The Open Episcopal Church

A member of the International Council of Community Churches & the World Council of Churches


Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland says that gay marriage is an aberration and will lead Britain into further immorality and shame.

The Archbishop of Westminster’s and Southwark have issued a letter to be read across the country at Mass this weekend decrying gay marriage.

The Church of England remains opposed to allowing homosexuals to marry.

In stark contrast, the Presiding Archbishop’s Council of the Open Episcopal Church, a member of the International Council of Community Churches and through that body the World Council of Churches, and representing over 25,000 worshippers across the United Kingdom, has issued this pastoral letter to be read this weekend.

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The scripture ( I John 4.16 ) states that God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them.

The Open Episcopal Church promotes an inclusive vision of marriage.

Good relationships lie at the heart of stable society.

The most intimate expression of relationship is between two people who pledge themselves to each other to share their life and sexuality. Many choose to express this by marriage.

The integration of their lives at every level represents the union of love.

The journey towards that beneficial union is one fraught with challenge. Both partners need to mature in knowledge, grace and discipline to be able to approach or reach its heart.

There is no natural assumption that requires a specified difference between the partners based on gender, sexuality, race, religion, background, nationality etc.

There is clear evidence that such categories are imprecise.

For instance there are a spectrum of male and female psychological and physiological characteristics. Each person bears his or her own unique mix and marriage allows exploration beyond the basic categories and generalisations into the intricacy of personality.

Reserving the state of marriage to be the preserve of only two groups, male and female, is the application of apartheid.

The argument that procreation is the natural indicator of who can marry is flawed. Marriage is a human construct unrelated originally to procreation.

The multitudinous species of the world evolved and humans reproduced for tens of thousands of years without marriage.

Marriage law was developed to regulate the process of the exchange of property, part of which was seen to be the woman involved. It has undergone continual reform in response to the insights of each generation. It must in our own day.

In our society we strive to protect everyone’s human rights through equality and anti discrimination laws.

There is no one stereotypical family unit. Heterosexual and homosexual couples share their lives and sexuality, and they produce and raise children.

Galileo was tried by the inquisition, charged with heresy and in 1633 placed under house arrest by the Roman Catholic Church for stating what is known to be true, that the earth revolves around the sun. It was not until 1992 that Pope John Paul apologised for the way he was treated.

The Bible, quoted selectively in support of homophobic views, promotes behaviour and opinions, which the modern world would find intolerable, such as sex with slaves, concubines, genocide, infanticide and rape.

It should be noted also that the parents of Jesus were not married when he was born.

It is regrettable that the church is often seen to be a reactionary institution, resistant to the knowledge that invites progress and builds a just and harmonious society.

The Open Episcopal Church seeks to represent that which is best in a modern expression of church, offering its spirituality and its service to all the people of the world inclusively.

Since 2001, it has pioneered the provision of sacramental marriage ceremonies in this country for gay couples and has baptised their children.

It supports marriage being equally available for heterosexuals and homosexuals.

Archbishop Jonathan Blake

Also signed by:

Bishop Stewart Harrison – Bournemouth

Bishop Shelley Harstad-Smith – Mountain Ash

Bishop Sheila Wharmby - Southampton

Bishop Elect Helen Hamilton – Isle of Luing

Ms Pam Baker – Isle of Luing

Revd Lesley Dennis - Newcastle

Mrs Trish Dennis – Newcastle

Revd David Earl - Romsey

Mr Daniel Gibbins – Swaffham

Revd Peter Goodwin – Poole

Revd Tim Hodge – Taunton

Revd John Hyde – Poole

Revd Kersten Lawrence - Parkstone

Revd Simon Mapp – Tamworth

Revd Christopher Morgan – Cockley Cley

Mrs Natasha Morgan – Cockley Cley

Revd Suzanna Taylor-Neill – Lichfield

Mrs Zoe Taylor-Neill – Lichfield

Revd Mark Townsend - Leominster


Archbishop Jonathan Blake

Bishops Haven

105 Danson Crescent

Welling DA16 2AS


0208 304 7605


07767 687711