THE national assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia is to allow its clergy to solemnise same-sex marriages.
It has created a new statement on marriage, as being for “two people”; it will stand alongside its current statement, that marriage is for “a man and a woman”. Clergy will be able to refuse to officiate at same-sex weddings.
The President of the Uniting Church, Dr Deidre Palmer, noting that the matter had been debated in the Church for years, said that it was important that the religious convictions of ministers be respected and protected. “We accept the diversity in our midst, and we are allowing our members the freedom to decide on whether they conduct same-sex marriages or not,” she said.
The first same-sex weddings are not expected until later in the year, when a new marriage liturgy is completed.
The Uniting Church, Australia’s third largest Christian denomination, was formed in 1977, combining the Methodist, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches. A significant number of Presbyterians refused to join, remaining in the continuing Presbyterian Church of Australia.