Sky News has reported that two commissions have launched a joint project to explore the possibility of using more inclusive language to refer to God in Church of England services. This comes after a question was asked by Rev Joanna Stobart, vicar of Ilminster and Whitelackington in Somerset, who seeks to portray the creator in a non-gendered way.
While there are no plans to abolish or significantly revise currently authorized liturgies, there has been greater interest in exploring new language in the last two decades. The Church of England acknowledges that Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female, but the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in their worship.
The Liturgical Commission and the Faith and Order Commission, which advises on theology, will be working together on this project for the next five years. Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield and vice-chair of the Liturgical Commission, has announced that the project will begin this spring.
Although some, like Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, have expressed support for gender-neutral language when referring to God, the project has also sparked controversy and criticism, with some claiming it is unnecessary. Nonetheless, any changes resulting from the project would require extensive legislation.