Next steps on the marriage of same-sex couples

At the start of the business session five, the URC’s general secretary, provided five points of information following on from yesterday’s vote on the marriage of same-sex couples.

  • Guidance for churches in English and Wales wishing to register their buildings for the marriage of same-sex couples is available on the URC website
  • Guidance for churches and ministers in Scotland will be available from the Synod of Scotland’s office
  • Mr Proctor reminded Assembly that the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands have separate legal systems from Scotland, England and Wales and, although their legislation on this matter may be broadly similar to the English and Welsh legislation, he suggested that Assembly might be content to enable Mission Council to handle the legislative responses without needing to revert to General Assembly
  • He also suggested that Mission Council consider the ways in which URC ministers could conduct marriages on unregistered premises (such as domestic homes, hospitals and hospices) in extreme circumstances.
  • And finally, he explained that URC ministers who do not wish to conduct the weddings of same-sex couples, from either theological or pastoral convictions, may nonetheless not prevent local churches from registering their buildings; that is a matter for Church Meeting. But if the building were registered, the minister would not be obliged to officiate: local churches cannot, and the denomination will not, compel ministers to conduct same-sex marriages against their conscience; a neighbouring minister could be asked by the local church to take the service.