BISHOPS have responded to a wave of concern from churches about their views on sexuality.

Four bishops in the Diocese of Oxford wrote a joint letter to ministers in October, urging them to be inclusive and respectful of the LGBT community.

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More than 100 serving ministers have since signed a letter in response, raising 'concern with the direction of travel the diocese is taking'.

Now the four bishops, including Oxford’s Steven Croft and Dorchester’s Colin Fletcher, have written again to clarify their intentions.

They wrote: "There is no desire to diminish support for those who are seeking to uphold and live within the Church of England's current teaching.

"We want to offer our views but not impose them as we do our best to love one another and be a more Christ like Church together."

The letter of concern was signed by more than 100 serving clergy members, about 30 lay people, and 18 retired clergy members.

It agreed with the bishops' call to 'respect all people' but added: "We are dismayed that nowhere in the letter is there any articulation of the current teaching of the Church of England on marriage and sexual relationships.

"In its desire for new expressions of ‘inclusion’, it could end up excluding those who hold to the traditional teaching of Scripture and doing a great disservice to those of us who experience same-sex attraction.

"We are not here simply stating an aversion to change; we are, however, convinced that failing to hold the Bible’s teaching out to everyone, including those who identify as LGBTI+, is to show a lack of that very love the letter urges us to exhibit."

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The letter warned that the situation was serious and could drive some churches to seeking 'alternative means of receiving episcopal ministry', which it said would be a 'tragedy'.

It raised particular concern about accepting LGBT people into leadership positions in the church, adding: "We cannot see how it is right to accept as Christian leaders those who advocate lifestyles that are not consistent with New Testament teaching."