Anglican Bishop of Liverpool calls for blessings for same-sex civil partners

One of the most senior Church of England bishops has broken ranks with colleagues to say that the church should offer blessing services for same-sex couples in civil partnerships

Bishop_James_jones 17 MARCH 2013 | BY ANDREW POTTS

Liverpool Anglican Bishop James Jones has broken ranks with other senior Church of England clergy to call for blessing services to be offered to same-sex couples in civil partnerships.

‘Over the years I have shared with you my thinking about how the gospel of embrace may be felt by those who are gay,’ Jones said in an address to the Diocese of Liverpool Synod.

‘If the Church now recognizes civil partnerships to be a just response to the needs of gay people then surely the Church now has to ask the question whether or not it can deny the blessing of God to that which is just.’

Jones added that historians a hundred years from now would be astounded that the current ‘litmus test of orthodoxy centered on whether or not one had a generous attitude to those who are gay,’ – referring to the current debate over homosexuality in the church.

However Jones stopped short of endorsing church marriages for same-sex couples.

‘I believe that there is a difference between heterosexual union and same gender intimacy and that it is appropriate to maintain that difference in the language we use,’ Jones said.

Jones had been one of a number of senior Anglicans to call for the Very Rev Jeffrey John to stand aside after he was appointed to the role of Bishop of Reading in 2003.

John was openly gay and in a long term committed but celibate relationship with the Rev Grant Holmes – also an Anglican priest – and his appointment to the role sent shockwaves through the Global Anglican Communion.

However Jones, who is due to retire next year, has since apologized to John and has revised his views of LGBT issues in the church.

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Manchester Cross Street Chapel gains civil partnership licence

Manchester Cross Street Chapel gains civil partnership licence

Cross Street Unitarian Chapel will allow gay couples to hold religious and civil ceremonies

Cross Street Unitarian Chapel has been awarded the licence which will allow same-sex couples to hold religious and civil ceremonies in the building.

Rev Jane Barraclough, minister of Cross Street Chapel, said offering the service fulfilled “a basic human right”.

A new law allowing civil partnership ceremonies to be conducted in places of worship came into effect in December.

Rev Barraclough said: “We note with sadness the history of homophobia in many faith traditions as well as the current hateful language from some faith leaders that has received so much coverage in the media.

“But this is a time of great celebration for us, not sadness.”

A Home Office spokesperson said it is the first time a council has contacted the General Register Office to say it has granted a civil partnership licence to a place of worship.

The Unitarian Church is not part of the Church of England and has a number of openly gay ministers.

In 1977, it was formally resolved that the Unitarian ministry be open to all, regardless of sex, race, colour or sexual orientation.

The Church of England has said it will not allow its churches to be used for civil partnership ceremonies unless the full general synod gives its consent.

 – BBC News 

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