Over many years, the Uniting Church in Australia nationally has been having conversations about homosexuality – initially in terms of church leadership, and more recently in relation to same-gender marriage. In July 2018 the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church considered a report and several proposals in relation to same-gender marriage. One of this Presbytery’s representatives has provided a description of the experience of the Assembly, including the process leading to its decision on same-gender marriage.
Basically the Assembly decision in July 2018 recognised two statements of belief that marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God to live together for life made by:
a man and a woman
two people (ie can be a same-gender couple).
The decision also affirms that Ministers and celebrants authorised by the Uniting Church in Australia may exercise freedom to decide whether the minister’s or celebrant’s religious beliefs allow the minister or celebrant to accept requests to celebrate marriages. This freedom cannot be restricted by any Council of the Church, including Church Councils.
Further, the decision noted that Church Councils have the authority under Regulation 4.4.1 to permit or refuse the use of any property held for the use of the Congregation for the celebration of marriages, as authorised under the Marriage Act and according to the rites of the Uniting Church in Australia.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19 NIV.
In August 2017 the National Assembly has reminded church members about discernment around the conversations on marriage.
Marriage Conversation Update, including history and further reading
News released since the 15th Assembly, including on this issue
Response to 2015 UCA Marriage Paper, Assembly of Confessing Congregations within the UCA
Redefinion of Marriage, Social Issues Committee, Anglican Diocese of Sydney
Why marriage should be between a man and a woman, Michael Kellahan
Being Christ's Body – a conversation series about same-sex relationships, marriage and the church, Canberra and Goulburn Anglican Community
Australian Student Christian Movement:
The Meaning of Marriage, Scott Higgins
If You’re LGBTQ, Here’s What One Pastor Really Hopes You Know, John Pavlovitz