Saturday, 9 July 2016

URC to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in its churches

The United Reformed Church has this afternoon voted to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in its churches. This press release has been issued:

The United Reformed Church votes to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in its churches

This afternoon, Saturday 9 July 2016, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (URC) voted in favour of allowing its local churches to conduct and register marriages for same-sex couples. This means that the URC is now the largest UK denomination to freely permit the celebration and registration of marriages of same-sex couple in its churches.

A two-thirds majority was needed to allow the proposal to be confirmed as the denomination’s final decision – Assembly voted in favour of the resolution by 240 votes to 21 votes. United Reformed churches in England and Wales wishing to register their buildings for the marriage of same-sex couples are now able to start that process immediately. (In Scotland the legal framework is rather different, but the effects of the Church’s decision will be broadly similar.)

The process which culminated in today’s vote has been a lengthy one. The General Assembly has considered the proposal twice before – in 2014, and again in a special, single issue Assembly, which met in June 2015. It has long been clear that the denomination cannot express a single view on the issue of same-sex marriage and, at the 2015 Assembly it was ruled that that the decision on whether an individual United Reformed Church congregation can host marriages of same-sex couples lies wholly with each local church. This is the policy that was confirmed today as the Church’s decision.

Speaking of the process and today’s vote, the Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the URC said: ‘Today the URC has made an important decision – at which some will rejoice and with which others will be uncomfortable. Those of our churches who now wish to offer full marriage services to same-sex couples are free to do just that – and those churches who do not wish to are not compelled to. All are part of this denomination. This has been a sensitive issue for many in our churches. It has been important to take our time over the decision process, and to listen as carefully as we can to one another along the way.’

Press reports

Mark Woods Christian Today United Reformed Church to allow same-sex marriages

Callum May BBC News United Reformed Church approves gay marriage services

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at 8:52pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

So that proves it is reasonable for Christians to believe that same sex marriage is not un-Biblical.

Good news.

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at 9:03pm BST

The URC is one of the fastest declining denominations in England.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at 9:51pm BST

"The URC is one of the fastest declining denominations in England".
Hopefully their welcome decision will help slow the decline.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at 10:45pm BST

Your comment, Robert, some how implies that there is a link between "success" in numbers and a decision to do what is right!

I am quite sure that the URC has not taken this decision because they feel it will make them popular or fill their pews, but because they believe it is what God is calling them to do!

I believe a smaller church, which is doing the will of God, is more important than a bigger one, such as is often seen in Africa, which pedals popular prejudice for financial gain and political influence.

Whatever our beliefs, liberal of conservative, numbers are surely not the measure of success? Instead faithfulness to the Gospel is what we should stand firm in.

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Saturday, 9 July 2016 at 11:17pm BST

Folks may be interested in the comments made yesterday to Canada's General Synod (now in session) by The Anglican communion General Secretary:

"Speaking of his home province of Nigeria, a nation in which homosexuality is illegal, Idowu-Fearon noted that “the struggle for the legal, social spiritual and physical safety of gay and lesbian members is an issue” that the Nigerian church has to face, given the Anglican Communion’s unambiguous denunciation of homophobia at the 1998 Lambeth Conference and at multiple Primates’ Meetings since then.
He argued, however, that it is for the Nigerian church to take the lead in confronting this issue."

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Sunday, 10 July 2016 at 12:49pm BST

It's coming...slowly but surely...we are on the side of the angels after all! Sadly our Church of England is not in the vanguard but we shall no doubt eventually catch up and hitch our wagon to the change. Its a shame we have not set the pace....who would have thought it would be a Tory government which would put us to shame?

Posted by: Robert Ellis on Sunday, 10 July 2016 at 1:41pm BST

Thank you Iain. Amen to your comment.

Posted by: Anne Lee on Sunday, 10 July 2016 at 4:00pm BST

Well said Iain. Sad for the C of E.

Posted by: JEAN Mayalnd on Sunday, 10 July 2016 at 6:25pm BST

And once again the C or E is leading from the cutting edge of the Bronze Age.

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 11 July 2016 at 11:47am BST

"Whatever our beliefs, liberal of conservative, numbers are surely not the measure of success? Instead faithfulness to the Gospel is what we should stand firm in."

And we should not underestimate the importance of a congregation, even if small, who have resolved to unconditionally love one another rather than to judge one another.

Posted by: Kate on Monday, 11 July 2016 at 11:52am BST

The Churches have missed something by being so far behind the curve. Marriage equality became law some years ago, and it would have been quite something, if people could have married in church at that time.

In fact, those who 'convert' their Civil Partnership' into marriage, are deemed to have been married from that date ! Time travel!

Thus, I have been married since 2006 in the eyes of the British state, without benefit of a nuptial mass.

Still, the URC are ahead of the Church of England, The Church of Rome, Methodism ....

but not the Religious Society of Friends.

Even the BUGB have reluctantly opened the way for congregations to be congregations, and to do what they do, in the Baptist polity.

I am glad young people will now have a little more choice.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 11 July 2016 at 4:40pm BST

By URC standards - at least on S/S Marriage - The Anglican 'Reform' Movement is moving backwards.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 at 10:24am BST
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