Statement from Bishop Martyn on his role as Co-Lead Bishop for LLF

I am deeply saddened by the Bishop of Newcastle’s decision to stand down from the role of Co-Lead Bishop for the Living in Love and Faith process. I greatly enjoyed working with her on this process and I want to express my personal thanks for her support and encouragement, and my respect for her decision to prioritise her ministry in her own diocese.

I took on the role of Co-Lead Bishop for the Living in Love and Faith process out of a sense of calling to bridge-building and reconciliation – both for their own sake and as a core part of our Christian witness. Having reflected on my position over the past couple of days, this sense of calling remains.

However, I recognise that confidence and trust in the Living in Love and Faith process is low, and that I cannot by myself rebuild that trust or command the confidence of the full breadth of the Church of England. So I have indicated to the Archbishops that I am willing to continue in the role of Co-Lead Bishop with several provisos: 

  1. Like Bishop Helen-Ann, my diocese is my first priority. I have been in Leicester eight years and the people and communities of this wonderful diocese know my views on LLF. They may not all agree with my views but we have had regular discussions at Diocesan Synod, in small groups and one-to-one conversations, and there is a high level of mutual respect. I will continue to prioritise these local conversations.
  2. The Archbishops will need to appoint a successor to Bishop Helen-Ann who commands similar respect across the House of Bishops and General Synod. It is important to model an approach of people with differing views working together.
  3. The Secretary-General will need to appoint a second Interim Theological Adviser to the House of Bishops so that there is a similar model of working together across difference. And the Co-Lead Bishops for LLF must be involved in the appointment of future Theological Advisers (we were not involved in the recent process). The Faith and Order Commission must remain a diverse group which resources the House of Bishops through careful, rich and nuanced theological work.
  4. I have asked the Archbishops to consider leading a time of prayerful reflection at General Synod which sets this whole process once again in the context of discernment about what sort of Church we are called to be in the coming years.

I remain committed to serving the Church as we seek a way forward which ensures that LGBTQIA+ people are accepted, valued and loved for who they are, and ensures that those who cannot in conscience use the Prayers of Love and Faith also have a secure place within the Church.

The commitments which will be brought to Synod later this month will do more to lay out the steps we need to take to improve the transparency and accountability of the Living in Love and Faith process. My prayers are for an honest, generous and prayerful debate.

First published on: 1st February 2024
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