A survey by the LGB&T Anglican Coalition has already revealed that almost 100 Church of England churches would want to explore registering their buildings to offer Civil Partnerships if the Church of England would allow it.
The Coalition says that the survey they have carried out is small but clearly indicative of churches' desire to support same-sex couples in their long-term, faithful commitments.
The news comes as registration forms for religious buildings become available for the first time this month following the end of the Government ban in December 2011.
The revelation that so many Anglican Churches would want to explore registration shows the disparity between the official stance of the Church of England and that of ordinary parishes, say supporters of the move.
Canon Giles Goddard, a member of the Coalition and chair of Inclusive Church commented: “The 95 churches we have identified are the tip of the iceberg. Patience with the Church of England is wearing thin among lesbian and gay Anglicans and their friends and families. The church needs to learn to become inclusive and welcoming to all. We hope that measures will soon be taken so that individual parishes can opt into offering blessings and legal ceremonies.”
At present any such application would be rejected by Registrars because applications require the consent of the Church’s governing body, the General Synod, and there are no plans to ask General Synod whether it would give consent or not.
The House of Bishops has begun a review of Church policy on Civil Partnerships however, under the leadership of The Bishop of Sodor and Man, The Rt Rev Robert Paterson. Alongside considering whether clergy in Civil Partnerships can be appointed as Bishops, it is also expected to update church policy in the light of recent changes in legislation.
The Rev Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude England and member of the Coalition, explained: “Congregations which are welcoming and open to LGB&T people, are impatient in their desire to model the infinite love of God for all creation and provide spiritual and pastoral care for lesbian and gay people who wish to celebrate their love and fidelity with their partner in church.”
Since Civil Partnerships began in 2005, over 47,000 have been registered, and there is growing evidence that many couples want to register their partnerships in a church or other religious context.
Ekklesia is a supporter both of Inclusive Church and also of Accepting Evangelicals, which between them reflect a wide spectrum of theological conviction in favour of affirming LGBT people within the life of the Christian community.