The Church of England has voted in favour of a motion to offer blessings to same sex-couples in civil partnerships and marriages. The General Synod on Thursday voted by 250 to 181 votes to approve the offering of blessings, allowing clergy members the option to confer blessings on a civil marriage or partnership.
The decision marks a profound shift in the church's stance on same-sex relationships, though it does not change its position on gay marriage. Congregants wept and hugged each other as the vote was passed, with many expressing joy at the news.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Malcolm Brown, director of mission and public affairs for the Church of England, said: “This is an important moment for us as a church and I am pleased that we have been able to reach this point together." He added that it was "a significant step forward in affirming the value of committed, same-sex relationships".
The motion will now be sent back down to dioceses for further discussion before being brought back up for final approval at next year’s synod meeting. If approved then, it would become part of official church policy.