Episcopal bishops have given permission for an official prayer for gay couples to be drafted.

The news follows a vote of the church this week to reject a moratorium on the consecrations of gay bishops in committed partnerships, despite dismay from Anglican leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.

Bishops voted 104-30 at the Episcopal General Convention to “collect and develop theological resources and liturgies” for blessing gay relationships.

The idea takes into account the growing number of states legalising civil partnerships and same-sex marriage. Although many dioceses allow clergy to bless gay couples, there is no official prayer.

The move will be considered at the next national meeting in 2012.

The statement voted on this week read “God has called and may call” gays in committed lifelong relationships to serve as ministers.

Divisions over gay bishops began in 2003, when the openly gay Gene Robinson, of New Hampshire, was consecrated. His appointment caused deep rifts between liberals and traditionalists.

In the last three years, the Anglican Communion has been pushing the Episocopal Church to “restrain” the numbers of gay bishops in order to avoid a split in the Anglican church. No new gay bishops have been consecrated in this time.

The Episocopal Church will only ordain gay and lesbian bishops in committed relationships, rather than those who are single.

The latest vote is likely to lead to a full split.