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Camden vicars defy Bishops to offer their congratulations to gay newlyweds

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:33 28 March 2014

Camden Anglican priests who are supporting gay marriage (from left)  Rev David Rushton, Rev Marjorie Brown, Rev Andrew Cain, Rev Clair Wilson and Rev Paul Nicholson. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Camden Anglican priests who are supporting gay marriage (from left) Rev David Rushton, Rev Marjorie Brown, Rev Andrew Cain, Rev Clair Wilson and Rev Paul Nicholson. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Vicars across Camden have defied edicts sent down by the Church of England and united to offer their “congratulations” and “best wishes” to gay couples getting married across the borough this weekend.

Tonight the country’s first ever same-sex marriage ceremonies take place after Parliament approved a change in the law last year.

The new legal rights caused controversy among some Bishops and led to an amendment being passed excluding the Church of England from the laws.

Edicts recently sent down by Bishops in the House of Lords reaffirmed the church’s official stance that marriage could only be a “lifelong union between one man and one woman”.

But 16 reverends of parishes in the borough have dismissed the bishops’ statements and signed a letter of support for same-sex newlyweds.

The letter reads: “As members of the clergy of the Church of England in Camden we want to offer our congratulations to same-sex couples and their families and friends and our very best wishes to them for many happy years of married life together.”

It continues: “Marriage is a way of life that is holy and is a sign of unity and fidelity which all should uphold and honour.”

Vicars from St Mary’s Church in Elsworthy Road, Primrose Hill, Emmanuel Church in Lyncroft Gardens, West Hampstead, and Holy Cross Church in Cromer Street, King’s Cross, have all signed the open letter, although their stance does not necessarily represent the views of everyone in these churches.

Father Andrew Cain, the vicar for St James’, in Sheriff Road, West Hampstead, and St Mary’s with All Souls, Kilburn, is one of those who has signed the letter.

He has seen his own future in the clergy thrown into doubt after vowing to marry his own partner this summer.

He is confident he has his congregation’s support.

“The church is enormously divided by this and some bishops have been telling us they’re uncomfortable with the publicity those clergy members in favour of gay marriage are getting,” said Father Andrew.

“But within my congregation we’ve received a lot of support. I think it shows the world has changed and that people now support same-sex marriages.

“Our message to all those getting married this weekend is firstly, congratulations, and secondly, if you would like the church to pray for you, get in touch with one of us.”

The Rev Marjorie Brown, of St Mary’s Church in Primrose Hill, suggested the change had parallels to the struggles women faced in being accepted by the church.

“It’s always been hard for the church to accept change but when it happens people are quite quickly left wondering what the fuss was all about,” she said.

“I understand the cautious stance of some in the church but society has moved on and we need to be inconclusive.

“I’ve already had some members of my congregation leaving because they say they can’t bear to be part of an institution that discriminates.”

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