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Vote on Church of England’s proposals for same-sex blessings postponed

by Kelly Valencia

UPDATE: Plans for same-sex blessings have now passed at the Church of England's General Synod. More here.


The Church of England’s historical debate on blessing couples in same-sex unions will continue for one extra day. 

Wednesday saw members of the General Synod participate in a five-hour debate on whether to proceed with proposals made by the House of Bishops for a new treatment of couples in same-sex relationships within the church.

By introducing a new set of prayers, the proposals seek to allow clergy to hold services of thanksgiving and blessing for couples in same-sex relationships. 

But after a key amendment requesting the House of Bishops give “further legal, theological, and practical consideration” to the proposed prayers was defeated, the General Synod’s chairman decided to move the ‘final’ vote on the motion to Thursday. 

The amendment, which was brought forward by Rev Kate Wharton from the Diocese of Liverpool, failed to pass after a close vote by the houses. 

In the House of bishops, 15 members voted in favour and 27 against. In the House of Clergy, 90 voted in favour while 108 voted against. Similarly, in the House of Laity, 97 voted in favour and 104 against. 

None of the 19 amendments debated were successful in changing the original motion. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury made two substantial interventions. Firstly, he explained his reasons for supporting the current proposals, not because he is "controlled by culture" but because he thinks it is right to do so.

He said his decision to support the proposals was based on “scripture, reason and tradition”. 

On a second occasion, Archbishop Justin tearfully urged members of Synod not to support an amendment that would require the General Secretary of the Synod, William Nye, to "consult personally the Primate of each Province of the Anglican Communion" on the impact Synod’s decision might have on its relationship with the Church of England. 

"This isn't something I take lightly, you know. It's the most painful thing I've ever known," Archbishop Justin said.

"Please reject this, because I beg you to believe there is nothing in my life or heart or prayers that comes as high as the safety and the flourishing of the people I love in the Anglican Communion."

He continued: "Please reject this amendment not because the Spirit's wrong, I entirely agree with it but because it's wrongly structured, and we must also do right here as part of the church catholic". 

Synod also saw interventions from the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous and the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, Anba Angelos. 

There are nine amendments left for discussion. 

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