Church in Wales’ landmark blessing for gay couple
A gay couple have been officially blessed by the Church in Wales for the first time since the new service of blessing was approved in September.
Father Lee Taylor and his partner Fabiano Da Silva Duarte, who entered a civil partnership in 2008, were blessed by the Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Reverend Gregory Cameron, and was held at St Collen’s Church in Llangollen, Denbighshire, where Father Taylor is the priest-in-charge.
Father Taylor confirmed that the event felt “extremely special, moving and meaningful” but added there were mixed feelings that same-sex marriages are still not permitted by the Church in Wales.
Speaking to the BBC he said: “It feels like we are only halfway there. I would like to see the Church in Wales move forward now with same-sex marriages in church.
“I believe that making a covenant with our spouse in marriage is a reflection of God’s own covenant with us through Jesus.”
“We both have a deep faith and love of God, and the church has always played an important part in our lives.
“We are very excited to have made this next step in our journey together.”
The Church in Wales governing body voted to allow same-sex blessings in September, initially on a five-year experimental basis, with an option for individual clergy to opt-out of conducting the ceremony based on a “conscience clause”.
Following the vote, Bishops at the Church of Wales had set out an explanatory memorandum explaining the significance of the rite and said that it could pave the way for same-sex church weddings.
“Approval of this rite would be stating that the Church in Wales accepts that the loving and faithful commitment of two persons of the same sex, aspiring to life-long fidelity and mutual comfort, and who have made a commitment in civil partnership or marriage, is worthy of acceptance by the church by asking God’s blessing upon their commitment,” they said.
They added that it would be a “step on the way towards repentance of a history in the church which has demonised and persecuted gay and lesbian people, forcing them into fear, dishonesty and sometimes even hypocrisy, and which has precluded them from living publicly and honestly lives of committed partnership”.
The Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales criticised the vote, saying: “The only biblical context for sexual activity is heterosexual marriage” and accusing the church of changing the doctrine on marriage and of dishonouring “those who, persuaded that Scripture teaches that sexual activity is restricted to heterosexual marriage, have chosen to remain celibate”.
Despite the EFCW’s vehement rejection of the decision, LGBTQ+ campaigners and others within the church have declared that the Church in Wales has done the right thing.
There are plans to discuss a similar move in the Church of England – which currently does not recognise same-sex marriages, forbids clergy to bless same-sex unions and insists gay and lesbian clergy must be celibate – at the synod next year.
The Scottish Episcopal church voted to allow same-sex couples to marry in church in 2017, and other UK Christian denominations that permit same-sex marriages include the Quakers in Britain, the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, and the United Reformed Church.
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