The Church of England has announced the next stage of its ‘Shared Conversations’ on sexuality which aim to promote greater mutual understanding, reconciliation, and the possibility of developing ‘good disagreement’ in the Church.
David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director of Reconciliation, has been preparing the ground for such conversations for the past 2 years and the House of Bishops met for 3 days last year to pilot this conversational approach.
It will now be rolled out in 13 Regions across England over the next 12 months or so before the process comes to General Synod in July 2016. Each Shared Conversation will last 3 days and have a wide spectrum of views represented. More importantly, there will also be 2 or 3 LGBTI people from each diocese participating.
Accepting Evangelicals welcomes this new development for the Church of England. Benny Hazlehurst said, “This process is deeper and more wide ranging than the CofE has ever engaged in before and we pray that good will come out of it for the whole Church.”
Jayne Ozanne said to Christian Today this week that it was critical for the Church to create forums where people of different views could engage “safely” with each other. “For me, Jesus embodied grace and truth. It is about grace, and understanding the hurt of those who hold a different point of view. For too long this has been a hot issue, a theological debate which has been a battle of words. When you embody these words in experience and personal testimony as we see Jesus did, I believe they take on a new meaning and authority.”
Full details and resources for the Conversations have been published on a dedicated website http://www.sharedconversations.org/
We would encourage Anglican members of Accepting Evangelicals to offer to take part in these Conversations by writing to their Diocesan Bishop.