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Church of England votes against gay marriage report 

The General Synod of the Church of England has rejected a report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships following a debate yesterday, introduced by the Bishop of Norwich.

The House of Bishops and the House of Laity voted positively to “take note” of the Report from the Hosue of Bishops, but the House of Clergy voted against it, meaning that the “take note” motion was rejected.

Earlier in the day the Rt Rev Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, opened the debate noting that he had been involved in discussing same sex relationships for over 40 years of ordained ministry: "As a curate in the late 1970s I recall leading a deanery synod discussion on the Gloucester Report on homosexual relationships.  No one else was willing to do it.  Little did I think that almost 40 years later I'd be standing before the General Synod presenting another report on the same subject.  It is a very provisional report, as it says of itself.   Like others which have gone before it, it has not received a rapturous reception in all quarters, and I regret any pain or anger it may have caused."   

Bishop Graham said: "I would be misleading you if I did not confess to being conflicted in presenting this report but in that I think I am far from alone among the bishops and in the wider Church of England... Our own history in dealing with these matters also explains why people on all sides of the debate rarely find themselves satisfied."

He went on to say: “Next week I will have been a bishop for 24 years. Throughout that time I have cherished the friendships of many gay people and sought to support the gay clergy in my diocese and tried to make it a safe and welcoming place for their ministry. Only they can say whether they feel that’s true. But I know the Church of England owes them much. Some minister in our most challenging parishes and situations.

“I am also a bishop who seeks to be loyal to the Catholic tradition of our church and to the doctrine of the universal Church as we have received it. I do not seek to elevate my opinion and experience above that of scripture and the received tradition of the Church. I’ve learned much too from evangelical clergy and laity who have frequently challenged me in my understanding of scripture. The promises made at my episcopal consecration remain with me on a daily basis. I do accept the holy scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation,” said Bishop Graham.

Responding to the vote, Bishop Graham said: "I can guarantee that the House of Bishops will consider carefully and prayerfully all the contributions made in the debate today. "When reports come to the General Synod they often come at the end of a process and contain recommendations.  This wasn't that sort of report.  The Bishops came to this debate committed to listen. Our report did not bring proposals, it brought a framework and a request for Synod to tell us what they thought. We have listened to those who have spoken, and those others who have made contributions to us directly. Our ongoing discussions will be informed by what members of Synod and the wider church have said as a result of this report."
Read the full presentation by Bishop Graham


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