24 June 2008

Church services and civil partnerships

Inclusive Church today publishes a paper by the Revd Brian Lewis, a member of General Synod and of IC’s Executive Committee on the law in relation to services after Civil Partnerships. The paper demonstrates that under the laws of the Church of England – especially Canon B5 - clergy have far greater liberty in this area than is commonly thought. They are permitted to carry out services of prayer and dedication following a civil partnership so long as they are not deemed to be "Services of Blessing". The paper is at online at www.inclusivechurch.net.

Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church, said "We very much welcome this long overdue clarification of the law. It makes the distinction between marriages and civil partnerships and sets out what is permissible within the terms of Canon B5. We hope it will be helpful for clergy wishing to provide public services which respond prayerfully and pastorally to the needs of their congregations.”

Revd Lewis makes the comparison with the Service of Prayer and Dedication following a Civil Wedding (popularly described as a "A Church Blessing"). In these services the individuals are blessed without the service becoming "a Service of Blessing".