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Dean of St Edmundsbury in Bury St Edmunds 'disappointed' at Church of England's refusal to conduct same-sex marriages





The Dean of St Edmundsbury in Bury St Edmunds has expressed his ‘disappointment’ at the recent decision within the Church of England not to conduct marriages for same-sex couples.

The Very Rev Joe Hawes, who has been with his partner Chris for 35 years, has said that the recommendation by the House of Bishops to bless same-sex couples has not gone far enough.

The recent decision comes at the end of a six-year process of listening and discernment on questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage within the community known as Living in Love and Faith.

Dean of St Edmundsbury, Joe Hawes, says the recent services commended by the House of Bishops has not gone far enough. Picture: Tamika Green
Dean of St Edmundsbury, Joe Hawes, says the recent services commended by the House of Bishops has not gone far enough. Picture: Tamika Green

The Dean said: “I’m massively disappointed we haven’t made more progress, but I have sympathy for the bishops because they were between a rock and a hard place. They couldn’t bring about massive change because they knew they didn’t have the votes in general Synod, the church parliament, to get massive change through.

“I think the church has got a deep and ancient reservoir of wisdom about faithfulness in relationships – it’s called marriage.

“I just want marriage extended to people like me.

Dean Joe is calling on the church community to continue to listen and learn from one another. Picture: Mark Westley
Dean Joe is calling on the church community to continue to listen and learn from one another. Picture: Mark Westley

“Marriage is a good thing, I believe in marriage. It’s joyful, it’s challenging, and hard but there’s something really great about marriage.

“I want to extend that to LGBTQ+ people.”

The dean explained that currently the church is divided, with some clergy and members of the church community believing that the recent proposals have not gone far enough and some believing it has already gone too far.

“People like me wanted massive change,” he added.

“We wanted equal marriage for LGBTQ+ people in church. We wanted the removal of all the prohibitions that people like me and people who want to be ordained have suffered under.”

Now the church will undergo a two-year process to see how these services are received and if they are being used after the General Synod meeting in London in February. The church will then ask the House of Bishops to report back its findings from this process.

In the coming weeks and months, the dean is calling for members of the church community to continue to communicate with each other.

“Keep talking to each other, keep listening to each other, keep trying to find a way through in the midst of our disagreements,” he said.

“We’re going to repent all the ways in which the church has excluded LGBTQ+ people and we’re going to continue to strive for change.”