9 February 2023
The Church of England’s General Synod has supported a motion welcoming proposals that would enable same-sex couples to come to church after a civil marriage or partnership to give thanks, dedicate their relationship to God and receive God’s blessing.
Synod members also voted to “lament and repent” of the failure of the Church to welcome LGBTQI+ people and for the harm that LGBTQI+ people have experienced - and continue to experience - in churches.
A motion which details and recognises a series of proposals put forward by the bishops on human identity and marriage was agreed by majorities in the Houses of Bishops, Clergy and Laity after a landmark debate over two days.
Earlier this week Synod members also met in small groups to consider and comment on a set of draft texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith, which could be used voluntarily in churches for couples who have marked a significant stage of their relationship such as a civil marriage or civil partnership.
Synod’s comments will now guide the bishops as they refine those texts carefully and prepare new pastoral guidance for the Church on sexuality and marriage in the coming months before the prayers are formally commended for use in churches.
Commenting on the vote, The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani said:
“I welcome today’s vote from General Synod whilst at the same time recognising that this has been and continues to be a very painful process for many people. I know that for some these prayers have not gone far enough and for others they represent too much change.
“As a College and House of Bishops, we have listened carefully, as was the intention, and we are committed to ongoing discussion. We have particularly heard the importance of guarding the consciences of those who will not be able to use these prayers.
“My ongoing commitment, together with our Area Bishops and the other members of the Bishop’s Leadership Team, is to promote and encourage a way of travelling well together, despite the differences in what we believe, and despite the inevitable pain those differences cause.”