Church of England to consider same-sex blessing services

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The Church of England is set to discuss holding a service for same-sex couples, in a first for the institution.

The general synod, the body which scrutinises and approves legislation within the church, will now debate the option of holding official services for couples who have taken part in secular marriages or civil partnerships.

Jayne Ozanne, a gay member of the Synod, told PinkNews she was “thrilled” at the “overwhelming support the motion has received”.

“It provides an important step on the road to ensuring we are all treated equally by the Church of England.

“I know that many are incredulous at the time it is taking for the Church to understand that we are all loved equally by God, but things are changing and given the strength of support we know that exists I hope this will be debated as soon as possible by the General Synod.”

Same-sex marriages are currently banned in the Anglican church in both England and Wales, although Scotland voted to introduce the ceremonies earlier this year.

The first Scottish wedding took place in September.

However, the Scottish church has faced condemnation from the rest of the church for its progressive decision, with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby personally overseeing a “punishment” for the decision.

The new plans for England and Wales have caused a similar controversy, with some traditionalists calling it a “fundamental departure” from the church’s values.

Put forward by members in Hereford, the plans suggest an “order of prayer and dedication” after a marriage or civil partnership performed outside of the church.

The Rt Revd Richard Frith, the Bishop of Hereford, said the move was in response to requests from same-sex couples in their diocese.

“The motion, which is part of a much wider debate, asks for guidance on materials to be used in affirming and praying with same-sex couples.

“Clergy are already encouraged to respond pastorally and sensitively when approached,” he added.

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However, Suzie Leafe, leader of conservative group Reform, slammed the move.

“Marriage [is] a lifelong relationship between a man and a woman,” she told the BBC.

“This has been, and still, is the understanding of the vast majority of the worldwide church for two millennia.

“To ask for a service of prayer and dedication for a same-sex relationship represents a fundamental departure from this teaching.”

The church is yet to set a date to discuss the proposals.

In a statement, the Church of England added that they were unable to marry same-sex couples, but “it is recognised, however, that there is a real and profound disagreement in the Church of England over questions relating to human sexuality”

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