Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike have written to all clergy, churchwardens and ministers following the announcement of plans for same-sex couples to be able to come to church to give thanks for their civil marriage or civil partnership and receive God’s blessing. Details of the announcement can be found here.
Responding to the announcement Bishop Martin said,
“The first thing that Mike and I wish to say is that we are grateful that the bishops of the Church of England have agreed to make a public apology for the way members of the LGBTQI+ community have been treated by the church. The bishops stressed the importance of all our congregations offering an unreserved and joyful welcome to same-sex couples. We, as your bishops, want to underline this message. Secondly, we welcome the prayers and other resources, Prayers of Love and Faith, that are proposed to be commended by the House of Bishops for services for same-sex couples in church. These include prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and blessing.”
The proposals, which follow a six-year period of listening, learning and discernment known as Living in Love and Faith, will be outlined in a report to the Church’s General Synod, which meets in London next month.
Bishop Martin and Bishop Mike added,
“While we welcome these developments, which are important, you will not be surprised to hear that we are both disappointed that they do not go further. Through this process we have both reached the view that the faithful, pastoral, loving and just way forward is to extend Holy Matrimony to same-sex couples. We recognise that many of you agree with us, while many of you would not be able to support such a change and many remain uncertain. This reflects the situation amongst the bishops where there is deep disagreement held in tension with a commitment to moving forward together.”
The first step is for General Synod to consider these proposals in February. The bishops will listen to and reflect on the response from the General Synod and will then refine the prayers before they are commended for use.
Full details including the bishops’ paper, prayers and background information will be published on Friday 20 January.