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World News

Church of England churches hold first same-sex blessings

by Donna Birrell

Two vicars have become one of the first same-sex couples to be blessed at a Church of England service.

Last week the Church of England announced that priests could use prayers of blessing for same-sex couples in a church service from today, Sunday. It follows a seven year process of listening and discernment known as Living in Love and Faith.

A vicar at a church in Suffolk, Canon Andrew Dotchin is one of the first to use the prayers. He blessed Rev Catherine Bond and her partner Rev Jane Pearse in front of the congregation at St John the Baptist Church in Felixstowe. They are both associate priests in the parish.

Rev Dotchin said during the blessing which took place during the Sunday eucharist: “We give thanks for Catherine and Jane, to the love and friendship they share, and their commitment to one another as they come before you on this day, trusting you as the keeper of all goodness, strengthening their love by your love, and gladdening their hearts with your joy.”

The Church of England says the selection of readings and prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and asking for God’s blessing for same-sex couples, can be used in regular, scheduled services, such as a Sunday Eucharist or Evensong.

Earlier this week in a press release announcing the decision the Church re-stated that "the Church’s understanding of marriage – or Holy Matrimony – remains as a lifelong, faithful and exclusive covenant between one man and one woman. Yet some may wish to recognise the commitment same-sex couples make to each other and publicly pray for God’s blessing on them."

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