Church in Wales to bless same-sex unions after historic vote

The Church in Wales' Bench of Bishops

The Church in Wales has voted to allow same-sex couples to be blessed in its churches, although same-sex marriages will still not be allowed.

The bill to allow the blessings and declaring it “pastorally unsustainable” to ban them was introduced by the church’s bench of bishops, and went to a vote by the church’s governing body on Monday (6 September).

All three orders of the church’s governing body passed the bill: the bishops voted unanimously, the clergy passed it by 28 to 12, with two abstentions, and the laity passed it by 49 to 10, with one abstention.

The bill will introduce blessings “experimentally” for five years, and individual clergy are free to decide whether or not to take part in the services.

Ruth Eleri James, a queer woman and trainee priest in the Church in Wales, told the “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.

“But it’s also important because this is a message to LGBT+ 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.”

However James also admitted that there was much further to go for true LGBT+ acceptance in the Church in Wales.

“I do see the point of people who say this doesn’t go far enough,” she added.

“But I think a step towards justice is a step in the right direction.”

The Church of England trails behind the Church in Wales, still refusing to bless same-sex couples

Evangelical Anglican Jayne Ozanne, who campaigns for LGBT+ equality the Church of England as well as in other faith communities, wrote on Twitter: “The Church in Wales has just passed the canon to bless same sex unions! Praise God!

“If we want all in our care to flourish and thrive, and for our churches to grow, we must learn to embrace diversity and be known as people who practice what we preach.

“Love is love, and where this is found between two adults it is something that should be celebrated and indeed blessed.

“I yearn for the day when the Church of England has the courage to make the same step.”

The Church of England does not recognise same-sex marriage, nor does it bless same-sex couples, and will only allow clergy in same-sex couples to minister if they remain celibate.

The concept of same-sex blessings is set to be discussed at the General Synod in 2022.