Hereford diocese calls for liturgies following marriage and civil partnership
We are delighted to hear that Hereford Diocesan Synod voted this evening (19 October 2017) in support of a Motion calling for Orders of Service following same-sex marriage and civil partnerships to be made available for those who wish to make use of them. The full resolution, which was passed by a clear margin of 41 in favour, 18 against and 4 abstentions, reads as follows:
"That this Synod request the House of Bishops to commend an Order of Prayer and Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage for use by ministers in exercise of their discretion under Canon B4, being a form of service neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter, together with guidance that no parish should be obliged to host, nor minister conduct, such a service."
A very helpful briefing paper was made available prior to the meeting, which you can read here. As the paper makes clear, the Motion will now be '....added to the Agenda of General Synod, almost certainly ‘parked’ at least in the short term – but available for debate as and when the Business Committee judge it helpful – which may not happen if the question is resolved by other means.' The briefing paper goes on to say that, 'unlike a Private Member’s Motion, it remains on the GS Agenda until debated or resolved otherwise – a similar motion from Southwark on women bishops remained on the agenda for over 10 years, and contributed to moving that process forward.'
Of central importance is the principle of not compelling anyone to act against their conscience - but at the same time permitting those who wish to celebrate and affirm faithful and committed relationships, to act with integrity too. Support for such a motion in a predominantly rural diocese like Hereford reflects what many of our members and supporters know to be true - that in communities across the country, in all kinds of contexts, there is widespread support for affirming same-sex couples, and being alongside them as they expereince the joy and blessing of their relationships.
OneBodyOneFaith welcomes this development and is thankful for those in the diocese who have worked and prayed for this outcome - a small step as we continue to journey together.