For the first time since the Church of England’s inception in the 16th century, same-sex couples will be able to have their unions blessed, following a November 15 vote.
The vote narrowly passed at The General Synod – the official ruling body of the Church of England – earlier this week. The amendment, which was approved by a single vote, backs the blessing of same-sex couples throughout the Church of England.
While this ruling is positive for LGBTQ+ church-goers, the amendment does not allow same-sex couples to have formal weddings sanctioned by the Church. Instead, the special services for same-sex couples will allow the couples to wear rings, have prayers, confetti, and have their union blessed by a priest.
Following the decision, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, released a joint statement in favour of the ruling.
“We have heard loud and clear, through an extensive debate over two days, the depth of feeling across the church on these hugely important questions,” the Archbishops wrote.
“While this motion was passed, narrowly, we do not underestimate the depth of feeling. We will reflect on all that we have heard as we seek to move forward together.”
The blessing of same-sex couples in the Church of England are set to begin taking place in 2024 as a series of temporary trial services.
Bishop of London and co-chair of the Living in Love and Faith steering group, Sarah Mullally, spoke on the recent decision, saying: “The truth is – and as we have seen again today – that the Church of England is not of one mind on questions of sexuality and marriage.”
I think it was the most memorable and moving speech I have heard from a bishop in years.
I remain grateful to her for all that she has done in leading us through the… pic.twitter.com/WylLTAPf2P
— Jayne Ozanne (@JayneOzanne) November 15, 2023
Speaking on the decision, Jayne Ozanne, an LGBTQ+ campaigner who attended the recent General Synod, said that these plans offer “tiny scraps of hope to LGBT+ people.
“The Church of England remains deeply homophobic, whatever archbishops may say.
“I fear that much of the nation will judge the Church of England as being abusive, hypocritical and unloving – they are, sadly, correct,” Ozanne concluded.
The Church of England’s decision to allow the blessing of same-sex couples comes mere days after a group of 44 bishops called for guidance that would allow priests to oversee same-sex marriages to be issued “without delay.”
The bishops, comprised of 15 diocesan bishops and 29 suffragans, similarly said that there is “also the need for a swift end to the current uncertainty for LGBTQIA+ clergy and ordinands.”
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