In a letter sent to all clergy and lay ministers in the diocese, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave; the Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Geoff Annas; the Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory; and the Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Rt Revd Mark Rylands, emphasise that everyone has a place at the table.
The letter updates clergy on discussions underway in the national Church on the radical Christian inclusion called for by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and draws attention to the work being done on a major new Teaching Document.
In Lichfield Diocese, Bishop Michael has convened a consultation group for LGBT+ Christians to share their views and concerns, and this has met several times.
The letter concludes: We want Lichfield to be a diocese in which people of any sexual orientation or gender identity feel welcomed and honoured in our churches.
It focuses on the pastoral dimensions of the issues involved and says: … as bishops we are committed to encouraging people with differing views to meet, pray and talk together. The letter does not address the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriages.
The bishops highlight the practical consequences of radical Christian inclusion locally including the importance of access for all to Baptism and the Lords Supper, the affirmation of LGBT+ people in roles of leadership and the importance of mission to and alongside LGBT+ people.
Our basic principle is that all people are welcome in Gods Church: everyone has a place at the table, the bishops say.
The Diocese of Lichfield has almost 600 churches in an area with a population of over two million which includes Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the Black Country and most of Shropshire.