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Church of England backs services for gay couples

In a First, parishes under the Church of England will allow special services for gay couples, which will include the wearing of rings, prayers, confetti, and a blessing from the priest, but not formal weddings.

Although the Church of England’s official teaching is that marriage is only between one man and one woman, an amendment to back the services on a trial basis passed in the General Synod — the Church’s legislative body — by one vote on Wednesday, reports the BBC.

The passing of the vote means that the distinct services of blessing could now be allowed, rather than simply prayers within a normal church service. While there is no set timeframe for temporary trial services to begin, it is understood these could be authorized in the coming weeks with the first services in the new year.

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The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Stephen Croft, who has campaigned for a change in the Church’s stance, said he was “delighted”. Noting the services would not be official weddings, he added: “I hope there will be a similar joy and affirmation, and those that come to receive these prayers will feel fully welcomed into the life of the church.”

The Church of England’s official position on marriage is at odds with its Anglican equivalent in Scotland — The Scottish Episcopal Church — and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, which both allow same-sex weddings, the BBC reported.

The Anglican Church in Wales has provided an authorized service of blessing for gay couples but does not allow same-sex weddings in church.

Earlier this year, bishops refused to back a change in teaching that would have allowed priests to marry same-sex couples but said they would allow prayers of blessings for people in gay relationships as part of wider services.

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