Yesterday we reported that the Irish Legal Times had announced that the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) was on track to become the first UK church to allow same gender marriages. This isn’t true however, as the Unitarians, the Quakers and the Metropolitan Community Churches in the UK already allow marriage equality, although they are all smaller bodies than the SEC.
We also surmised, that should the legislation pass in the SEC General Synod next month, that the SEC would be on track to become the largest UK church to allow marriage equality. However, KaleidoScot also reported yesterday that the Irish Legal Times was in error in its claim. The United Reformed Church (URC), with congregations in England, Scotland and Wales, and which is larger than the Church of Scotland & the SEC combined, is set to allow same gender marriage as soon as this summer. The URC has approximately 68,000 members in 1,500 congregations with some 700 ministers and is the result of the union of a number of predecessor churches starting in 1972.
The SEC would be taking the first step of what is referred to as a twice round process. The proposal would need to pass this summer’s General Synod by a simple majority of the three houses of synod; bishops, clergy & laity. It would then have a year for comment by the diocesan synods of the SEC. The matter then would return for a 2nd reading at 2017’s General Synod and must pass by a 2/3s majority in all three houses.
Whereas, the matter before the URC, which also has a twice round process, is being brought to its 2nd reading before the URC’s General Assembly in 7 weeks and requires a 2/3s majority from the Assembly. Should it receive the required majority, the URC would then become the largest church or religious body in the Uk to embrace marriage equality for same gender couples.
Andrew Page, the KaleidoScot reporter of the story, seemed confused at times whether he should scold the Irish Legal Times or praise the efforts of all the UK religious organizations taking up the matter of marriage equality. He did end on a high note;
The bigger picture is one of various Christian denominations at different stages in their decision making processes. Of course, those listed above have made more progress than most – but they don’t tell the full story. From Open Table groups in the Church of England, to the work of Affirmation Scotland within the Church of Scotland, to the Liberal Jews and the Muslim Safra Project, people of faith are making the case for same-sex marriage and often supporting LGBTI religious people in difficult situations. These people are proving instrumental in changing attitudes and shaping understandings.
The main image is from news.stv.tv.