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Church of England to explore gender-neutral pronouns for God

The Church of England will begin exploring the possibility of using gender-neutral terminology to refer to God, officials for the religious institution said Wednesday.

"Christians have recognized since ancient times that God is neither male nor female," a church spokesperson said in a statement to Reuterswhile also acknowledging that "the variety of ways of addressing and describing God found in scripture has not always been reflected in our worship."

This statement was accompanied by an announcement from the Church of England that it would form a commission on using gender-neutral terms this coming spring. 

Any official charges would mark a significant departure from prior teachings, The Washington Post notes, and "there is no consensus so far on the best language to use." Additionally, the spokesperson said there were "absolutely no plans to abolish or substantially revise" current church services, something that could not be done without "extensive legislation."

The church's statement came in response to remarks by Rev. Dr. Michael Ipgrave, the vice-chair of the new commission, who said the Church of England had been "exploring the use of gendered language in relation to God for several years."

"After some dialogue between the two commissions in this area, a new joint project on gendered language will begin this spring," Ipgrave said, adding that "changing the wording and number of authorized forms of absolution would require a full synodical process for approval."

The commission's creation follows the recent news that the Church of England would begin blessing same-sex marriages, though would controversially still not allow same-sex couples to marry in their churches.