The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have told the General Synod they would support trialling standalone services for same-sex blessings before obtaining official approval for permanent use.
The General Synod of the Church of England is convening in London this week to deliberate on the latest advancements in the Living in Love and Faith plans – the denomination’s current process to change its approach to same-sex couples.
The latest proposals would see prayers for gay blessings introduced “very soon” while a standalone service would be submitted for a longer canonical process in consultation with dioceses which would be unlikely to end before 2025 (under the canonical process referred to as canon B2).
However, couples could request to have a standalone same-sex blessing service before 2025 if an amendment submitted by the Bishop of Oxford, Rt Rev Steven Croft, is voted in favour by the General Synod.
Bishop Stephen has asked the General Synod to “to consider whether some standalone services for same-sex couples could be made available for use, possibly on a trial basis, on the timescale envisaged by the motion passed by the Synod in February 2023”.
Speaking during his presidential address, Most Rev Stephen Cottrell said he would support the amendment, as he is worried that “as thing stand…clergy using the commended prayers might find themselves vulnerable to a legal challenge if their use of the prayers looks to someone else to be a standalone service”.
The amendment, scheduled for debate on Tuesday or Wednesday, will be subject to a vote, likely conducted by houses, requiring a simple majority in each.
During his own presidential address, Most Rev Justin Welby acknowledged that this Synod is dominated by the LLF process and expressed "complete agreement" with everything said by Archbishop Stephen.
In the afternoon question sessions, the Bishop of London anticipated the commendation of prayers in mid-December and signalled her support for Bishop Stephen's amendment.