Church of England split over US plan to remove ‘husband and wife’ from marriage service

This included the following statement from a Church of England spokesperson:

“A spokesperson for the Church of England said: “The request was addressed to the Secretary General, as Provincial Secretary of the Church of England, who then consulted both Archbishops.

“It was concluded that as there was not time for full consultation of the House of Bishops – which meets only twice a year – a reply should be sent at staff level. 

“Church House staff therefore produced a reply, in consultation with the Archbishops and the Bishop of Coventry, the chairman of the Faith and Order Commission.”

Church of England split on proposal to drop ‘husband and wife’ from US congregation’s marriage services – The Christian Times, May 2nd 2018

Church of England is split over US plan to remove ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ from marriage service to make it more gay-friendly – Daily Mail, May 1st 2018

Bishop joins 300 Anglicans backing US Church’s plans for gender-neutral wedding service – Christian Today, April 30th 2018

Prominent Bishop And 300 Anglicans Support Gender-Neutral Weddings In US Episcopal Church – The Daily Caller, April 30th 2018

The original  press release (Sunday 29th April 2018) stated:


Over 300 members of the Church of England, including bishops, deans and over 30 Members of General Synod, have united to thank the Episcopal Church of the United States for “leading the way” on same-sex marriage.

The letter provides an alternative response from members of the Church of England to that given by the Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, following the Episcopal Church’s invitation to understand the impact of their provision of same-sex marriage rites on other provinces within the Anglican Communion.  With signatories from 40 out of 42 dioceses, it shows the high level of dissent across the country to that of the hard line stance taken by Nye in his response on behalf of the Church of England.

“Within just 48 hours I was flooded with requests to sign,” explains Jayne Ozanne, editor of the ViaMedia blog in which the letter first appeared. “We are unsure by whose authority the original letter from Nye was sent, given that it was not discussed by the Archbishops’ Council.  It would be strange if it were sent with the knowledge and support of the Archbishops given their firm commitment to “radical Christian inclusion” and their understanding of the need to be pastorally sensitive to the LGBT community, neither of which area mentioned in the letter.  What I find even more perplexing is that it does not reflect the level of dissent shown by recent decisions taken by the General Synod.”

The alternative letter looks to give voice to what research has shown is a majority view within the Church of England regarding attitudes towards same-sex marriage.  “The truth is that a growing number of church goers are very concerned about the impact of the Church of England’s current teaching on those of us within the LGBT community, as well as our ability to talk about a God who loves all,” said Erika Baker, a staunch LGBT supporter who was one of the first to request to sign the letter.

The new letter was originally written as part of a Via Media blog written by Jayne Ozanne entitled “Letters to America – Is the End Nye?” and was made available to communicant members of the Church of England to sign following requests on social media.


Notes to Editors

1.  The full text of the letter can be viewed online) is as follows:

2.  48 hours after setting up the website ( to enable communicant members of the Church of England to sign the letter there were 305 eligible signatures from 40 dioceses (all but Carlisle and Sodor & Man)

3.  Those who have signed the letter can be viewed here, and include the Bishop of Buckingham, Rt Revd Alan Wilson, and the former Bishop of Taunton, Rt Revd Peter Maurice. 30 serving General Synod members have also signed the letter.

4.  The letter first appeared on Friday 27th 2018 in a blog written by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of ViaMedia.News and entitled “Letters to America – Is the End Nye?”

5.  William Nye’s original letter can be viewed here.

6.  More background information is available on the Thinking Anglicans website.

7.  The research referred to is that of the 2016 YouGov survey on attitudes to same-sex marriage, which asked respondents to state their religious affiliation.