OneBodyOneFaith Responds to Eleven Evangelical Bishops
Today OneBodyOneFaith has responded to eleven evangelical bishops who have written to the Bishop of Coventry, The Right Reverend Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Living in Love and Faith project currently being undertaken by the Church of England.
You can read their letter here and our response below:
The letter released by a handful of bishops aligned with the Church of England Evangelical Council produces few surprises, either in contents or signatories. That the church comprises of individuals with a variety of views on issues of faith and relationships is hardly breaking news. What may come as news to these bishops is that the evangelical world has moved on – indeed, perhaps this letter arises out of the fear of recognising just this reality. They no longer speak for all evangelicals; their sisters and brothers still hold their evangelical identity dear but have been courageous and open-hearted enough to see a bigger God emerge, God powerfully alive in LGBTI+ people and longing to be known as good news for all, without exception.
What is both disappointing and disingenuous is that these bishops should seek to undermine the Living in Love and Faith process currently under way, committed as it is to shining a light on the places in the church where the Spirit is moving, where LGBTI+ people are flourishing and we’re learning how to live with difference even within the church’s current teaching. It undermines the collegiality of the House of Bishops and rides roughshod over the restraint and grace demonstrated by those of widely differing views but committed to seeking God’s grace and truth in this complex area of our shared humanity. The mention of ‘new structures’, veiled threats of schism, the crude and cynical drawing in of global perspectives and the misrepresentation of the situation in ECUSA are exactly the kind of sabre-rattling no-one needs right now.
LGBT people have become all too accustomed to consultations and processes which culminate in little change because of a lack of courage on the part of our leaders. We are hanging on by our fingertips to this latest project – an act of faith, hope and charity on our part, and at some considerable cost. For many of us, the price has been too high, and we have left the church, carrying wounds to our faith, our souls and our very selves.
Over the coming weeks and months, it will be for the other members of the House of Bishops, in all their diversity of opinion, to hold these eleven of their sisters and brothers to account. But ultimately we must all answer before God for those we have drawn to faith, and perhaps especially for those we have turned away, blocking the movement of the Spirit and diminishing the Body of Christ. These eleven bishops might well ponder that truth.