As theological debates on sexuality and marriage become more and more central, many Christian denominations are being asked to clarify their views.
The motion was passed by one vote. General Secretary admits: “We have a long road ahead to restore our common life”. The new policy cannot come into effect before 2020.
BY ONE VOTE
In order for the resolution to pass, it requires two-thirds support from each of three orders: the lay, clergy and bishops.
It had been reported, on Monday, that the vote had been lost by just one vote in the House of Clergy.
However, on Tuesday, some members stood up to say their ballot had not been recorded accurately. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the primate of the church, demanded the "confusion" be cleared up.
The recount revealed that the vote in favour by synod General Secretary Michael Thompson had been counted for the House of Laity instead of the House of Clergy. With it counted, the vote became 52 of 78 in favour, meeting the two-thirds majority threshold required to pass the motion, so that the resolution then passed by one vote.
Thompson then released a statement and a You Tube video explaining the mistake:
“Today we discovered that the electronic voting system we were using miscoded my electronic file. I was listed, and my vote was counted, as a lay person instead of a priest. This one vote changed the outcome of resolution A051-R2—the resolution to amend the marriage canon.”
The General Secretary admitted in the statement that “this vote has been difficult for many, and no outcome can address all of our church’s need to live and work together. We have a long road ahead to restore our common life.”
THREE YEARS UNTIL THE FINAL DECISION
As a matter of doctrine, the motion requires a vote at two consecutive meetings of General Synod in order to be passed. It will receive its second reading in 2019, and cannot come into effect before 2020.
Three years ago, the Synod carried a resolution requesting the drafting of a motion to change the canon to allow same-sex marriage, including a clause ensuring that “no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorise such marriages against the dictates of their conscience”.
The motion brought this week was amended to replace the original conscience clause with an opt-in: “same-sex marriages could take place only if authorised by the diocesan bishop.”
WELBY CONVERSATIONS ABOUT SEXUALITY
The conversations, which took place during the last two years, came to a conclusion at the General Synod meeting in York, with small groups meeting in private and synod members urged to stay off social media.
"It is our hope that what has been learned through the relationships developed will inform the way the church conducts, whatever further formal discussions may be necessary in the future. It is our prayer that the manner in which we express our different views and deep disagreements will bear witness to Jesus who calls us to love as he has loved us", the Church of England said in a statement.