Thinking Anglicans

Church Services after Civil Partnerships

InclusiveChurch press release

Church Services after Civil Partnerships

20th June 2008

InclusiveChurch today publishes a paper by Revd Brian Lewis, a member of General Synod and of IC’s Executive Committee on the law in relation to services after Civil Partnerships. The paper demonstrates that under the laws of the Church of England – especially Canon B5 – clergy have far greater liberty in this area than is commonly thought. They are permitted to carry out services of prayer and dedication following a civil partnership so long as they are not deemed to be “Services of Blessing”. The paper is available here, or here as a PDF file.

Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church, said “We very much welcome this long overdue clarification of the law. It makes the distinction between marriages and civil partnerships and sets out what is permissible within the terms of Canon B5. We hope it will be helpful for clergy wishing to provide public services which respond prayerfully and pastorally to the needs of their congregations.”

The Revd Brian Lewis makes the comparison with the Service of Prayer and Dedication following a Civil Wedding (popularly described as a “A Church Blessing”). In these services the individuals are blessed without the service becoming “a Service of Blessing”.

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Pharisee Gamaliel
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Pharisee Gamaliel

What an horrendous piece of casuistry this is from Revd Lewis, worthy of a 1st century Pharisee: The bishops say no to services of blessing after civil partnerships; but we CAN have services that look exactly like weddings; as long as we don’t CALL them ‘services of blessing’ (though they can still contain blessings, all the same). What?! If it is that easy to break Canon Law then there is no hope for trust, order, and discipline in the Church of England, and no hope for those Anglican clergypeople who find it so easy to circumvent church rules. Who would… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Pharisee Gamaliel

“If it is that easy to break Canon Law …”

What Brian Lewis is arguing is precisely that Canon Law does allow room for certain kinds of service to be conducted. He does not seem to comment at all on the specific circumstances of this case, or whether it falls within the category of permitted services he suggests.

And on blessings and ‘a service of blessing’ – I include a blessing in every funeral service I conduct. No-one would sensibly call that ‘a service of blessing’.

Michael Thompson
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Michael Thompson

“Clergypeople’ GHASTLY

What is wrong with “Clergy”

and please why not “cleric” – he/she is a cleric

Various clerics…..