URC votes for local option on gay marriage

The General Assembly of the United Reformed Church in England and Wales meeting last week endorsed a resolution giving its congregations the right to host the weddings of same-sex couples. The special one-day one-issue meeting of synod on 27 June 2015 held at Carrs Lane Church, Birmingham was called in response to the government’s introduction of same-sex marriage. Delegates to the meeting found the URC could not speak with a common mind on the topic of same-sex marriage as a denomination, but after extended debate adopted a resolution allowing local congregations to decide the issue. By a vote of 184 to 30 the synod voted to move forward with allowing congregations the local option of solemnizing same-sex marriages. The resolution further held that congregations had the right to decline to host same-sex marriages, and congregations twinned with other denominations such as the Church of England would not be permitted to host same-sex marriages until such time as their partners had adopted the innovation. Under the URC’s canons the resolution will now be referred back to the denomination’s 13 synods for a nine-month period of further consultation which will end on 31 March. If more than one third of the synods (five or more) vote against the proposal then it falls; otherwise it would be brought back to General Assembly in July 2016, where a two-thirds majority would be able to confirm it as the Church’s final decision.


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