Uniting Network Australia expresses great relief that the July 2018 decision of the National Assembly of Uniting Church to allow Ministers and local churches to choose whether to conduct or host weddings under the 1997 definition (“man and woman”) or under an additional definition (“two people”) remains in place as Clause 39(b) of the Constitution will not be invoked.
We are thankful to the people of the Presbytery & Synod of South Australia for their wisdom and discernment at yesterday’s meeting not to invoke this clause, meaning the necessary threshold to halt the decision cannot be reached by the 6-month deadline.
This relief is tempered by the anxiety this whole process has caused. With the postal survey last year, local pre-Assembly discussions and the inquiry into religious freedom, the LGBTIQ community has continued to be under the microscope especially by other Christians over the last 18 months. This builds on 6 years of consultation across the whole church on the topic of marriage and the previous 30+ years of regular debates about our place within the church and its leadership. There is a cumulative effect with all of this that continues to impact the mental and spiritual health of people and even the most resilient have felt the strain.
According to Co-convenors Hannah Reeve and Peter Weeks: “A lot of people are feeling tired and broken in our church right now, especially those who are LGBTIQ and as leaders within Uniting Network we continue to hear stories of profound pain and angst. These ongoing discussions are not an inconvenience or a purely theological debate to us – this is about our relationships and our families and it has continued to hurt deeply.”
We call on the Church as a whole to now enter into a period of healing as we move forward together in our journey towards reconciliation of all people. We ask that the Church also publicly acknowledge the human impact of these processes and reflect on how this can be better handled in the future.
“The church should be a place where everyone can be fully themselves and honest, wherever they are at in their story,” Ms Reeve and Rev Weeks said. “We look forward to ministers and couples continuing to use the additional ‘two people’ marriage liturgy and are relieved that weddings can continue to go ahead as planned.”
We assure the President and General Secretary of our continued prayers for them and other UCA leaders as they lead the Church on this journey.
For further information contact the Co-convenors:
Hannah Reeve (0438 386 383)
Rev Peter Weeks (0416 176 349)