The Church of England is considering the introduction of a blessing ceremony for same sex couples.
When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act became law in 2013, the Church of England was explicitly excluded from its provisions, on the basis of its traditional teachings. But it remains a controversial issue, with growing support amongst both practising Anglicans and clergy.
The Church’s response to same sex marriage will be top of the agenda at a meeting of the General Synod in York this coming weekend. Around 500 delegates are expected. Bishops are expected to draw up plans for a “pastoral accommodation” of some kind after the meeting and this could include blessings for such couples.
Officially called services of prayer and dedication, blessings are normally offered to couples interested in a traditional religious celebration of a civil marriage which has already taken place. If offered to gay couples, they may be given an alternative name such as ‘services of welcome’.
The possibility of blessings for gay couples has alarmed evangelicals and other religious conservatives, Christian Today reports. Opposed any kind of recognition of same sex marriage., they hold more than one third of all seats in the House of Laity, one of the three self-explanatory chambers in the General Synod, alongside the House of Clergy and the House of Bishops.
The introduction of ‘services of welcome’ would require a two thirds majority across the entire Synod.