To The Diocese of Gloucester,
I know that many of you will have been following discussions at General Synod over these last few days, and in many ways, there has been a profound sense of dislocation as we have discussed important issues regarding the Church of England while being so deeply aware of the unfolding devastation in Turkey and Syria. We continue to pray for those people and communities amid such immense bereavement, loss and trauma.
Against this background I want to acknowledge the array of thoughts and emotions among people across the Diocese following the debate focused on same-sex relationships. The final motion which was passed is contained within the following press release as are the voting figures. I do encourage you to read it carefully.
There is still much work to be done, not least as pastoral guidance is shaped, so I want to reiterate what Bishop Robert and I wrote in our letter in January: ‘Our strong hope and prayer is that you will acknowledge your initial reactions and then be committed to a slower prayerful and reflective response over the coming days, weeks and months’.
Furthermore, we want to echo the words of the Archbishops and the Bishop of London regarding unity and difference. As we said in our January letter, ‘Every individual and worshipping community across a range of theological views has an equal place in this diocese. It is important that communities and individuals, not least our lay and ordained leaders, can live and express different views as a matter of conscience, whilst always treating one another with love, respect and humility. As your bishops, we will ensure that our commitment is lived out in practice and is not mere words.’
The Diocesan Synod meets tomorrow and there will be some space on the agenda for discussion together.
As we continue to talk, listen and pray in our local contexts and more widely, may we discover yet more of what it means to be members together of the body of Christ. In the joy and pain of that may we hold fast to the truth that Christ ‘ is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace by the blood of his cross.’ (Colossians 1: 17-20)
As I personally continue to reflect on General Synod, please be assured that this comes with my heartfelt thanks and prayers,
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