The United Reformed Church (URC) has become the latest denomination to allow same-sex couples to marry in its buildings. During a meeting in Merseyside, the URC’s ruling general assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing gay marriage, although individual churches will not be forced to comply.
According to a report from the BBC, this vote means the URC has become the largest Christian organisation in Britain to offer same-sex weddings in its churches.
The assembly, meeting in Southport, voted to allow individual congregations to register churches as venues for same-sex marriage services, immediately if they wish. Reports claim the first weddings in URC churches under the new powers will be able to take place from the autumn.
Quoted by the BBC, Rev. John Proctor, general secretary of the URC, said, ‘The URC has made an important decision, at which some will rejoice and with which others will be uncomfortable’.
He added, ‘This has been a sensitive issue for many in our churches. It has been important to take our time over the decision process, and to listen as carefully as we can to one another along the way’.
Quakers, Unitarians, and some small denominations have already performed same-sex marriage ceremonies. It is understood the Scottish Episcopal Church’s general synod will soon vote for a final time on allowing same-sex couples to marry in churches, after a large majority voted in favour earlier this year.
Already many churches have allowed gay clergy, while the founder of the Oasis Trust and Faithworks, Rev. Steve Chalke MBE, has said he will conduct gay weddings. Mr Chalke has already been carrying out gay blessings in his church, Oasis Church, Waterloo, London, since 2013, telling Christianity magazine back in 2013, ‘The church should consider nurturing positive models for permanent and monogamous homosexual relationships’.
The legislation to allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales was passed by parliament in July 2013 and came into force on 13 March 2014. The first same-sex marriages took place on 29 March 2014. At his resignation speech, former Prime Minister David Cameron asked the people in the UK to remember him for bringing in gay marriage.