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Baptist Union to consider allowing ministers to marry a same-sex partner

by Marcus Jones

The Baptist Union of Great Britain has revealed it is "reflecting on a request" to change its rules around same sex marriage for its accredited ministers.

In a communication with its churches, it confirmed a request was made in 2020 by 70 members - the majority of which are ministers

The request asked that the Ministerial Recognition Rules be changed to remove a line which says that marriage is defined as "exclusively between a man and a woman".

That change would mean that any minister who married their same sex partner would no longer be committing gross misconduct and therefore have their accreditation revoked.

In a long letter addressing the issue, Baptist Union general secretary Lynn Green said: "It is this question that has arisen from the grassroots that now needs to be responded to by us nationally.  

"The process of doing this was begun at Baptist Union Council in March because Council is responsible for approving any changes to the Ministerial Recognition Rules.  

"Council is very aware of the significance of any possible change and is committed to creating a process that considers and responds to this question in a way that reflects the whole of our Baptist movement.  

"I can only apologise if you have been given the impression that any decision would be reached without consultation.  

"I am completely clear that this is not the way we do things as Baptists.  If you would like further details, please read this report of our current position, the question being asked and the initial discussion of Baptist Union Council."

A number of conversations and a consultation will take place in the coming months but no time scale has been provided. The Baptist Union has, however, confirmed that no decision will be made at the Council meeting in October.

As part of the Baptist Union, individual churches have autonomy to set their own rules in regards to hosting same sex marriages of members in their buildings. When the government changed the law in 2013 to allow churches to host gay weddings, the Union said it would not intervene, "upholding the liberty of a local church to determine its own mind on this matter".

However after further reflection, in 2016, it released a statement urging churches who were considering conducting same sex marriages to "refrain from doing so out of mutual respect".

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