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Reform calls on Church leaders publicly to back marriage

Church of England clergy need to take "urgent and significant steps" publicly to speak out in support of marriage as being between one man and one woman, said Reform chairman Rev'd Rod Thomas at the network's annual conference this week.

Mr Thomas encouraged church leaders to do "everything within their power" to oppose Government attempts to "redefine marriage" to include relationships between homosexuals. "This is a generation-defining moment," he said. "When the history books are written we will want to be known as those who spoke up publicly for Jesus's teaching on marriage and against any Government attempts to redefine this God-given institution."

"Our churches, our communities and especially our children need us to provide both clarity and compassion in this age of confusion surrounding sexual identity and relationships."

Mr Thomas praised Roman Catholic bishops who have spoken so clearly in support of marriage, and encouraged their Anglican counterparts to be as bold: "Many of our bishops support the Bible's teaching on marriage. Well now we want to hear them say so publicly, loud and clear."

Acknowledging that Reform's own clergy may not have always publicly promoted marriage as clearly as they should, Mr Thomas urged the network's 1,600-strong membership to act now in advance of the Government's consultation on homosexual marriage in March 2012.

He outlined a five point action plan that Reform will be engaged in during the coming months:

1. Reform will provide a briefing paper explaining the Bible's teaching on marriage as being between one man and one woman, and why redefining marriage to be between homosexuals would be disastrous

2. Reform clergy to preach publicly on the Biblical view of marriage

3. Reform members on General Synod to put forward a Private Members Motion calling on diocesean bishops to commence diocese-wide discussions on this issue

4. Reform clergy to discuss this matter with their church councils, and encourage them and their church members to communicate their concerns to their bishops and local MPs, and to encourage other clergy in the Church of England to do the same, in order to demonstrate the widespread grass-roots opposition to redefining marriage

5. Reform churches to provide financial support to one of the Christian public affairs groups engaged in this debate

Reform members were encouraged to receive support for their position in a message to the conference from Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Anglican Primate of Kenya,who said: "I thank God for the witness of Reform. It grieves us deeply to observe many Anglican churches in the west yielding to secular pressure to allow unacceptable practices in the name of human rights and equality."

21th Oct 2011
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