A special Diocesan Synod has been held to update members on the national progress of Living in Love and Faith and to explain the next steps.

Living in Love and Faith (LLF) has been taking place for the last 24 months across the whole of the Church of England. It is a national discernment process aimed at helping the Church to move forward with decisions around issues relating to human sexuality and marriage.

The meeting, which was held at Holy Trinity, St Austell and lead by the diocesan LLF team, was attended by 25 people in person, with another six synod members joining via Zoom.

The Rt Revd Hugh Nelson, Bishop of St Germans, who has chaired the team, welcomed members before setting out the process. He was clear that the meeting was not to decide on the questions facing the church, but rather to ensure clarity around the next steps of LLF as well as learning together as a synod how we can live well together with difference.

Bishop Hugh said: “It maybe we all agree about everything, but the chances are that we don’t! Difference isn’t a problem; it is an essential part of being human. The question is, what do we do about it? How do we live well with our differences?”

Following a screening of a video highlighting people’s experiences of LLF and Lectio Divina led by Revd Steve Robinson, a LLF team member. Revd Rose Jones, another team member, introduced ideas from the new ‘Difference course’, about how to develop the art of living with difference. The course, developed by experts in reconciliation, highlights the importance of being curious, being present and reimagining what might be possible.

Synod members were then split into groups with discussion focussing on experiences of remaining in unity with those with whom they disagree, and working together as the Church takes the next steps.

Members were then invited to share feedback with the meeting.

Concerns were raised about people being forced to think the same, but while there were quite different perspectives on same sex marriage from people of different traditions, the majority advocated for an approach that allows for difference of belief and opinion but that is inclusive and enables all to know Jesus and be loved.

During the meeting there were questions about whether diocesan synod would vote on the matter of gay marriage. It was confirmed that this was a decision for General Synod and would not be voted on locally at diocesan level, although there was always a space for members to present motions for discussion and debate at Diocesan Synod.

Bishop Hugh said: “Nobody knows what the outcome will be and where we will end up – what we can be sure about is that, whatever the outcome, this has been a brave and very thorough process, and is a unique way for a church to consider a profoundly difficult topic.”

The Church of England is deeply split around issues relating to human sexuality and marriage and that has been the case for many years now.

In 2019, the House of Bishops and General Synod committed to a different kind of process, on the basis that, as a Church, we were stuck. What followed was a carefully thought through process of discernment – Living in Love and Faith.

LLF invited the whole church to engage in brave conversations about what it means for us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to be human and to live in love and faith with one another. Everyone who took part in a small group was invited to share their feedback with the LLF team.

Alongside a huge wealthy of resources, small groups were brought together to explore the bible and Christian teaching, contemporary culture and their own experience, all with the invitation for group members to have courageous conversations, including with people who see and think differently.

The Diocese of Truro has six General Synod members. If you would like to speak to them about LLF or any other matters, you can find out more here.