Living in Love and Faith (LLF) is about encouraging the whole church to think more deeply about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in the bigger context of being human. It is an invitation to people, whatever their background and experience, to think more deeply about what it means to be human and to live in love and faith together. It’s about understanding different perspectives and each other better.
We hope it will change the way people relate to, understand and love each other in the church, even when we disagree. In a local context, it is about committing to a five-week or five-session course designed to help people to listen and learn together.
Questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage affect everyone, both inside and outside the church. As Christians, we have good news to share: we are all made in God’s image and equally loved by God. But we also have different views and experiences about these things. These questions of faith, identity, gender and sexuality are felt very deeply and can be difficult to talk about. Many churches are reluctant to address these topics but we must begin to talk openly and freely.
Following the official launch of LLF across the Diocese of Bristol in May, we are now inviting parishes and groups to consider – and prepare to run – LLF courses in Autumn 2021 and Spring 2022. The latest that groups can add to the national conversation is around the end of April 2022.
The latest that groups can add to the national conversation is around the end of January 2022. If you have any questions, or concerns, please email the LLF team.
The LLF resources are intended to help all of us to gain a deeper understanding of God, of scripture, of each other and what it means to be human. These are things that affect all of us every day of our lives. In taking part you will not only be learning new things but be part of a journey that will shape the future direction of the church.
Participants will be invited to join a group to work through the LLF materials together that are available on the LLF learning hub online. These will include written materials, videos and shared reflections.
We recognise that for some people, getting involved will come with the potential for hurt and misunderstanding. We know that some are carrying past hurts so our intention is to enable the creation of safe spaces where people can listen, speak and be heard without experiencing judgement or rejection.
Everything that we do will be guided by the six pastoral principles that are the foundation for all the conversations.
As a diocese we are committed to providing trained facilitators who will be able to host the conversations and ensure that people are able to speak safely and in ways that allow others to hear. We want to support people to be honest and open, but in ways that are respectful of others and of the potential impact on them.
The course will take place over five sessions and we hope that during that extended period, relationships will emerge that allow open sharing. However, no one should feel under pressure to share anything they are uncomfortable with or before they are ready. Part of the facilitator's role will be to ensure that the group commitments are maintained and the pastoral principles observed.
No. Parishes and groups are free to engage with the materials, which are accessible online.
However, we would strongly recommend that anyone leading a group has been trained and makes use of the notes for leaders that are available on the LLF Learning Hub. The diocese is also offering support to anyone engaging in the conversations. If you plan to use your own facilitators or people from neighbouring parishes training is available on five evenings in September on Zoom. Find out more here. Even if you don't use a diocesan-trained LLF facilitator, the chaplaincy service is available to anyone who might feel the need for it. Find out more information by contacting the advocates, Bishop Lee Rayfield, Revd Minty Hull, and Revd Chris Dobson.
We understand that these conversations may provoke strong reactions in people that may need further support. During the engagement and afterwards there will be pastoral support in the form of trained LLF chaplains who will be available for anyone to talk through what has happened and to raise any concerns that may have emerged. They can be contacted using the phone numbers that will be given to you at the start of the sessions.
Read more about safeguarding at the bottom of this page.
The chaplains have been trained for the role and will be available to participants who need further support for up to two one-hour chats, and if more support is needed can refer people on to others.
The six pastoral principles are fundamental to the running of the LLF courses, but are applicable in many different contexts within our parishes. The Church of England has therefore developed a resource called Pastoral Principles for living and learning well together. Bristol Cathedral ran the Pastoral Principles course in summer 2021 as preparation before the LLF course in the autumn. If you would like to know more about it, please email Minty Hull at email@example.com. If you are planning to run LLF during Lent, you could 'prepare the way' by using the six pastoral principles for living and learning together as material for a sermon series or home groups this autumn.
Conversations will be held in different formats. Some will be online via Zoom, others will be in person, some may prefer to hold them in their own parishes, and others may want to take part with people that they don't know. Your local parish priest will be able help you to identify local groups, but you may also contact us by email on LLF@bristoldiocese.org and we will be able to put you in touch with another group in a different location.
We want to be very clear that there is no compulsion to take part. It is simply an invitation to come and learn. There is complete freedom to take part or not, or to start and then decide it is not for you. This is not about pressure or conforming.
There is no prescribed or desired outcome for any meeting. We want to be very clear that the conversations have no underlying agenda and they are not designed to persuade or change people's minds. Our hope is that they may result in a deeper understanding and mutual respect that will reflect the deep love of God in Christ and inform future conversations.
We are encouraging people to enter the engagement willing to listen deeply to others and to learn from the resources. We want everyone to hear the experiences, concerns and perspectives of others; and to gently and carefully share their own, knowing that they too will be heard and reflected upon.
At the end of the five sessions, the groups will be invited to reflect on what they have learned and heard and, if they can, to agree on what are the most important things arising from their journey that they want the wider church to hear. Each participant will also be invited to give their own personal feedback to the central church if they wish.
LLF is led by Bishop Lee Rayfield, and the two episcopally-appointed LLF Advocates – Revd Minty Hull and Revd Chris Dobson. They are supported by a consultative group drawn from people with diverse backgrounds, representing the different communities affected by these conversations. This group is there to work with the diocesan advocates, offering guidance about content, planning and communication, ensuring that the experience is as positive and safe as we can make it for everyone.
You can read the introductory letter sent by Bishop Lee Rayfield, Revd Minty Hull and Revd Chris Dobson here.
Any safeguarding or ‘at risk’ issue should be immediately referred to the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA). Our DSA is Adam Bond, who can be reached on 0117 906 0100 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If the matter is very urgent or the DSA is unavailable, the issue should be reported directly to the police.