EFCW Public statement following the meeting of representatives of the EFCW Executive with the Bench of Bishops on Tuesday 23rd November 2021 in Wrexham.
- The EFCW Executive were pleased to have been invited to meet the Bench of Bishops in a courteous two-hour meeting. The Bench and the EFCW representatives were able to openly explore current concerns over the introduction of the experimental same-sex blessing liturgy. We were in agreement that these are difficult times for the Church in Wales regarding the sensitive pastoral issues for both the LGBTQ community and those holding a traditional position. The Bench expressed that EFCW members were a valued part of the Church in Wales Communion.
- Regarding the conscience clause for the same-sex blessing service:
- EFCW was given complete assurance that the Bench would support the continuance of the conscience clause throughout the five-year experimental period, and said they would wish for it to continue beyond that time.
- For clergy who exercise the use of the conscience clause, the Bishops promised to be “sympathetic, sensitive, pastoral and generous”, though limited guidance was given as to how this might be shown, and that they did not want to have any ‘No-Go Zones’.
- On being asked about provision for the lay, the Bench did not have any particular provision for those who did not agree with the service, but they may explore this further as a Bench.
- Regarding the experimental same-sex blessing bill, the Bishops explained that “Experimental” means “Temporary until made permanent in this context” and was further clarified to mean that it is a period of time to ensure that the liturgy works well.
- Regarding introducing a same-sex marriage bill, we were told that the Bench was of one mind on this and that they would be starting discussions on its introduction shortly. No guarantee was given that it would not be introduced during the five-year trial of the same-sex blessing service.
- The Bench was clear in its understanding that the doctrinal change regarding same-sex blessing and marriage is a second-order or an “adiaphora” issue. EFCW are clear that this is a first-order issue, as it relates to how Scripture is used and interpreted and impacts on matters of salvation.
- In asking how the Bishops would help those in the Church in Wales to thrive who hold to a traditional understanding of marriage between a Man and a Woman, we received little assurance or guarantee. We were told that we are a valued part of the Church in Wales communion. This is an area where further discussion will be vital to support this faithful Anglican contingent of the church who hold to the same belief as the majority of worldwide Anglicans on this issue.
- The EFCW Executive were clear regarding the difficulties being experienced in remaining in the Church in Wales, where the church is being led in a direction that is of concern to many, not least as it is seen as contrary to God’s revelation.
- As expressed in the meeting, our hope is for a further discussion to explore how the Church in Wales can be a place where traditional Anglicans can thrive and remain with confidence.
EFCW Executive Committee 3rd December 2021