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Gay couple receive landmark Church in Wales blessing

Gay couple receive landmark Church in Wales blessing

Fabiano Da Silva Duarte, left, and Father Lee Taylor were blessed by the Bishop of St Asaph: PHOTO

By Harry Farley
BBC News
November 13, 2021

"This is a landmark and a really big step - a time to rejoice," said Father Lee Taylor.

Father Lee and his partner Fabiano Da Silva Duarte have become what is thought to be the first same-sex couple to be officially blessed by the Church in Wales.

It comes after the Church's governing body approved a new service of blessing for same-sex couples in September.

However it stopped short of allowing gay couples to marry in its parishes.

The move has put the Church in Wales at odds with its sister Anglican church, the Church of England, which forbids clergy from blessing gay couples.

Father Lee said the service, at St Collen's Church, in Llangollen, Denbighshire, was "extremely special".

"Our civil partnership took place at our local registry office in London in 2008. Although this was an important step for us it didn't really feel like an occasion for great celebration back then," he said.

"The ceremony was short and no religious content was permitted. It didn't feel like a solemn and sacred moment.

"So this [blessing] is a really big step. It's an opportunity to celebrate our love and union in the presence of God. It is exciting - a time to rejoice."

Father Lee said the ceremony had the "look and smell" of a traditional wedding.

He added: "We both have a deep faith and love of God and the church has always played an important part in our lives.

"We are very excited to have made this next step in our journey together."

With a choir, bell ringers and family and friends attending, Father Lee said the ceremony had the "look and smell" of a traditional wedding.

"It has been a very moving and meaningful service for us. It had all the bells and whistles but without the actual marriage part," added Father Lee.

The Bishop of St Asaph said it was an "honour" to lead the blessing.

However he admitted there were mixed emotions given same-sex marriages are still not permitted by the Church in Wales.

The Church in Wales' governing body voted in September to allow same-sex couples to have their civil partnership or marriage blessed in church.

A blessing signifies, in theological terms, God's approval. It marks a significant shift from the historical church teaching that homosexual relationships are sinful.

However, the Evangelical Fellowship opposed the move, saying at the time it did not uphold the "standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman".

"It feels like we are only half way there. I would like to see the Church in Wales move forward now with same-sex marriages in church," said Father Lee.

"I believe that making a covenant with our spouse in marriage is a reflection of God's own covenant with us through Jesus."

The Bishop of St Asaph, the Right Revered Gregory Cameron, led the service at St Collen's Church, Llangollen, where Father Taylor is priest-in-charge.

He said it was "a great honour and privilege" to lead the first blessing for a gay couple that the Church was aware of.

Clergy have a "conscience clause" which means they can opt out of offering the blessing if they disagree.

The Scottish Episcopal Church became the first Anglican church in the UK to allow same-sex marriages in 2017.

Other Christian denominations in the UK that permit same-sex marriages include the Quakers in Britain, the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, and the United Reformed Church.

VOL FOOTNOTE: The Bishop of Asaph, the Rt. Rev Gregory Cameron, is the former Deputy Secretary of the Anglican Consultative Council. He is a personal friend of Dr. Rowan Williams. He was Rowan's Chaplain when Rowan was AB Wales (1999-2002) and came with him to Lambeth. He is liberal as the day is long. He is why GAFCON exists with its own instruments of unity.

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