A PCC in North London has passed a motion condemning the House
of Bishops' pastoral guidance which banned clergy from holding
services of blessing for same-sex marriages (
News, 21 February).
The council of St Mary the Virgin, in the parish of East Barnet,
passed the motion earlier this month as a response to the
prohibition, and has now sent it to its diocesan bishop, the Bishop
of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith.
The motion states: "The ongoing prohibition upon the public
blessing of same-sex couples implies that the church has
reservations about those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. We
believe this is at odds with the bishops' firm rejection of
The Rector of East Barnet, the Revd James Mustard, said that the
bishops appeared to believe in "loving the sinner, not the sin"
when it came to gay relationships. "The bishops are trying to solve
this issue doctrinally . . . but that doesn't really help us in
something like this, where it is going to be experience that guides
"This is very counter-productive," he said. "There are big
consequences for mission. According to surveys, there could be up
to 900 gay people in my parish, and they all have friends and
family. I think there is a real problem there."
He said that it was important supporters of same-sex
relationships began to make their voices heard, in case the bishops
were lobbied only by those opposed to blessings for gay
The full resolution read:
To the Bishop of St Albans,
from the Rector, Churchwardens and Parochial Church Council
of East Barnet.
1. In partnership with our bishops, we are committed to
upholding the Established ministry of the Church of England in this
parish. We believe that the church exists for the benefit of all:
people of all faiths and none.
2. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people, and others who do not
identify as heterosexual, live in our parish, as they do in every
parish in the land. The Church of England's bishops stand firmly
against homophobia. It is implicit, therefore, that the church
exists for everyone, to enfold the lives of all into our parish
communities and incorporate them into the Body of Christ, whatever
3. The ongoing prohibition upon the public blessing of
same-sex couples implies that the church has reservations about
those who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. It suggests that the church
does not cherish them so much as fully to embrace them. We believe
this is at odds with the bishops' firm rejection of
4. The House of Bishops states "the proposition that
same sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in
dispute" and it wishes to see virtues of "genuine mutuality and
fidelity" in all relationships "maximized in society." This implies
that same-sex relationships can be positive and can contribute to
the common good.
5. By limiting our ability publicly to bless and
recognize God's grace in same-sex relationships, the House of
Bishops implies that the church does not view them as positive and
does not wish to encourage them. We believe this contradicts the
bishops' desire to see the virtues of these relationships maximized
6. If we cannot publicly recognise God's grace in
same-sex relationships, we do not believe we can fully incorporate
people in these relationships, or those who might enter into these
relationships, into the community of faith. We believe this is
dissonant with the mission of the church.
7. We urge the House of Bishops to adopt the Pilling
Report's recommendation that "a priest with the agreement of the
relevant PCC should be free to mark the formation of a permanent
same-sex relationship in a public service."