5 July 2018

To all clergy and licensed lay ministers in
the Diocese of Lichfield

Intentional Discipleship: East Meets West
Many of you will be aware of – and hopefully attending – our ‘Intentional Discipleship:
East Meets West’ event across the Diocese from 11-15 July. We would like to update
you about some developments concerning the gatherings for your information.

We have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the Province of South East Asia and were
very much looking forward to welcoming all four of its dioceses: West Malaysia,
Kuching, Singapore and Sabah, to the event, which was due to culminate in the
renewal of our partnership agreements with each diocese.

However, we are sad that the four dioceses have now informed us that they will not
renew the partnership agreements, and that Singapore and Sabah dioceses have
decided to withdraw their participation from the whole event. This is because they
have concerns about our recent ad clerum on Welcoming and Honouring LGBT+
People. We respect their decision and their concerns which are held with integrity.

Their bishops have expressed a fear that the ad clerum represents a departure from
orthodoxy. This was not our intention. The letter focused on pastoral issues because
we wanted to emphasise the importance of welcoming and including all people to our
churches and to look at some of the practical out-workings of this. The ad clerum has
stimulated some good conversations amongst people in our Diocese holding a wide
range of views. We have much appreciated the Bishop of Maidstone entering the
conversation with a letter to us which sought to clarify the pastoral arrangements. He,
like us, wants to find ways to offer the Gospel most effectively to as wide a range of
people as possible. As an Assistant Bishop in this diocese, Bishop Rod has pointed out
some of the ways in which that imperative is being taken up by the churches to whom
he offers ministry.

‘Intentional Discipleship: East Meets West’ will focus on discipleship, which often
involves grappling with difficult issues and learning to walk in relationship even when

1
holding different perspectives. While the partnership agreements with the four
dioceses from South East Asia are not being renewed this month, we look forward to
welcoming over 20 delegates from West Malaysia and Kuching for the event and seek
to remain in friendly relationship with all four dioceses.

We are also keen, as are others in the Province of South East Asia, that new and
existing parish links within our Diocese with the South East Asian dioceses are
supported and continue to grow.

We would encourage you to attend the gatherings – particularly the events in your
area – details of which are on our website. The only change to the programme, in the
light of the developments outlined above, is that the service planned for Eccleshall at
5pm on Saturday 14 July has been replaced with a more informal Closing Celebration
at Shallowford at the same time.

Finally, we would ask that you continue to hold ‘Intentional Discipleship: East Meets
West’ in your prayers in the coming days.

Yours in Christ,

The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave
Bishop of Lichfield

The Rt Revd Mark Rylands The Rt Revd Geoff Annas The Rt Revd Clive Gregory
Bishop of Shrewsbury Bishop of Stafford Bishop of Wolverhampton

2