Church of England Evangelical Council calls for ‘resistance’ to same-sex marriage blessings

A gay christian holds a sign that reads "proud to be gay, now make me proud to be christian"

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has called on Anglicans opposed to plans by the Church of England to allow same-sex marriage blessings. 

In the declaration – which the CEEC is asking Anglicans to sign –  the council says they are “compelled” to “resist all attempts” to introduce the change. 

“This action represents a departure from the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the Catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness,” the declaration reads. 

In Feburary, the General Synod – the Church of England’s decision-making body – announced the it would double-down on its same-sex marriage ban, but offer blessings to same-sex couples instead. 

The blessings are not compulsory and members of the clergy can refuse to perform them, with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby saying he would not bless such couples

After five years of consultation, the Church of England’s decision put the religious organisation well behind other churches in the UK.  

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The Church of Scotland voted to allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriages in 2022 and the Church of Wales approved a blessing service for same-sex partnerships in 2021.

The CEEC was one of the Anglican groups which opposed the move to bless same-sex couples. 

In the declaration, the council does acknowledge the “hurt that we have sometimes caused to LGBTQI+ people” and agrees the church should “value LGBTQI+ people and be a place where everyone is welcome”.

“We too apologise and repent for the times we have failed and continue to fail to love them as God loves them,” the council states. 

However, the CEEC says it cannot accept the move to offer blessings as these changes “deny the authority of Scripture” and “depart from the received historic understanding of the Church”. 

Calling on Anglicans to sign the declaration, the council said: “We recognise that it is not always easy to take a stand but we assure you of the prayers and support of CEEC and the Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship in your diocese.”

Former government LGBTQ+ adviser, General Synod member and director of the Ozanne Foundation Jayne Ozanne shared an article she wrote for ViaMedia on the topic.

She said liberal members of the church are being held “ransom” by those who hold more traditional views.

“One just has to listen to the tone of their rhetoric to hear how cold and self-righteous they have become. It does really rather feel like the bullies have taken over the playground, and we’re all meant to just sit back and watch.

“I’m not sure what they think they are achieving – for they must know by now that they aren’t going to change our minds?” she said.

She added: “This constant refusal to allow those of us who believe, in all integrity, that Scripture, tradition and reason supports a Church of England that wishes to marry those of us of the same-sex, is sheer stubbornness.

“It is not biblical, it is not rational, it is not founded in tradition and therefore, by definition, it is clearly not Anglican.”

It added that it will publish the names of supporters in the future and offer the declaration to bishops, to “impress upon them the widespread and strongly held opposition to their proposals”.

Ed Shaw, Co-chair CEEC, told PinkNews: “The Church of England Evangelical Council represents many Anglican Christians, including some, like me, who would identify as LGBTQIA+, who believe the bible is clear that sex is for the marriage of a man and a woman. 

“We remain unconvinced that the House of Bishops proposals will create a safe and happy space within the Church of England for us, or those who are seeking the introduction of same-sex marriage.”

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