There may be a big change coming on how the Church of England refers to God, though worshippers shouldn't necessarily expect that change anytime soon. The centuries-old religious institution is considering using gender-neutral language, including pronouns, when referring to God in prayers—what Reuters calls "the latest attempt by the church ... to keep up with rapidly evolving notions around gender and sexuality in recent decades." "Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female," a spokesman for the Church said. "Yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship."
A conversation on using more inclusive language within the church has already been taking place for years. In 2018, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby even noted that discussions about God were "to some degree metaphorical," as "God is not male or female. God is not definable." But the Washington Post reports the subject was broached once more in earnest this week when the church's governing body, the General Synod, met in London to talk about a variety of issues. During "heated debate," a vicar from southern England is said to have asked for an update on the language topic, prompting the church's Liturgical Commission to commit to launching an initiative to studying it further.
If language tweaks are eventually made, they would "mark a departure from traditional teachings dating back millennia," notes the Guardian. But the church rep says that any such alterations are not at all imminent, with "absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise" current services—changes that would require "extensive legislation." The church will further explore this issue via its Faith and Order Commission, in tandem with liturgical officials who organize services for the church, he notes. In the meantime, because the Church of England is somewhat flexible with how its clergy interpret official text, some are already using more inclusive language within their own congregations, notes the Post. (Read more gender neutral stories.)