United Reformed Church votes to allow same-sex weddings

The United Reformed Church (URC) has voted to allow same-sex weddings in its churches.

In a meeting held last week, members of the URC General Assembly voted by 240 votes to 21 to allow same-sex couples to marry in churches that choose to register for same-sex weddings.

Individual congregations will not be forced to comply against their will.

Biblical authority

The URC was formed in 1972 by the union of the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England and has around 60,000 members.

Ahead of the recent discussions on same-sex relationships by members of the Church of England, the Bishop of Blackburn Julian Henderson said the debate on sexuality actually centres on the authority of the Bible.

He said the Bible must remain the Church’s one true authority if Christians are to “maintain a faithful witness”.

Offence of the Gospel

He stressed that the “Christian community has never been called to popularity” and that the “gospel is an offence because of its call for repentance, and because of its focus on what Jesus has done for us that we could not do for ourselves”.

He concluded: “This current debate is, therefore, not so much about sexuality as the place, interpretation, and application of the Bible in our life as a Church.

“Its authority must not be superseded by pastoral, anthropological, and missional arguments, if we are to maintain a faithful witness to Jesus Christ and the gospel, in this generation and for those who follow”.

Other churches

Last week it emerged that the Methodist Church has voted to “revisit” its position on same-sex marriage with members expressing a desire to endorse same-sex relationships.

And the Scottish Episcopal Church has recently voted to delete references to “man” and “woman” in its official understanding of marriage, risking sanctions from the Anglican Communion.