Almost one third of the Church of England's General Synod members has signed a letter urging the church to make an "unequivocal declaration" in support of congregation members who identify as LGBT.
More than 130 members wrote to the College of Bishops, asking them to make the statement next Monday during a meeting in which the church's 'shared conversations' on human sexuality will once again be discussed. Activists who initiated the letter hope that this will be a step towards official same-sex blessings and eventually same-sex 'marriage.'
It follows a letter sent last month by 72 Synod members which urged the church to remain faithful to biblical teaching on the issue of sexuality.
The letter to the College of Bishops, which was signed by 69 members of the House of Clergy, including three deans and eight archdeacons, and 72 members of the House of Laity, states:
"We are keen that the College of Bishops is unequivocal in its acknowledgement that all, including those who identify as LGBTI, are essential to the health and future of our church and mission to the wider world."
Synod member and LGBT activist Jayne Ozanne said: "I think our bishops are aware of the strength of feeling on the need to be seen as a church for all. I do believe they know they can't fudge this any longer. It's time for them to give a clear and unequivocal embrace to a community that is hurting."
The House of Bishops will meet in November, and is likely to discuss feedback from the College of Bishops' meeting next week.
'Consistent with Scripture'
Last month, 72 members of Synod signed an open letter to bishops following the 'shared conversations' at July's General Synod, urging them "not to consider any proposals that fly in the face of the historic understanding of the church as expressed in 'Issues in Human Sexuality' (1991) and Lambeth Resolution 1.10."
Synod members stated in this letter that they are "committed to building a church that is genuinely welcoming to all people, irrespective of the pattern of sexual attraction which they experience," but emphasized that they would support initiatives to help local churches do this only "in a way that is affirming of and consistent with Scripture".
This letter also stated that it is "essential to clarify what it means to 'honor God with our bodies' (1 Cor. 6:20) in order that we do not find ourselves praying for God's blessing on that which is contrary to His will."
'Appeal to Secular Norms'
After July's Synod, Andrea Williams, and Wilberforce Director Dr Joe Boot, issued a statement in response to the 'shared conversations.'
They stated: "The outcome of the shared conversations was as many predicted: confusion, frustration, disappointment and division. The paucity of the biblical argument to support anything other than that of the Orthodox and presently held position was ignored. It was replaced by a simple appeal to secular norms."
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