Diocesan resolution to go to the Church of England’s General Synod for action
The Diocese of Hereford, with the support of its bishop, has adopted a resolution asking the Church of England’s House of Bishops to create a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex civil marriages.
On 19 October 2017 the synod adopted the resolution by a vote of 41 in favor, 18 opposed, and 4 abstentions. Anglican Ink undestands the Rt. Rev. Richard Frith, Bishop of Hereford, (pictured) spoke in favor of the motion which asked:
“That this Synod request the House of Bishops to commend an Order of Prayer and
Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage for use by ministers in exercise of their discretion under Canon B4, being a form of service neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter, together with guidance that no parish should be obliged to host, nor minister conduct, such a service.”
The church pressure group OneBodyOneFaith hailed the vote in a statement printed on its website.
“Of central importance is the principle of not compelling anyone to act against their conscience – but at the same time permitting those who wish to celebrate and affirm faithful and committed relationships, to act with integrity too. Support for such a motion in a predominantly rural diocese like Hereford reflects what many of our members and supporters know to be true – that in communities across the country, in all kinds of contexts, there is widespread support for affirming same-sex couples, and being alongside them as they experience the joy and blessing of their relationships”.
The resolution now passes to the Business Committee of the General Synod, and will be put forward for consideration at such time as the committee judges to be appropriate.
The conservative pressure group Reform voiced “deep concern” with the decision.
Susie Leafe, Director of Reform said in a statement, “It is sad that there was no reference to the Bible in the briefing document provided to the members of Hereford Diocesan Synod. Their motion ignores therefore ignores the fact that Jesus was clear that marriage was a lifelong relationship between a man and a woman, and 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.”
She noted: “But more than this, to suggest that the House of Bishops use a similar service to that offered to those who have previously been divorced, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of grace. Jesus was clear that marriage should be lifelong – but he was also aware that we are frail human beings and that things go wrong. Any marriage service that takes place after a divorce is based on the fact that those involved accept that Jesus’ teaching about marriage is right, that they are sorry for the mistakes they have made in the past and their intention is to live differently in the future. It is hard to see how the Church can offer such a service to those who believe Jesus was wrong in his understanding of marriage and therefore see no reason to seek forgiveness or change their ways.”