IN AN overwhelming synod vote, a regional Australian diocese has encouraged its Bishop to authorise a blessing service for use alongside, or in addition to, same-sex weddings taken by civil celebrants, noting the “widespread national and local support” for the legalising of same-sex marriages.
The motion was passed by the synod of the diocese of Wangaratta, in rural Victoria. It followed the synod charge in which the Bishop, the Rt Revd John Parkes, noted that he was “taking advice” about whether he had “the power at law and the proper theological, exegetical, and hermeneutical justification” to authorise such a service for use in his diocese.
There was a precedent, he said. In a reference to the diocese of Sydney’s 2012 service book, Common Prayer: Resources for gospel-shaped gatherings, he said that Sydney was using a marriage service not authorised by the General Synod.
The Wangaratta synod’s decision was taken after the recent resolution by the Australian Bishops that in effect bars Anglican clergy from any involvement with same-sex weddings (News, 11 May). The Bishops have also said that no church property should be used for them.