Same-sex weddings are now blessed!
The Anglican Church in Wales has approved the blessing of same-sex married couples. This means that clergy can now offer blessings on same-sex unions like they do with heterosexual married couples, but this does not mean they will perform same-sex marriage ceremonies inside the church itself since the Church doesn’t allow marriages between same-sex people yet.
Also, an exemption clause allows clergy not to offer these blessings if they do not wish.
The church needs to be more fair and inclusive
The Welsh bishops described their decision as a “step on the way towards repentance of a history in the church which has demonized and persecuted gay and lesbian people”.
The church’s leaders are promising to be more welcoming after “precluding them [LGBTQ people] from living publicly and honestly lives of a committed partnership.”
A unanimous vote
The three orders of the Church’s governing body - bishops, clergy, and laity- adopted the project at a meeting in early September. The results were unanimous, as you can see!
- the bishops unanimously adopted the project
- the clergy approved it with a 28-12 vote, and 2 abstentions
- the laity approved it with a 49-10 vote, and 1 abstention
The Anglican Church in Wales has revealed that it will allow blessings of same-sex unions on an “experimental” basis for the next five years.
Bishop Gregory Cameron of St. Asaph explained that the experimental period is normal practice when putting in place any new liturgy [law].
“I think it’s the hope of the bishops that within those five years, we’ll be able to come to a consensus on marriage [equality]. And when it comes to deciding whether to continue with the blessing service, perhaps the church will be in a position to be bold enough to take a further step on gay and lesbian inclusion.
“I’m aware that this is a decision that many in the church will find hard,” he added. “I believe it’s the right decision, and it will give joy and hope to many LGBT+ people.”
A controversial decision
This historic decision has also created a rift among church members with those who think the Anglican Church in Wales is moving in an acceptable direction and others that feel it’s not enough.
For example, Ruth and her partner Hannah welcomed the opening of blessings to LGBTQ couples.
“It’s so important to us because it will reflect the real love and welcome that we have personally experienced in our local churches, who we know long to be able to offer something to couples who are in same-sex relationships,” Ruth told the BBC.
“But it’s also important because this is a message to LGBTQ folk in society at large to say their relationships are loved and blessed by God, and that’s a message that hasn’t been given, certainly in my lifetime, and I long to be able to share that with people.”
She added: “I do see the difficulty in not being able to have that, and I do see the point of people who say this doesn’t go far enough. But I think a step towards justice is a step in the right direction.”
But many others are questioning what’s next, like Niki Stark Devlin, who is a Quaker. She told the BBC that much of the LGBTQ community is “very likely” to avoid blessings. She called the offer “placatory” and “meaningless”.
“It also will set back actual equal marriage back by a long way, as many of the heterosexual community will now feel that they’ve ‘made a gesture’ and that should be sufficient,” she said. “I can not see many wanting a ‘blessing’ if they can instead move to either Quakerism [her religion] or the United Reform Church and have an actual marriage in the eyes of God.”
The Anglican Church in Wales gave the green light to the blessings of same-sex couples. This decision is certainly controversial, but at least it’s a step in the right direction, unlike other churches who remain firmly opposed and homophobic towards LGBTQ people like Roman Catholic or The Church of England. Let us hope that the Anglican Church in Wales continues towards full acceptance and legal recognition of LGBTQ people within its church.