Church of England will offer blessings for same-sex unions

Although the blessings are a positive step forward, the Church of England still won't allow same-sex marriages to be performed in church.

This article is about the Church of England voting to offer blessings for same-sex unions. In the photo, the bands of a priest holding a bible.
Image: Via Pexels - cottonbro studio

After an intense and lengthy debate, the General Synod of the Church of England has voted in favour of offering blessings to same-sex couples in civil partnerships and marriages.

On Thursday, February 9, a motion allowing priests to offer blessings for same-sex unions was approved by the General Synod, the governing body of the Church of England. Taking place in ​​Church House in Central London, the vote was the culmination of a heated discussion that lasted more than eight hours across two days.

The motion, which was the result of a six-year consultation period on questions of identity, sexuality, relationship and marriage, was brought forward by the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally. It will allow same-sex couples to have their union blessed by priests who choose to do so.

LGBTQ+ couples will need to conduct a legal ceremony elsewhere and then go to Anglican churches for a second ceremony which will include prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and God’s blessing.

Although the blessings are considered a positive step forward, the position of the Church of England on same-sex marriages remains unchanged, as LGBTQ+ couples will still be unable to marry in church. This decision is antipodal to the one taken by the Church of Scotland last year, when the governing body historically voted to allow same-sex marriages in its institutions.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev. Justin Welby, commented on the vote saying that there is “painful” disagreement within the church over the motion. “I am supporting these resources, not I think because I’m controlled by culture, but because of scripture, tradition and reason evidenced in the vast work done over the last six years so ably by so many,” he said.

He added, “I may be wrong. Of course I may. But I cannot duck the issue any more than anyone else here.”

Bishop of London Sarah Mullally, who brough the motion forward, said: “This is a moment of hope for the church. I know that what we have proposed as a way forward does not go nearly far enough for many, but too far for others. It is my prayer that what has been agreed today will represent a step forward for all of us within the church – including LGBTQI+ people.”

LGBTQ+ Christians were protesting outside Church House in Central London while the vote was taking place to demand more significant action from the Church of England. Phillips Drew, a 76-year-old protester, spoke to PinkNews, saying: ​​“The fact that the church will not recognise that two people who love each other and want to have their union recognised, not by the state, but by the church, is deeply hurtful.”

Drew said that, because of the Church of England’s stance on LGBTQ+ people, she was “no longer a believer” and branded the decision to offer blessings instead of performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples as “crap” and “offering crumbs to the starving”.

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