A Church of England bishop has refused a licence to Jeremy Pemberton, a hospital chaplain, because he married his partner Laurence Cunnington. This may prevent him from taking up a new job closer to his home. This has further strained church’s leaders’ already tense relationship with those seeking greater inclusion.
Clergy and laypersons should not get into trouble for marrying their same-sex partners, the Methodist Church in Britain agreed. For the time being, only opposite-sex couples will be allowed to marry in church. But a two-year period of study and discussion will examine whether this should change.
Pastors can, if they wish, marry same-sex couples in areas where this is legal, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has decided. The general assembly also called for a change in how marriage is defined, if a majority of presbyteries agree.
"First gay clergyman to wed plunges Church into crisis: Archbishop under pressure to sack canon who flouted ban on same sex marriage", announced the Mail dramatically. "Church of England faces 'crisis' as gay priest weds" was the Telegraph headline.
Letting same-sex couples marry in the Church of England would be catastrophic for Christians in countries such as South Sudan, Nigeria and Pakistan, claimed Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He also has “real hesitations” about equal marriage because of the Bible and tradition.
A pastoral response is vital when considering same-sex partnerships, according to a thought-provoking report by the Standing Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales. The Church in Wales and same-sex partnerships may also be useful to other churches grappling with sexual ethics.
Celebrations are taking place across England and Wales for newly-married same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples. Soon equal marriage will be in place in Scotland too. This is cause for rejoicing not only for the newly-weds, their families and friends but also the wider community.
A group opposed to inclusion has praised Church of England bishops for being negative towards clergy wanting to marry same-sex partners, and urged them to go further. The Evangelical Group of the General Synod (EGGS) committee wants laypeople in same-sex relationships to be disciplined too.
In an open letter, the LGBTI Anglican Coalition has asked the Church of England’s House of Bishops some searching questions regarding Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage. Criticism of the bishops’ guidance, which ruled out clergy being married same-sex partners and services of blessing, has been widespread.