The Church of England, at its recent General Synod made a decision to have its Liturgical Commission, the body responsible for overseeing prayers and services, look into the subject of gender neutrality over the next five years. Whatever decisions are made by the Church of England will have no bearing on the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to Diocesan Bishop Laish Z. Boyd.
“The Church in the Province of the West Indies of which we are a part is a separate, independent member of the world Anglican Communion of which the Church of England is only one member. Decisions made by the Church of England have no bearing on us. We are not compelled to accept or to agree with any decision made by them,” said Boyd in a press release.
The Commission had been considering the subject of gender neutrality in language since 2014 in the context of a wider discussion on gender identity, sexuality, human relationships and marriage.
The Bishops in the Church of England have authorized certain prayers to accompany the dialogue themed, “Living in love and faith.”
Boyd said the basic discussion about gender neutrality is not new and has been going on globally for decades in the religious and secular world.
“It has yielded such basic changes as referring to firemen as firefighters, stewardesses as flight attendants, policemen as police officers, clergymen as clergy persons – to recognize the fact that these officers can be male or female.
“The English Church made a decision to continue a discussion. It has not decided to change immediately (or at all) – the wording of the Lord’s Prayer or any other liturgical language – contrary to what some press reports suggest.
“It is unfortunate that the media have latched onto a few key words (coming out of a church gathering), associating gender with God, without reference to the wider dialogue mentioned above. The ongoing discussion is a discussion, but no conclusions have been arrived at,” the bishop said.
The Church of England is one of 46 separate and independent provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
At its recent General Synod (annual general meeting or national assembly) held in February, it made a decision to have its Liturgical Commission, the body responsible for overseeing prayers and services, look into the subject of gender neutrality over the next five years. The Liturgical Commission will work along with the Faith and Order Commission in the study.
“It is our hope that despite the challenges before us we will be able to maintain unity within the Worldwide Anglican Communion,” said Boyd. “We pray for and we work for this.”