Faith is often expressed in having the passion and the conviction to share, to be enabled to speak in one’s own voice about their future and the future of the Church they belong to and care about. We were delighted to see this come to light in the discussion between The Right Revd John Gladwin, the former Bishop of Chelmsford, and the Revd Dr Charlie Bell.

As the last of the evening light spilled in through the stained-glass windows, dappled shards of coloured light were cast across those seated in the pews of the Lady Chapel, a place that has hosted a variety of services for different Christian denominations. In the same spirit of encouraging ecumenism were the themes presented in the Revd Dr Bell’s book Queer Holiness and the gift of LGBTQIA people to the Church, which follows the narrative of gay clergy who are required to live celibately in civil partnerships. Besides seeking revelation within scripture, the Revd Dr Bell’s background in psychiatry also gave a great deal of nuance to the talk, exploring how the Church should respond to the natural and social sciences, especially when considering procreation, marriage and intimacy.

Following how this greater understanding of the social sciences can strengthen one’s faith, Bishop John Gladwin then shared some poignant examples of social reform and legislation throughout the 20th century. Alighting on the focus on ‘The Family in Contemporary Society’ at the Lambeth conference in 1958 and the Divorce Law of 1966, Bishop Gladwin noted these as instances that, fundamentally, revealed marriage as a relationship. In viewing the sacred union that is granted in this rite through a sociological lens, the evening’s conversation was then deemed a necessary response to the General synod earlier in year and as a preface to the decisions to made about the legality of blessing prayers for same-sex couples at the House of Bishops. All those who attended the talk were invited to witness a profound recognition of how we are all invited to the table of the Lord and to encounter a measured reflection on the remarkability of Christian hope and how openness, honesty, integrity can be placed at the centre of the church’s vision for all people.

Photograph: The Right Revd John Gladwin, the former Bishop of Chelmsford, and the Revd Dr Charlie Bell.

Article written by Isabelle Lepore, Learning and Events Assistant.