On the second day of the meeting of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body, 16-17th September 2015, the views of delegates were sought on the following options:
- Option 1: No change to the Church’s current teaching and practice on marriage and partnerships;
- Option 2: To allow same sex unions to be blessed in the Church in Wales;
- Option 3: To enable same sex couples to marry in the Church in Wales.
Background to the vote was provided by the Report by the Standing Doctrinal Commission “The Church in Wales and Same-Sex Partnerships”, (2014), and a Note specific to this item of business, (Agendum 13). In addition to the Rt Rev Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales, the Reverend Dr Ainsley Griffiths, a member of the Standing Doctrinal introduced the three options; further background papers were provided on the CiW website.
The Note emphasized:
“[w]hilst the outcome of the ballot will help to inform future consideration of how the Church in Wales might respond to recent changes in the Marriage law, it will not constitute a decision of the Governing Body, nor by itself provide any basis for a change in the Church’s teaching or practice on marriage and partnerships. Should the Bench wish to propose a change in the current position, it would be necessary for a Bill to be brought to the Governing Body for debate”.
In the Church Times, Gavin Drake reported
“In the first preference vote of the 120 members present, half of the Bench of Bishops, just over half of the clergy, and just under one half of the laity voted in favour of same-sex marriage: a total of 61 votes. One bishop, 21 clergy, and 28 laity voted in favour of the status quo (50 votes). Nine people voted in favour of the second option, of blessing same-sex unions.
In the second preference vote, the majority of Governing Body members — a total of 92 votes — indicated that they had no second-preference position.
If the Bench of Bishops brought a Bill forward to permit same-sex marriages to be solemnised in the Church in Wales, it would require a two-thirds approval in all three houses.”
The Church Times indicates that after the vote, Dr Morgan said that it was not worth “ripping the Church apart” by bringing forward a Bill to permit same sex marriage.
“I don’t want to pre-empt or prejudge what the Bench [of Bishops] will do,” he said, “but, speaking purely personally, I don’t think it would be profitable to bring a Bill before the Governing Body, given the state of opinion of the Church in Wales at the minute. It is quite obvious that, while a lot of people do want movement, quite a lot of people do not; and there is no point, it seems to me, in ripping this Church apart.”
However, the article notes that should the Bishops opt to preserve the status quo, they will find themselves aligning with the minority view within the Governing Body. The bishops are scheduled to report back on their deliberations to the Governing Body’s next meeting at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, 6 and 7 April 2016.