Canturbury Cathedral
Church of England Plans Blessings for Gay Couples

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com November 28 2013 2:17 PM ET

The Church of England will announce that it will offer public blessings to gay and lesbian couples, though it will still not perform official weddings for same-sex couples.

While the change is significant for the Church of England, the services will only allow priests to "mark the formation of permanent same-sex relationships," the Telegraph reports. The new doctrine, recommended by an investigative panel, comes with the message that the church must "repent" for its past attitudes toward LGBT people.

"You can make a church a cold place for gay and lesbian people ... or you can make it a more warm and accepting place," group chairman Joseph Pilling said at a press conference, according to Reuters. "No member of the clergy, or parish, would be required to offer such services and it could not extend to solemnizing same sex marriages without major changes to the law."

Some within the working group formed coalitions against extending blessing ceremonies to same-sex couples, many citing that it would create a divide among Anglican churches.