THE same-sex-marriage blessing rite authorised by the diocese of Wangaratta in rural Victoria in 2019 (News, 6 September 2019) has been used to bless a marriage that caused controversy in the diocese of Armidale in New South Wales last year.
Peter Sanders, who married his husband, Peter Grace, in 2020, was the organist in the parish of St Mary’s, West Armidale. He left the parish after he reported being told by the diocesan leadership last year that he could no longer play the organ unless he and his husband separated. Many members of the congregation who supported Mr Sanders have since left the parish to worship in a house church led by a Uniting Church minister.
The couple’s marriage was blessed in St Matthew’s, Albury, on 2 January, during the main worship service, using the Wangaratta liturgy, which was cleared for use by the Anglican Church of Australia’s highest court, the Appellate Tribunal, in late 2020. The blessing was given by the Rector, the Revd Peter MacLeod-Miller, a vocal advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community.
A message of support from the Bishop of Wangaratta, the Rt Revd Clarence Bester, was read during the service. Bishop Bester said that he was praying that “the love and care for the ministry offered today may restore hope and dignity to all those who feel sidelined.” Fr MacLeod-Miller told the congregation: “We are celebrating a better, kinder world, and also a real change.”