Prayers for God’s blessing for same-sex couples
Blessing of Marriage or Civil Partnership
Blessing of Marriage or Civil Partnership Press release Church of England 9/2/23
The Church of England’s General Synod has welcomed proposals which would enable same-sex couples to come to church after a civil marriage or civil partnership to give thanks, dedicate their relationship to God and receive God’s blessing.
Read the Church of England full press release here.
Pastoral Letter from Bishop Rose
Living in Love and Faith:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Many of you will have watched the debates and discussions of General Synod last week concerning identity, sexuality and what kind of welcome the Church may be able to offer LGBTI+ people. As a diocese, we are deeply indebted to our Synod representatives, who engaged tirelessly and positively with these discussions – I would like to record my thanks to each and every one of them. If you missed the debates, or would like an opportunity to hear some of this discussion, you can watch all of the Synod’s sessions on the Church of England Youtube channel.
After many hours of debate, Synod voted in favour of the following motion:
That this Synod, recognising the commitment to learning and deep listening to God and to each other of the Living in Love and Faith process, and desiring with God’s help to journey together while acknowledging the different deeply held convictions within the Church:
(a) lament and repent of the failure of the Church to be welcoming to LGBTQI+ people and the harm that LGBTQI+ people have experienced and continue to experience in the life of the Church; (b) recommit to our shared witness to God’s love for and acceptance of every person by continuing to embed the Pastoral Principles in our life together locally and nationally;
(c) commend the continued learning together enabled by the Living in Love and Faith process and resources in relation to identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage;
(d) welcome the decision of the House of Bishops to replace Issues in Human Sexuality with new pastoral guidance;
(e) welcome the response from the College of Bishops and look forward to the House of Bishops further refining, commending and issuing the Prayers of Love and Faith described in GS 2289 and its Annexes;
(f) invite the House of Bishops to monitor the Church’s use of and response to the Prayers of Love and Faith, once they have been commended and published, and to report back to Synod in five years’ time;
(g) endorse the decision of the College and House of Bishops not to propose any change to the doctrine of marriage, and their intention that the final version of the Prayers of Love and Faith should not be contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England.
I include this in full so that all may know exactly what Synod has agreed – you can read more about the outcomes here.
The next step on this journey will see the bishops considering all that they have heard and learned from Synod and others. We will use that learning in our development of the Prayers for Love and Faith, as well our new guidance, which will replace Issues in Human Sexuality. We hope that these new documents will be drafted in time for Synod’s consideration this Summer. After that, we hope that they will be commended for use in our parishes and dioceses where needed.
I will be heartily encouraging the use of the prayers by all those who would like to respond to pastoral needs as presented to them. Contrary to some of the rumours that you may have heard, no one will be required to offer them: all may, none must. There has been – and continues to be – much pain around this discussion. I am especially mindful of the suffering of LGBTI+ people, some of which the Church has caused or been complicit in. I am sorry where we have failed to recognise God’s image in you, our brothers and sisters. I recognise that, for many of you, these latest moves will not go far enough. Thank you for continuing to journey with us.
I am also aware of the pain of those who feel that these measures go too far. The doctrine of the Church has not changed, and no one will be compelled to act against their conscience. It is also my hope that this shift in our common life may enable a greater honesty between us, where differences are named and respected – leading to a greater unity, despite our diversity of views, experiences and convictions. I am confident that the love of God is big enough to hold our church family together – if we seek to bear with one another in love.
As ever, friends, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, always striving for his kingdom, always listening for his voice, always seeking his path.
Yours in the service of Christ,
The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin
Bishop of Dover