The General Synod of the Church of England has passed a compromise resolution on gays in the church.
Some delegates were wary of re-opening the debate about the place of lesbian, gay and bisexual people in the church just a week after a meeting of Anglican primates exposed the division in the worldwide communion.
A motion asking the Church to welcome and value gay Christians by the Rev Mary Gilbert of Bilston, West Midlands wanted to:
“welcome and affirm lesbian and gay Christians, lay and ordained, valuing their contribution at every level of the Church.”
After two hours of debate, the synod, meeting in London, decided to amend the Rev Gilbert’s motion in favour of one from the Bishop of Gloucester, which highlighted:
“continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion,” according to christiantoday.com
The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Rev Michael Perham, said it was the wrong time to talk about gay priests:
“In the light of the primates’ meeting, I believe this to be one of those worst moments,” he told delegates.
“Does the Synod want an outcome that will be perceived, perhaps misperceived, in the Anglican Communion as the Church of England shifting its ground in one direction or another?
“Down the centuries the Church has been immensely blessed by the faithful service of men and women of homosexual orientation – it is blessed today.
“That is something not only to acknowledge, but in which to rejoice,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.
“But this is not the moment – it is very clearly the wrong moment – to shift our former position and give any sense of winners and losers on an issue on which we are finding it hard to reach consensus.”
The synod meets twice a year to discuss the business of the church, and is made up of bishops, priests and lay people.
In this morning’s session it also backed gay Synod member John Ward’s amendment which recognised the importance of lesbian and gay people participating as full members of the Church.
The Synod is now discussing a motion from Rev Paul Perkin of Southwark in London which accuses civil partnerships of undermining marriage.
Rev Perkin also criticises the bishops for, “not stating clearly that civil partnerships would be inconsistent with Christian teaching.”
The divisions over gay priests and the Church’s attitude to same-sex partnerships was highlighted last week at the primates meeting in Tanzania.