Llangollen’s ‘showbiz’ vicar has landed and appearance at an historic venue that has played host to the likes of US Presidents Reagan, Nixon, Carter, and Clinton, Sir Winston Churchill, Malcolm X, HH the Dalai Lama, Sir Elton John and Albert Einstein.
For Father Lee Taylor, priest-in-charge of St Collen’s and the founder and regular chairman of old time music hall group the Collen Players, has accepted an invitation to speak in a forthcoming debate at the Oxford Union.
Due to take place early next year,
the motion up for discussion will be: ‘This
House Supports Same-Sex Marriage in the Church’.
It’s a subject that Father Lee knows something about as just over a year ago he became the first priest in Wales to receive a formal authorised blessing of his same-sex partnership when he and his partner Fabiano were blessed by the Bishop of St Asaph during a special service in St Collen's.
Currently, Church of England ministers cannot carry out or bless same-sex marriages and LGBTQ+ members of the clergy are required to remain celibate.
Yet the Anglican Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the United Reformed Church, the Quakers in Britain and, most recently, the Methodist Church, have all embraced marriage equality.
Next February the General Synod of the Church of England could look at changing this position in order to permit same-sex marriage.
The question being asked by many is whether same-sex marriage ever be compatible with the Christian church, or will the Church continue to stick to its exclusionary conception of marriage.
This is the background to the Oxford Union debate in which Father Lee will be joining a broad range of prominent speakers.
The Oxford Union is the world's most prestigious debating society and was established in 1823 to uphold the principle of free speech.
In his letter of invitation to Father Lee, Charlie Mackintosh, president of New College, Oxford tells him: “Religion and matters of theological discussion were the reason students originally founded the Oxford Union.
“Since 1823 we have hosted dozens of seminally important debates on religion and three of our presidents have gone on to serve as Archbishop of Canterbury.
“As the Society turns 200, I am very keen to celebrate our history of debating religious matters and, as an Anglican, see the ongoing discussions surrounding same-sex marriage in the Church as the most important contemporary religious debate.”