At the meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales on 6 September 2021, approval was given to a service of blessing for same-sex partnerships. Extracts from the Press Release are reproduced below.
In December 2020, we posted Same-sex blessings: Church in Wales which reported that following the on-line meeting of the Governing Body on 3rd and 4th November 2020, the Church in Wales had published a Consultation on a Bill to authorize the experimental use of proposed revisions of the Book of Common Prayer in relation to a service of Blessing following a Civil Partnership or Marriage between two people of the same sex. In July 2021 Select Committee Report published a Report on the Bill and an Explanatory Memorandum.
Church in Wales Press Release
Church approves blessing service for same-sex partnerships
Same-sex couples will be able to have their civil partnership or marriage blessed in Church in Wales churches for the first time after new legislation was passed today (September 6).
A Bill to authorise a service of blessing was approved by members of the Church’s Governing Body at its meeting. It was passed by the necessary two-thirds majority in each order of the three orders – Bishops, clergy and laity.
The service will be used experimentally for five years and it will be up to individual clergy to decide whether or not they wish to lead it.
The service is for a blessing only as same-sex couples are unable to marry in church.
The Bill was introduced by the Bishops, following an indication from Governing Body members that it was “pastorally unsustainable” for the Church to make no formal provision for those in committed same-sex relationships.
Responding to the vote, the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, who introduced the Bill, said, “I come out of this debate with no sense of triumph but believing that the Church in Wales has done the right thing under God for the LGBTQIA+ community. The Church has spoken decisively today in favour of blessings.
There is a journey still to be taken but I hope that we can do it together with all the wings of the Church.
The Bishops passed the Bill unanimously, the clergy by 28 to 12 with two abstentions and the laity by 49 to 10 with one abstention.
The discussion and vote was held on the first day of the Governing Body meeting at the International Convention Centre Wales in Newport. The second day of the meeting will take place online only, via Zoom, on Wednesday, September 8 and will also be live-streamed.
The Church of England does not currently recognise same-sex marriages, forbids clergy to bless same-sex unions and only allows celibate gay and lesbian clergy to minister. The Scottish Episcopal Church voted to allow gay couples to marry in church in 2017, making it the first major Christian church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages.
At present, the law of the Church of Scotland only allows ministers and deacons to marry opposite-sex couples. However, in May 2021 the General Assembly voted 320 to 211 to approve draft legislation that would allow ministers and deacons to marry same-sex couples if they wish – though none would be obliged to perform such blessings. It has been sent down to presbyteries under the provisions of the Barrier Act and, if a majority agrees, will return to next year’s General Assembly for final approval.
The first same-sex religious wedding in Northern Ireland took place in December after changes in the law were introduced by the Northern Ireland Office. It was solemnized at the Harbour Faith Community, which describes itself as “a progressive, informal Anglican style church based in Carrickfergus”.
Updated 11 September 2021 at 13:51.