Scottish Episcopal Church to vote on gay marriage in church

Women exchanging wedding ringsImage copyright jeangill

The Scottish Episcopal Church will hold a historic vote later on whether to allow gay couples to marry in church.

If the vote is passed, it will become the first mainstream Christian organisation in the UK to allow same-sex marriage.

However, it will also leave the Church at odds with most of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The motion to change canon law on marriage will be debated at the Church’s General Synod in Edinburgh.

The proposal would remove the doctrinal clause stating that marriage is between a man and a woman.

It will only be accepted if it receives the backing of at least two thirds of each house of Bishops, Clergy and Laity.

‘Humility and generosity’

At last year’s Synod, members of the Church agreed to send the issue for discussion to its seven dioceses.

Six of them voted in favour of amending the law. Only Aberdeen and Orkney voted against the proposal.

The head of the Episcopal Church has previously said that clergy opposed to same-sex marriage would be able to opt out under a “conscience clause”.

Speaking ahead of the General Synod, the Most Rev David Chillingworth said: “The Scottish Episcopal Church, in common with all other churches, expresses a diversity of views on this question.

“Those views are held with integrity. Our church will seek to reach a decision on the canonical question while sustaining its unity in Christ.

“To do so will require both humility and generosity on all sides.”

Same sex marriage became legal in Scotland at the end of 2014 but the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church opposed the move.

Image copyright Esme Allen
Image caption The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, has said that clergy should be able to opt out

The issue has provoked passionate debate within the Anglican Communion.

In January last year, the Communion sanctioned the US Episcopal Church when it decided to allow gay marriage in church.

However, last month the Church of Scotland voted to approve a report which could allow ministers to conduct same-sex weddings in the future.

And in February, a report opposing gay marriage was opposed by the Church of England’s Synod.

Analysis by BBC Scotland correspondent John McManus

All but one of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s dioceses has already voted in favour of amending church law, to open marriage to couples of the same sex.

Yet this final vote is likely to rouse fierce emotions.

Not only because it may challenge traditional understandings of marriage, but also because if the change is passed, it could result in a backlash by the rest of the 80-million strong global Anglican Communion.

View the original article:

Supporters hope that if their arguments hold, gay couples will be walking down the aisles of some Scottish churches within the year.

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