In England and Wales yesterday, the legal ban on Civil Partnerships in religious buildings came to an end. From the new year, Churches will be able to apply to register their place of worship to conduct Civil Partnerships. Furthermore, ceremonies in churches will also be able to be set in the context of religious prayers and liturgy.
For many LGB&T Christians this is a significant step forward. There was considerable disquiet about the ban on anything religious being associated with Civil Partnerships, and many have thought it was both unnecessary and unjust.
The move has prompted much media interest over the weekend with live debates on Radio 4, and a whole host of newspaper articles. For a roundup of the media coverage, (and the continuing legal battles) Thinking Anglicans is a good place to start.
Individual congregations will, however, need to permission of their denomination to register. Several denominations have indicated who this must be:
Church of England – General Synod
Church in Wales – Governing Body of the Church in Wales
Methodist – Conference of the Methodist Church
Roman Catholic – General Secretary of the Bishops Conference
What has not been made clear however, is whether those denominations will be asking their governing bodies if such permission would be granted. In the case of the Church of England, the press office has gone further and said that “The Church of England has no intention of allowing Civil Partnerships to be registered in its churches.”
On the other hand, the Church of England’s House of Bishops has also announced who will be taking part in the long awaited review group on Civil Partnerships. The group will be reviewing the Pastoral Statement which the CofE issued on Civil Partnerships in 2005, and will be made up of:
The Bishop of Sodor and Man – The Rt Rev Robert Paterson (Chair)
The Bishop of Portsmouth – The Rt Rev Christopher Foster
The Bishop of Dorchester – The Rt Rev Colin Fletcher
There is growing evidence that significant numbers of Church of England churches would want to register for Civil Partnerships so…
Why not email them and ask them when General Synod will be asked if it will give permission for churches to apply to Register Civil Partnerships?
(For email addresses – follow the links above)