Same-sex couple among first to be blessed in Church of England service describe a ‘healing’ experience

same-sex marriage

A couple has described their “healing” experience after becoming one of the first same-sex partnerships to have their union blessed in a Church of England service.

Catherine Bond and Jane Pearce came together at St John the Baptist Church in Felixstowe, Suffolk over the weekend to celebrate their “love and friendship” and “commitment to one another.”

The service came just days after the House of Bishops voted to sanction the blessing of same-sex couples, to commend the prayers for use in regular worship such as Sunday Eucharist or Evensong, and agreed that same-sex blessings could be handed out from Sunday (17 December).

Pride flag flying from church building
Same-sex couples can now have their unions blessed by the Church of England. (ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty)

The motion, which passed by 24 votes to 11, with three abstentions, means that, for the first time, same-sex couples can have their partnerships or unions blessed by the Anglican Church.

The Church of England’s official teaching, that a marriage is strictly between a man and a woman, remains and there has been no legislative change.

Offering blessings to same-sex couples is a voluntary decision for clergy, and no priest is obligated to offer the service.

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Bond and Pearce, who are both associated priests in the local parish, made history by being among the first same-sex couples to avail of this change, per ITV News.

The couple knelt before the vicar, Canon Andrew Dotchin, on Sunday to display their commitment to each other with their church’s blessing.

Holding Bond and Pearce’s heads as they knelt, Reverend Dotchin said: “We give thanks for Catherine and Jane, to the love and friendship they share, and their commitment to one another as they come before you on this day, trusting you as the keeper of all goodness, strengthening their love by your love, and gladdening their hearts with your joy.”

He added that the happy couple was continuing on their “pilgrimage graced by your [God’s] blessing, with you as their companion in the dark where they can rejoice and hope in sustaining their love for all the days of their lives.”

Commenting on the landmark service, Bond and Pearce said afterward: “It’s been an opportunity for us to feel our love and our relationship blessed in this building.  

“I feel it’s healing, it’s inclusive and I’m just really wanting to encourage lots of other gay couples to come forward and know that the church of England does love them and come and be blessed.”

The blessing comes one month after the Church of England announced plans to introduce special services to bless same-sex unions just last month, stating that it would be done on a trial basis by clergy members who were willing to take part.

The decision was passed by just one vote in the Church of England’s parliament, with many members of the church still unhappy with the decision.

While some complain that it’s a step too far, others welcome it as a step in the right direction and hope for real marriage recognition for same-sex couples in the future.

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