10 Jul Our Church talks marriage
The Uniting Church National Assembly will meet this week to consider a number of key issues that impact the life of the Church, including family violence, climate change and the issue of how the Uniting Church will respond to the recent change to Australian law allowing same-gender couples to marry.
How the Church moves forward regarding same-gender marriage is of interest to us at Uniting as we continue to advocate for, and with, our LGBTI clients and employees.
We’re hopeful for a positive outcome at the National Assembly, but regardless of what happens, we’ll continue to welcome everyone exactly as they are to our Uniting services. We’re proud to be the leading not-for-profit provider in Australia for LGBTI inclusion and will continue to advocate for LGBTI people, including ensuring our LGBTI clients receive the best personalised care. As an organisation, we celebrate diversity and welcome all people regardless of ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, intersex variation or gender identity.
In the lead up to the national assembly, we’ve put together a brief Q&A to help you understand more about the upcoming decision-making process.
What is Uniting’s relationship to the Uniting Church?
Uniting is the largest provider of social services in NSW and ACT and delivers community and advocacy services on behalf of The Uniting Church, Synod of NSW and the ACT.
How does the decision-making process work?
The Uniting Church is an inclusive organisation that welcomes LGBTI people as full participating members of the church – including as members of church clergy – and that won’t change. The Uniting Church in Australia is one of very few Christian denominations that accept and support the ministry of people in same-sex relationships (allowing for the ordination of LGBTI ministers from 2003), and from 2011 – well before same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia – ministers of the Uniting Church were permitted to provide blessing services for same-gender couples entering into civil unions.
Within the Uniting Church in Australia, there is still a range of views when it comes to same-gender marriage, and the issue that’s being considered at next week’s meeting is whether there will be a change to Church policy allowing Uniting Church ministers who marry same-gender couples to perform these marriages under the official banner of the Uniting Church.
At the National Assembly meeting, 265 members of the Assembly will enter into respectful and loving conversation, acknowledging that people have a diversity of views that they come to from a range of different religious, cultural or personal perspectives.
If the members of the Assembly reach agreement on a change of Church policy, the Uniting Church in Australia will become Australia’s first mainstream Christian church to allow its authorised marriage celebrants to perform same-gender marriages according to their conscience.
Importantly, if the Uniting Church does allow ministers to perform same-gender marriages under the banner of the church, individual authorised celebrants’ freedom of conscience will be protected.
What does this mean for Uniting?
As the community services and advocacy arm of the Uniting Church in NSW and ACT, our day-to-day operations won’t change because of this decision. We will continue to be a strong voice for LGBTI inclusion.
When will the outcome be announced?
The Uniting Church National Assembly will meet for five days, from Sunday 8 to Saturday 14 July, and we expect that an announcement of the church’s position on the issue on same-gender marriage will be made soon after.
We’ll keep you posted on the outcome of the National Assembly conversation.