The Church of England has voted in favour of a motion to offer blessings to same sex couples who are getting married or entering into civil partnerships. The debate took nearly two days and ended in a vote for the motion at a meeting of the General Synod today (Thursday, February 9).
The Synod, which is the Church’s Parliament, all voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion across three houses. Members also voted to “lament and repent” the failure of the Church to welcome LGBTQI+ people in churches.
But the motion did not seek to change the position on gay marriage, meaning same sex members are still unable to marry within the Church of England. Before the vote, a minute of silence was observed following a prayer by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Church of England to allow blessings for same sex couples - what does it mean?
The motion was brought by the Bishop of London and Dame Sarah Lullally after six years of work on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage within the Church - also known as Living in Love and Faith.
Approval of the motion allows same sex couples to go to Anglican churches after a legal marriage ceremony for services. These include prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and blessings.
Statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said in a statement: "It has been a long road to get us to this point. For the first time, the Church of England will publicly, unreservedly, and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church.
"The Church continues to have deep differences on these questions which go to the heart of our human identity. As Archbishops, we are committed to respecting the conscience of those for whom this goes too far and to ensure that they have all the reassurances they need in order to maintain the unity of the Church as this conversation continues.
"We hope that today’s thoughtful, prayerful debate marks a new beginning for the Church as we seek a way forward, listening to each other and most of all to God. Above all, we continue to pray, as Jesus himself prayed, for the unity of his church and that we would love one another.”