Church of England to have married gay laity and clergy in 2014

Dear God, our Creator,
beloved companion and guide upon the way,
eternal Spirit within us and beyond us.

Let us honour your name
in lives of costly, giving love.

Let us show that we and all whom we meet
deserve dignity and respect,
for they are your dwelling place and your home.

Let us share in action
your deep desire for justice and peace
among the peoples of the world.

Let us share our bread with one another,
the bread that you have shared with us.

Let us in the spirit of your forgiving us,
make friends with those we have harmed and failed to love.

Let us overcome our trials and temptations,
our suffering and dying,
in the strength and courage with which you overcame them too.

Let us in your love free the world from evil,
transforming darkness into light.

For the whole universe is yours,
and you invite us to be partners in the work of your creating.

So be it. So will we do it.

Every morning I use one of three of Jim Cotter’s paraphrases of the Lord’s Prayer as I say the daily office. This morning I prayed the version above, from Out of the Silence … Prayer’s Daily Round.

As I prayed in the cold morning light following yesterday’s government announcement about equal marriage, a thought came to me. Many of us are living a different paradigm of Christianity. It’s still Biblical Christianity, and as expressed in Jim’s reworking, I experience it as a more profound, more deeply Christ-like pattern of Christianity, weaving new patterns like a householder who can produce from his or her store things new and old (Matt. 13.52).

The Government expects the gay marriage law to be passed in 2014. Partnered lesbian and gay Anglicans will then be able to contract a Christian marriage in the church of another denomination. The Church of England will have legally, Christianly-married, laity and clergy, worshipping, living and working as married gay and lesbian couples in the Church.

What are the implications and what is the Church going to do about this new reality? I’m thinking of various pastoral and practical outcomes which the C of E, despite the exemptions locked in to the proposed legislation, will have to deal with.

Will married lesbian and gay couples be prayed for in their parish church openly and in the same way as the church prays for straight couples when they announce their marriage, get married, in sickness and tragedy, at the death of a spouse, at a funeral?

Funerals will take place in church – will all C of E parishes acknowledge the married state of the surviving partner?

When Readers and clergy are licensed will the archdeacon and bishop acknowledge that he or she is married? Will the spouse be equally included in the service as would a straight spouse?

Will they receive invitations as a married couple to deanery, archdeaconry and diocesan events?

I’m sure you can think of other practical ways in which the Church of England is going to be confronted with legally married same sex couples in a little over 12 month’s time. I know that you’d have to be something of a masochist to be a married gay couple and attending a FiF or Reform church or conservative evangelical church, but the reality of married gay couples is potentially going to arrive on the doorstep of every church in every parish given the Church of England’s role as the Established Church of England with a duty of pastoral care for everyone in every parish.

I’ll blog later about the negative effects of yesterday’s announcements which left many people feeling very, very angry, but the thoughts I’ve blogged first came from my prayer time this morning as a ray of hope in what seems another bleak moment for LGB&T Anglicans.


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