CofE green-lights standalone services for same-sex blessings

Proposals to allow specific services for same-sex blessings have been backed by the Church of England.

On Monday, the Church’s national assembly – General Synod – decided to authorise the use of special prayers in standalone services that ‘celebrate and affirm’ same-sex relationships.

The House of Bishops voted in favour of the motion, with 22 for, twelve against and five abstentions. It passed by a handful of votes in the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.


In December, the House of Bishops endorsed the use of a “selection of readings and prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples” in regular church services.

this change is not something on which many of us can simply ‘agree to disagree’

General Synod’s decision means it will be possible for churches to devote whole services to blessing couples who have been through a same-sex civil ceremony. A trial of the services is expected to begin next year.

Revd Dr Ian Paul, a member of General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council, said: “It has now become clear and open that there are bishops who do not believe the doctrine of the Church and are determined that it should change.”

“They will drive this through no matter what the consequences. They seem to be out of touch with what many in the Church believe, and that this change is not something on which many of us can simply ‘agree to disagree’.”

One man, one woman, for life

Ahead of Synod, the Alliance – an informal partnership of Evangelicals within the Church of England – urged the Archbishops of Canterbury and York “to remain faithful to the orthodox teaching of the Church of England”.

In a letter, the group warned that the plans contradict Church doctrine, which affirms that “marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better, for worse, until death do them part, of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”.

Following the vote, the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) – a signatory to the letter – expressed deep disappointment at Synod’s decision.

The CEEC said the decision will trigger the creation of a new orthodox Province within the Anglican Communion, with “pastoral oversight from bishops who remain faithful to orthodox teaching on marriage and sexuality”.

Same-sex weddings

In 2021, the governing body of the Methodist Church in Great Britain voted to redefine marriage, conduct same-sex weddings and affirm cohabitation.

Representatives at the Church’s annual Conference consented “in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples” by 254 votes to 46. The Conference also endorsed “informal cohabitation”, equating it to marriage.

Last year, the denomination claimed that ministers should avoid using the terms “husband” and “wife” because it conveys an assumption that is not “the reality for many people”.

Also see:

Anglican Church in Wales

CofE Evangelicals: ‘Synod’s rejection of God’s word tearing the church apart’

‘Imposing same-sex weddings on CofE is not the job of Parliament’

Archbishop of Canterbury called to submit to Bible’s teaching on marriage