A gay Christian has said the Church of England’s special services of blessing “is nowhere near what is needed”.

The Christian church recently announced for the first time gay couples would be able to have blessings in their parishes. The services, while not formal weddings, would still include the wearing of rings, prayers and a blessing from the priest.

Despite this, Gail Yorke, from Warrington - who is set to marry fiancée, Tina Rose, next July at St. Johns United Reformed Church - said discrimination still exists within the religion.

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The 53-year-old, who is a church elder herself, told the ECHO: “I do think it is positive the Church of England is engaging in discussion about same-sex marriage. However, the book of prayers and blessings is nowhere near what is needed. The proposed blessings and prayers, when you look at the wording, are about blessing the individual people, and not the relationship.

“On the one hand, the Church of England publicly apologised for the pain and hurt they have caused to the LGBTQIA+ community, but they go on and cause further hurt by not acknowledging or accepting and affirming same-sex marriages as a legitimate unity of marriage.

“In my eyes, this is still clear oppression and discrimination against LGBTQ+ marriages. In not allowing marriages and only blessing people, not the relationship, the Church of England is yet again rejecting the people in these relationships.”

The Church of England’s official teaching is marriage to be between one man and one woman and only this. When same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales in 2013, the church did not change its teaching.

Gail Yorke believed she couldn't have both her faith and her sexuality for a long time
Gail Yorke believed she couldn't have both her faith and her sexuality for a long time

Gail, a mum-of-one, said: “I am blessed to be able to marry in my church. However, I am painfully aware that many others are not in this position and this is something I feel passionately about. Getting married in church should be accessible to all. Churches around the country have couples in committed, loving, same-sex relationships who cannot marry before God as their church will not allow it.”

The services for blessing for same-sex couples were narrowly agreed by the General Synod of the Church of England (the church’s parliament) by one vote.

Initially, the plans weren’t to be debated until 2025, but as a result of an amendment by Stephen Croft, bishop of Oxford, gay couples won’t have to wait till then. It is thought the blessings - which are being rolled out on a test basis - are to be approved in the coming weeks with the potential of the first services happening in the new year.

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