Bishop investigates same-sex thanksgiving service

17 June 2016

STEPHEN RICHARDS/COMMONS

"Affirmation": St Paul's, Birmingham

"Affirmation": St Paul's, Birmingham

A SERVICE of thanksgiving celebrating the marriage of two men is being investigated by the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart.

The Vicar of St Paul’s, Birmingham, the Revd Mary Gilbert, presided at the service for Dr Richard Edwards and Matthew Leverwas, which was held on 4 June at the church, in the Jewellery Quarter of the city, and included the exchange of rings.

During an “affirmation”, Ms Gilbert said that the congregation was present “to celebrate the start of their married life together, to witness the giving and receiving of rings as a token of their love and commitment, and, in the presence of God, to bless their union: a relationship of mutual fidelity and steadfast love, forsaking all others, holding one another in tenderness and respect, in strength and bravery, as long as they live.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Bishop Urquhart said that he had “recently been made aware” of the service, and was “in the process of establishing what occurred, and will make a further comment in due course”.

The pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage issued by the House of Bishops in 2014 states that services of blessing for couples should not be provided, but that clergy should “respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways”. A “more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances”.

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