A handful of Scottish Episcopal Church clergy have signed up to preside over gay marriages just weeks before the first ceremonies are due to take place.

The Scottish Episcopalians are expected to become the first major UK church within the wider global Anglican community – to conduct the ceremonies.

However, it has emerged that just nine priests out of around 350 listed with the Registrar General are currently able to do so.

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The change allowing same sex marriage in the Church was enshrined last week.

HeraldScotland:

The mechanism began after six of the seven diocesan synods of the Scottish Episcopal Church voted in March for a proposal to amend canon law to allow clerics to conduct marriages for same sex couples in church.

Clergy who are happy to preside over same sex marriages will be able to nominate themselves, while those who do not wish to officiate at such ceremonies within the Scottish Episcopal Church will not be compelled to conduct ceremonies.

A spokesman for the Edinburgh-based church said: “Since the approval by our General Synod in June of alterations to the Church’s canons to allow couples of the same sex to be married in church, our Bishops have been conducting pastoral conversations with clergy about being nominated to the Registrar General for Scotland.

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“Only clergy who are nominated to and registered by the Registrar General will have authority to solemnise such marriages and for those who wish to be nominated there is a need for local pastoral discussion before a nomination is put forward.

“We expect such conversations to continue over the summer and already a small number of clergy have been registered and some are in discussion with couples to arrange weddings in the coming months.”

St Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow became the first Anglican cathedral in the country to offer weddings for same sex couples, just weeks after the ground-breaking decision in June at the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod.

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The clergy of the cathedral are among those to have been given permission by the Bishop of Glasgow and Galloway to conduct such services following a unanimous vote to go ahead by the cathedral’s vestry, its board of trustees.

It is expected that people will come from other parts of the UK to be married in Scotland as a result of the decision by the Church.

The Provost of the Cathedral, the Very Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, below, said earlier: “We already have one booking from a couple coming up from England who can’t get married in their local Church of England parish.

HeraldScotland: Kelvin Holdsworth

“We are glad to be able to welcome them and expect there will be many others who will follow them.”

There is expected to be a backlash from some Anglicans with the move leaving the Church at odds with the Church of England and many of the provinces and churches around the world that make up the Anglican Communion around the world.

Same sex marriage became law in 2014 in Scotland.

There are a further 249 people registered in Scotland to act as celebrants in same sex marriages.

This includes 114 from the Humanist Society Scotland – now a prescribed body – 32 from the Synod of Scotland of the United Reformed Church and 16 from the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary.