A Church of England bishop has spoken out in favour of introducing a formal ceremony for same-sex unions, although the church officials are divided in their opinions over the issue. Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu insists on the necessity of being LGBT-welcoming and inclusive, the church needs reforms. The Bishop of Chelmsford Stephen Cottrell spoke on the issue in an address last week, giving his own backing to a formal unions of gay couples in the church. “The Archbishops’ phrase ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’ needs some unpacking. It will be in doing this that we find ways forward that both preserve the unity of the church, respect the conscientious disagreement of those who are opposed to any change, and begin to give a greater welcome to gay and lesbian people. Let me plain: LGBTI+ people are welcome in the churches of the Chelmsford diocese. They are welcome and we want to listen to them and work with them so as to find appropriate ways of expressing their love – for it is not good for human beings to be alone – in permanent, faithful,
stable relationships. At the moment there is no consensus in the Church of England for those relationships to be formally blessed in Church, or for the Church of England to embrace same-sex marriage, but the current arrangements do welcome lay people and clergy into civil partnerships and there is no reason why prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships – perhaps a Eucharist – cannot be offered. We do not want same-sex couples to be cut off from the Church, and we want those who come to us seeking God’s blessing for their love to receive the guidance, challenge and support of the Church,” the bishop says in a statement.
“We need to find ways of living with this diversity, not being torn apart by it. [T]his will, I know, be hard for some people to hear. Some think even this a step too far; and others think it nowhere near far enough. But I hope and pray that even these small steps will make a difference, for the pastoral and missiological implications of this issue, especially with young people, mean that we must do something, and that we cannot simply wait till there is complete ecumenical and Anglican Communion agreement before doing anything.”