Communion is “now set on a course of just being another liberal Protestant denomination.” Nazir-Ali formerly supported and spoke at several GAFCON conferences.
The 85 million-member Anglican Communion, like many churches, has become increasing divided over matters pertaining to sexual morality and homosexuality. Vicky Gene Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church back in 2003. And recently, Bingo Allison became the first openly “non-binary” priest in the Church of England.
Concluding his letter, Archbishop Beach asked his readers to pray for the “faithful followers of Jesus in the Church of England as they struggle to fight and repel this false teaching which has been thrust upon them. Let us also pray for their bishops and leaders that God would turn their hearts to return to His ways.”
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