The Revd Jim Cotter blessed a civil partnership between two women at St Hywyn’s, Aberdaron, in North Wales on 12 July. The couple live in Yorkshire, but have a holiday home in Wales. Jim Cotter said he had been given approval by the local church council to carry out the ceremony and acknowledged the blessing of civil partnerships in church was a “grey area. Jim said the service was a “day of great delight and healing”. He claimed there had been no local opposition and that three members of his local church council had attended the service, as well as a dozen friends of the couple.
A complaint was later made about the service and the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan wrote to Mr Cotter telling him he had exceeded his authority, since the church has no liturgy for same-sex unions. Dr Morgan is a patron of Changing Attitude England. He has said that he would be happy to ordain homosexual clergy.
The Church in Wales said in a statement: “The Church in Wales regards marriage as the lifelong union between a man and a woman, and this is what is conveyed in its liturgy and recognised in law. The Church in Wales does not and has not authorised public services for the blessing of same-sex unions and therefore has no liturgy for such partnerships. The service which took place at St Hywyn’s Aberdaron on July 12 should not have taken place and the Archbishop is dealing with the matter. The Church in Wales does, however, affirm the value of committed friendships between people of the same sex, and clergy are encouraged to minister sensitively and pastorally to gay and lesbian people. ”
Jim Cotter is best known as a writer and composer of prayers and liturgies and has been a leading advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT in the Church. He has permission to officiate in the diocese of Bangor, where the Bishop, the Rt Revd Anthony Crockett, died earlier in 2008. Mr Cotter said that he would discuss the issue with the Bishop’s successor when he was appointed.