Supporting both ‘I Do’ and ‘I Don’t’: Uniting Church will allow same-sex weddings

The Uniting Church has announced it will support a diversity of views of same sex marriage, allowing ministers to decide for themselves if they wish to conduct ceremonies.

The church said both views on marriage between same sex couples were equal and it recognised both sides of the discussion.

Meeting for the first time since last year’s change to Australian marriage laws, members of the Church’s national decision-making body, the Assembly, have resolved to allow its ministers the freedom to conduct or refuse to conduct same-gender marriages.

Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer (pictured) said the decision was one that had been given great consideration.

“This decision follows many years of reflection, prayer and discernment, and I want to thank Assembly members for the way they have responded with grace to what is a difficult conversation for many people of faith,” Dr Palmer said.

Dr Palmer acknowledged the ministry and struggle of LGBTIQ people in the Uniting Church over many years.

“I know that this conversation is painful and difficult for you,” said Dr Palmer, directly addressing LGBTIQ Church members.

“We also acknowledge those who for whatever reason have not been able to support this change – and your pain and difficulty in this space.”

“Please rest assured that your rights to follow your beliefs on marriage will be respected and protected.”

“I thank you all for modelling a loving Christian community, holding together and caring for each other, across our diversity of strongly and faithfully held views.”

Members of the Uniting Church’s 15th triennial Assembly have been considering the change to the marriage policy and other issues since Sunday 7 July at Melbourne’s Box Hill Town Hall. The triennial meeting involves 265 representatives from the organisation.

The issue was debated several times over the seven day conference with members often moving into closed sessions to debate the merits of allowing same-sex couples to wed within the church. The final vote to support the new policy has been described as “overwhelmingly in favour” of change.

During the meeting, they heard advice from theological and legal experts and had the opportunity to speak to proposals for and against the changes.

The proposal that was adopted on Marriage and same-gender relationships seeks to accommodate a range of views by adopting an additional statement of belief.

The existing statement of belief is that marriage is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live together for life.

The new additional statement of belief says that, “For Christians, marriage is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life.”

The Church said the proposal also acknowledges the diversity of religious beliefs and ethical understandings within the Church, and that they have been “developed through continuing faithful discernment and held with integrity on matters relating to sexuality and marriage.”

The proposal determined that the Church is able to accept this diversity within its life and make the decisions necessary to enable its ministry and members to act with integrity in accordance with their beliefs.

OIP Staff


 

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