From the Vicarage
A 5-session course beginning Thursday, 1st July 2021, via ZOOM
How do questions about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage fit within the bigger picture of the good news of Jesus Christ? What does it mean to live in love and faith together as a Church? Christians in Devon are being invited to “listen and learn together” by running the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith course looking at these issues.
Living in Love and Faith (LLF) is a five-week course supported by a wide range of recourses prepared by the national church. The resources include a book, study guides, podcasts and a powerful series of real-life personal story films. The course book (see details later) begins with an invitation from the Bishops of the Church of England to embark on a learning journey. The course aims to help us think more deeply about what it means to be human and about how to live in love and faith. All around us we see changing understandings of human identity, changing patterns in relationships and families, changing sexual attitudes and activity. What does it mean for followers of Jesus to walk in love, faith and holiness today? Each of the five sessions explores a particular topic. An opening reflection about learning together is followed by two sessions of teaching, time for discussion, and a Bible study. The sessions end with an invitation to reflect on our learning, bringing it to God in prayer. The Church of England website says:
“The hope is for people in Church of England churches across the country to use the LLF resources to study and pray together. The resources are designed to encourage and enable engagement and learning in a variety of settings. This church-wide learning together, listening to one another, and listening to God is part of discerning a way forward for the Church of England in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. The purpose of the resources is to enable the Church of England churches across the country to participate in a process of learning and praying together as part of discerning a way forward in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
The Church of England is keenly aware that issues of gender and sexuality are intrinsic to people’s experience; their sense of identity; their lives and the loving relationships that shape and sustain them. We also know that the life and mission of our Church – and of the worldwide Anglican Communion – are affected by the deep, and sometimes painful, disagreements among us which have been debated and discussed on many occasions over the years.
These divisions have come into sharper focus because of society’s changing perspectives and practices, especially in relation to lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex people. The Church wants to understand what it means to follow Christ in love and faith given the questions about human identity and the variety of patterns of relationship emerging in our society, including marriage, civil partnership, cohabitation, celibacy and friendship.
The LLF resources explore these matters by studying what the Bible, theology, history and the social and biological sciences have to say, and by telling the real-life stories of followers of Christ with diverse experiences and convictions.
We hope that people in worshipping communities across the country will get involved and use the resources to learn together. That is why there is a range of resources in a variety of formats.
We believe that the Holy Spirit will be active among us as we pray, study and deliberate together to discover Christ’s call to the Church today. We do this with a deep sense of hopefulness for a future in which Christians can follow Christ together joyfully, fruitfully and with integrity.”
All the resources can be found at https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/living-love-and-faith. The course book “Living in Love & Faith” is also available from Church House Publishing.
If you would like to take part in the course (Thursday, 7.00 pm via ZOOM), then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and a ZOOM link will be sent to you. The course dates are:
Thursday 1st July 2021
Thursday 8th July 2021
Thursday 15th July 2021
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Thursday 29th July 2021
If you would like to know more before our course starts then Bishop Jackie is introducing LLF at an open meeting of the Deanery Synod on Tuesday, 15th June 2021 (7.00 pm onwards), via ZOOM, to which everyone is invited. If you would like a link to this meeting then please email email@example.com (Deanery Secretary) or me, on the address above.
As many of you will know from the announcement made at our Annual Parochial Church Meetings, I am to retire on the 31st October 2021, having been Vicar of Tavistock, Gulworthy and Brent Tor since January 2015. My final service will be held in Tavistock Parish Church on 17th October 2021 at 9.45 am to which everyone is very welcome. Following a career in finance and banking, I was ordained in 1992 and I have been very fortunate to minister as a priest and serve churches and people in a variety of places. It has been my joy and privilege to do so. After 45 years of work, I have chosen to retire this year, and whilst it is, understandably, a time of mixed emotions, I feel the time is right. I know I will miss you.
With my love and prayers