Welsh evangelicals ask for clarity after vote on same-sex blessings

(Photo: Unsplash/Maico Pereira)

Evangelicals in the Church in Wales are calling for the appointment of a bishop to "give voice" to those who believe in the traditional Christian teaching on marriage and sexual morality.

The Evangelical Fellowship in the Church in Wales (EFCW) has been consulting its members after the governing body of the Anglican Church in Wales voted on 6 September to allow services of blessing for same-sex couples.

In a statement issued today, EFCW said: "The Bench of Bishops currently speaks with one mind on this issue.

"However, it is clear from the breakdown of the vote at Governing Body that the Bench of Bishops no longer properly represents the convictions of the wider membership of the Church in Wales.

"We are grateful to the bishops for their intention that they have signalled, that a place will remain in the Church for those who hold to a traditional view.

"We ask them, therefore, to demonstrate this intention by appointing to the See of Swansea and Brecon a bishop who represents the teaching of the majority of the Anglican Communion on sexuality."

EFCW also called for "clarity" on the operation of the "conscience clause" allowing traditionalist clergy to opt out of taking same-sex blessing services.

"It is apparent that this clause is already being interpreted differently by different bishops, with some clergy being told that dissenting clergy will not have to surrender their church buildings for a blessing service," the statement continued.

"Other bishops believe they can exercise their prerogative to insist that a same-sex blessing service take place in any building in their diocese, regardless of the conscience of the local cleric.

"This needs clarity and consistency across the province," it said.

EFCW said it was grateful for the offers of practical help Welsh evangelicals have received from across the Anglican Communion and "from other quarters of the global Church".

"We are taking these very seriously as we seek to discern the best way to serve Christ faithfully in the nation of Wales. The decision of the Governing Body is deeply distressing to a significant number of Welsh Anglicans who now face tough decisions as to where their future spiritual home lies.

"There have been and will be resignations from clergy, lay readers, worship leaders, church wardens, Sunday school teachers and parishioners.

"A number have withdrawn their regular giving to their churches," the statement reported.

EFCW also called on the bishops to assure Church in Wales members that they "will neither introduce nor support a proposal for bringing forward a Bill for introducing same-sex marriage within the five-year trial period of the experimental rite to bless a civil partnership or civil marriage".

Christian Today has contacted the Church in Wales for comment.