THE United Reformed Church (URC) has become the first Christian
denomination in the UK to allow the registration of civil
partnerships in its churches.
The URC's General Assembly passed a resolution on Saturday,
which took effect immediately. A statement from the URC said that a
"decision about applying to register as a legal place for civil
partnerships will be in the hands of each local church meeting". It
said that it did not know how many URC churches would register, but
"several . . . have made it known that they will be seeking
They include City United Reformed Church in Cardiff, whose
minister, the Revd Adrian Bulley, said that the church had "for
many years" hosted services of blessing for same-sex couples
entering civil partnerships.
The Revd Kirsty Thorpe, immediate past Moderator of the United
Reformed Church, said: "There are other congregations in the United
Reformed Church for whom the possible recognition in church of
same-sex relationships would be a total contradiction of their
theological understanding and identity. I hope and pray that we can
continue to respect one another's diversity on this matter."
On Sunday, the Unitarian Chief Officer, Derek McAuley, said that
the URC's decision was "another step towards full inclusion of LGBT
people within the churches".
On Thursday of last week, the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg,
said, in an interview with the Evening Standard, that churches
should not be prevented from conducting same-sex marriages. He
said: "This is a personal view at the moment, but I think that in
exactly the same way that we shouldn't force any church to conduct
gay marriage, we shouldn't stop any church that wants to conduct
The Coalition for Marriage said that Mr Clegg's statement went
"much further than the plans announced by the Government earlier
this year". The campaign's director, Colin Hart, said: "The hollow
and meaningless statements that changing the law would only affect
civil marriage are being shown to be completely misleading and
On Saturday, Christians joined the World Pride march in London,
under the banner "Christians Together at Pride". The event took
place without the traditional floats.
The chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
(LGCM), the Revd Sharon Ferguson, said: "With the wonderful changes
we have seen in the past few years to equality legislation in the
UK, it is easy to become complacent and believe that there is no
longer a need for campaigning."