Speaking of the process and today’s vote, the Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the URC said: ‘Today the URC has made an important decision – at which some will rejoice and with which others will be uncomfortable. Those of our churches who now wish to offer full marriage services to same-sex couples are free to do just that – and those churches who do not wish to are not compelled to. All are part of this denomination. This has been a sensitive issue for many in our churches. It has been important to take our time over the decision process, and to listen as carefully as we can to one another along the way.’
Could this latest news from the U.K.’s United Reform Churches be a foretaste of what may come out of the Church of England’s General Synod determination on the outcome of its ‘Conversations on Human Sexuality? :
” It has long been clear that the denomination cannot express a single view on the issue of same-sex marriage and, at the 2015 Assembly it was ruled that the decision on whether an individual United Reformed Church congregation can host marriages of same-sex couples lies wholly with each local church. This is the policy that was confirmed today as the Church’s decision.”
This would seem to point the way to how Anglican Churches around the world might deal with requests from their membership for a Church Blessing of a committed, monogamous Same-Sex Relationship within their congregations.
By allowing individual church communities (parishes) to decide whether to welcome LGBT people into their local Church family; this would obviate the need to legislate a particular requirement for every parish or clergy-person to accommodate Same-Sex Blessings against their will.
Short of allowing an actual Marriage ceremony to be performed for Same-Sex couples in Anglican Churches; this might well prove the most efficacious way of dealing with the need to cater for those within the Church who want their monogamous S/S relationships to receive the Blessing of God and of their local congregation; thus encouraging those people with intrinsic same-sex attraction to feel welcomed in the Body of Christ.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand