The Church of England is set to trial “special standalone services” for blessing those in same-sex partnerships.
Its General Synod has narrowly backed an amendment to trial the services while debate on their ongoing status continues. The amendment from the Bishop of Oxford only required a simple majority to pass, and only succeeded in the House of Laity by one vote.
The House of Bishops then backed the main motion as amended 23 to ten, with four abstentions. The House of Clergy also voted in favour by 100 to 93 with one abstention, and the House of Laity by 104 to 100 with no abstentions.
‘Grieved and saddened’
The House of Bishops originally proposed that the standalone services would be formally authorised under a two-year long process. This would have required a two-thirds majority in each of the three Houses before they could be introduced.
While the Bishops are expected to discuss how to implement the services in the coming weeks, clergy are expected to be able to use ‘prayers of blessing’ in existing services as early as next month.
Revd John Dunnett, National Director of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), stated: “CEEC is grieved and saddened that the General Synod passed a motion earlier this afternoon to continue with the implementation of the bishops’ proposals. These proposals depart from a biblical understanding of sex and marriage”.
He added: “In the next few days CEEC will announce a series of provisions for orthodox evangelicals and work to do all it can to ensure evangelical life and witness in the Church of England continues for years to come.”
Last month, bishops of the Anglican Network in Europe, the Anglican Convocation in Europe and the Anglican Mission in England urged the House of Bishops to repent from laying aside “the clear teaching of Scripture on matters of sexual conduct”.
“This action is offensive to the God of love. It replaces his wonderful gospel of grace with a distorted message, blessing what God calls sin. This is heart-breaking, wicked and outrageously arrogant.”
In February, the Synod voted to welcome proposals for the ‘Prayers of Love and Faith’, provided they were not “contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England”.