Draft prayers of thanksgiving, dedication and for God’s blessing for same-sex couples were published on 20 January along with a book of draft worship resources.
The draft texts, proposed by the bishops of the Church of England, will be considered by General Synod, in February, alongside other proposals in response to the six-year Living in Love and Faith process of listening, learning and discernment on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
The resource seeks to offer a variety of ways for clergy to affirm and celebrate same-sex couples in the Church. The prayers will be discretionary. The Church doctrine that Holy Matrimony is between one man and one woman will not change at this time.
The bishops of the Church of England issued a pastoral letter with a public apology to LGBTQIA+ people for the rejection and exclusion they have experienced within the Church. They admitted that “we have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong” and “we affirm, publicly and unequivocally, that LGBTQIA+ people are welcome and valued: we are all children of God.”
Following the publication, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, said:
“As I’ve listened to the stories and experiences of LGBTQ+ people, all of my pastoral instincts pointed to finding a way of interpreting the Bible to allow for greater love and support, tolerance and the blessing of their partnerships. It is very good for us to be able to say today that the church can now offer public services of blessing, but we know that we have further to go.
“I also look forward to the publication of new pastoral guidance in the coming months and confidently expect this will enable our clergy to order their relationships according to their own conscience and allow them the freedom to enter into same-sex civil marriage.”
The new pastoral guidance will be published in the coming months, following the meeting of the General Synod in February.
The Bishop of Oxford spoke to Sky News on 20 January following the publication of the draft prayers:
Together in Love and Faith
The Bishop of Oxford's essay Together in Love and Faith, released in November 2022, sets out the bishop's changing views on same-sex marriage over the last decade, and calls for Church of England clergy to have the freedom to bless and marry same-sex couples. The essay can be downloaded as a PDF and is also available as an e-publication for Kindle.
High-resolution images are available for press use, with credit: Photo (C) Steven Buckley | Diocese of Oxford. Download the images.
There has been significant media coverage of Together in Love and Faith since publication in November. A range of media clippings is available on this page.