Please find attached a pastoral letter from the President of the Uniting Church Dr Deidre Palmer concerning the decision about marriage and same-gender marriage made at the Assembly meeting that concluded on Saturday.
I encourage you to read the letter and to share it with your congregation, faith community or organisation.
There will be further information and resources in the coming days and weeks, including advice to authorised marriage celebrants about the next steps.
I want to remind all of you that only those authorised by the President or Assembly General Secretary can speak to the media in regard to these matters.
Grace and peace to you
Rev Sharon Hollis
Synod of Vic/Tas
Please find the text of Dr Deidre Palmer’s letter copied below.
To all congregations and faith communities
Marriage and same-gender relationships
My dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Assembly, the national council of the Uniting Church, has been considering the
issue of marriage and same-gender relationships.
This long conversation over almost 30 years in our Church has been a difficult one,
as it has been for many people of faith.
This week members of the 15th Assembly meeting in Melbourne have voiced a wide
range of strongly and faithfully held views, from different theological and cultural
Assembly members have taken the opportunity to speak for and against a range of
different proposals. In doing so, I am proud to say they have modelled a loving
Christian community, holding together and caring for each other.
God’s grace has been abundant… and together we have reached a decision on a
way forward for our Church.
To honour the diversity of Christian belief among our members, we will hold two
equal and distinct statements of belief on marriage.
This decision will allow ministers and celebrants in the Uniting Church the freedom
to conduct or to refuse to conduct same-gender marriages.
The existing statement of belief that “marriage for Christians is the freely given
consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live
together for life” has been retained.
A new additional statement of belief has also been adopted.
That statement reads “marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and
commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life.”
What this means is that ministers who, in good conscience, are willing to conduct
same-gender marriages are able to do so. This does not compromise the rights of
those ministers who, in good conscience, cannot conduct same-gender marriages.
They will continue to be able to teach their belief that marriage may only be between
a man and a woman, and can continue to use a marriage liturgy that reflects that
I want to acknowledge 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.
At the same time I also acknowledge those who are not able to support this change
– and your pain and difficulty in this space.
I offer my prayers that God grants you comfort and healing as we move ahead.
I want to reassure all members of the Uniting Church – your rights to follow your
beliefs on marriage will be respected and protected.
Church councils will have the right to determine whether marriage services take
place on their premises.
Grace and peace to you all as we continue to witness to God’s abundant grace, the
liberating hope of Christ, and the wondrous movement of the Holy Spirit in our
Dr Deidre Palmer
Uniting Church in Australia Assembly
14 July 2018