Over many years, the Uniting Church in Australia nationally has been having conversations about homosexuality – initially in terms of church leadership, and more recently in relation to same-gender marriage. In July 2018 the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church considered a report and several proposals in relation to same-gender marriage. One of this Presbytery’s representatives has provided a description of the experience of the Assembly, including the process leading to its decision on same-gender marriage.
Basically the Assembly decision in July 2018 recognised two statements of belief that marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God to live together for life made by:
The decision also affirms that Ministers and celebrants authorised by the Uniting Church in Australia may exercise freedom to decide whether the minister’s or celebrant’s religious beliefs allow the minister or celebrant to accept requests to celebrate marriages. This freedom cannot be restricted by any Council of the Church, including Church Councils.
Further, the decision noted that Church Councils have the authority under Regulation 4.4.1 to permit or refuse the use of any property held for the use of the Congregation for the celebration of marriages, as authorised under the Marriage Act and according to the rites of the Uniting Church in Australia.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19 NIV.
Recognising the differing theological perspectives on this within the members of the Uniting Church, in January 2019 the President of the Assembly issued a pastoral letter and prayer.