The Church of England is considering referring to God in “non-gendered” terms during services, the Telegraph reported.
Breaking with centuries of tradition, bishops have announced they are launching a major “project on gendered language” this spring.
It may suggest that priests stop using the male pronouns “He” and “Him” when referring to God in some prayers, or even that they can drop the famous phrase “our Father” from the start of the Lord’s Prayer.
The Reverend Joanna Stobart, a vicar in the diocese of Guildford, Surrey, said that some clergy want to refer to God without saying He or Him, particularly in prayers of forgiveness for sins, according to the report.
Stobart wrote, “Please could the Liturgical Commission provide an update on the steps being taken to develop more inclusive language in our authorized liturgy and to provide more options for those who wish to use authorized liturgy and speak of God in a non-gendered way, particularly in authorized absolutions where many of the prayers offered for use refer to God using male pronouns?”
In response, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Michael Ipgrave, said: “We have been exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years, in collaboration with the Faith and Order Commission.”
The proposal was welcomed by a group that campaigns for “gender justice” in the Church of England.
Women and the Church (WATCH), a group that campaigns for “gender justice” in the CoE, said “WATCH welcomes the start of another project in the Church of England to look at the development of more inclusive language in our authorized liturgy.”
However some traditionalists say this goes too far and will fear that the proposed introduction of gender-neutral language is another example of the church attempting to boost dwindling congregations as young people increasingly stay away.
This announcement comes ahead of a critical vote by the Synod later this week on the introduction of blessing services for gay couples.