CAPTION: The Living in Love and Faith course features video interviews with a number of people about their relationships

Why Living in Love and Faith Matters to Me: A Churchwarden’s Point of View

Posted: 18th October, 2021

Gillian Parker is the former Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police. She lives on Dartmoor and is churchwarden of St Mary’s church in Holne. Here she shares her thoughts about the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process and why it is important for churches and individuals to engage with it:

“There is an elephant in the Church of England room.  In fact, there is more than one elephant, but the elephant that is about questions of identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage and their relationship with the good news of Jesus Christ, is not only large, but in my view, more important than the other elephants currently vying for our attention.

Important, because unlike issues of parishes and governance, this is about people.  It is about our friends, neighbours, relatives, the marginalised, the persecuted, the misunderstood, the lonely, the angry and the seekers.

There is a Living in Love and Faith book, a five-week course and lots of other resources

From my perspective, if the Church does not take the opportunity to address these issues now and reach some conclusion, the elephant will get bigger and become more destructive, distracting, and divisive.

But what an opportunity it is!  The Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process provides a unique stimulus to explore how we can have difficult conversations within our church communities and beyond.  It will help us to reach a point, not necessarily of consensus, but of mutual understanding and respect of others’ positions about a range of issues.

For some, LLF will give an insight into the challenges that LGBT+ people face in their daily lives and enhance our ability to understand and respond better to others in love and understanding.  It could also be a learning experience about humanity and Christian thinking concerning those whose lives and experiences are different to our own.

Of course, LLF is a challenge and may require courage to get involved.  Equally, whatever decisions are made, there will be serious consequences.  But that is not a reason to stand back and not get involved, whatever your starting point may be.

In terms of the outcome, I would draw a simplistic parallel.  I admire a lot of what the Roman Catholic Church does and what it stands for.  However, I have difficulty with the dogma of transubstantiation.  I cannot, therefore, take Holy Communion at a Roman Catholic Mass.  If the teaching were different, I might become a Roman Catholic.  But it isn’t.  Importantly, I know where I stand, and I worship elsewhere.  Whatever decisions are made, people will respond accordingly and go where their conscience and faith takes them.

Archbishop Justin Welby has said, “First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ. Second the church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration.”

The Church of England needs to determine a stance to provide clarity and certainty both to its current membership and prospective membership.  Not to do so will seriously detract from what the Church was created to do. As the laity, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to shape the thinking on this issue because we will have to live with the consequences.  This is why I believe it is important to engage and participate while we have the opportunity to do so.”

We are planning to run a number of articles about the Living in Love and Faith process over the next few months. If you would like to share your point of view about why Living in Love and Faith (and the subjects it covers) is important to you, please email llf@exeter.anglican.org and a member of the communications team will contact you.

 

 

 

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