The Church of England has announced plans to look into the use of gender-neutral terms to refer to God in prayers.

The issue, according to the Church, reflects increased global awareness about the presumed usage of pronouns, which causes offence or upset to persons who do not identify with the gender assigned to them at birth.

In a statement on Wednesday, February 8, the centuries-old institution said that there were no plans to abolish current services but that it would look into gender neutrality for God.

“Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female. Yet the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship,” a spokesperson for the church said.

He added that there were “absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise” authorised services and that no changes could be made without “extensive legislation”.

This follows a conversation in the General Synod, the Church’s governing body, where a priest asked about developing more inclusive language in authorised forms of worship and sought options for those who wish to speak of God in a “non-gendered way.”

The spokesperson said there had been greater interest in exploring new languages since the introduction of their forms of expression in contemporary language more than 20 years ago.

Bishop Michael Ipgrave, vice chairman of the Church’s liturgical commission, said the church had been “exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years.”

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