Cape Town’s Archbishop Thabo Makgoba

The Anglican Church in Southern Africa has moved a small step closer to eventually recognising same sex couples in “faithful, committed relationships”.

On the weekend, a Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town passed a watered down resolution that asks its bishops to provide “pastoral guidelines” for gay people living in “covenanted partnerships”.

The Diocese represents Anglicans in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Namibia, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Angola.

The resolution also “notes the positive statements of previous Provincial Synods that gay and lesbian members of our church share in full membership as baptized members of the Body of Christ, and are affirmed and welcomed as such.”

The original resolution was changed after some members of the synod expressed their concern that it could be seen as approving of blessings of same-sex relationships, something which the Rev. Dr James Harris said would, “bring us into conflict with the wider Anglican Communion”.

South Africa’s Archbishop Thabo Makgoba described the resolution “an important first step”.

He added, “I don’t believe in big bangs. If you throw a little pebble into water, it sends out concentric circles and hopefully that way change comes from that”.

The resolution was proposed by St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. The Rev. Terry Lester, sub dean of the Cathedral, said the parish had come to be seen as “a safe space, a sort of liberated space” for gay and lesbian Christians in Cape Town. He said the cathedral needed guidelines for its pastoral care to gay and lesbian members in “faithful, committed” same-sex partnerships.

The global Anglican Church is facing a schism within its ranks over recognising same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay clergy, with most opposition towards the liberalisation of the church coming from African bishops.

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