THE Bathurst Uniting Church will soon determine its position on allowing same-sex couples to wed in the local church.
Over the weekend, the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia announced that the church will now hold two equal and distinct statements of belief on marriage.
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.
Another statement has also been adopted, which reads “marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life”.
As there are now dual statements, church councils are to determine individually which marriage services can take place on the premises and ministers will not be forced to perform marriages they “in good conscience” don’t feel they can conduct.
“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 conviction,” Assembly president Dr Deidre Palmer said.
Reverend Claire Wright, the minister of the Bathurst Uniting Church, said she plans to meet with members of her congregation to determine which position the local church will adopt.
She said a statement about the Assembly’s decision was read at Sunday’s service and that those present were pleased that, no matter their view on same-sex marriage, it will be protected.
“We are very glad that the range of views of our congregations are both respected and protected [by the statements],” Rev. Wright said.
“We are very glad for those for whom this decision has been a long time coming.
“In a sense, we are trying to do justice to the fact that the dual statements allow us to stay in fellowship with each other.”
She said the decision of the Assembly took years of conversation and prayer to come to.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Australia since December, 9 2017.
The bill to amend the Marriage Act was introduced to Parliament after a voluntary postal survey, held between September 12 and November 7, 2017, returned a 61.6 per cent yes vote in favour of same-sex marriage.
In the Calare electorate, 60.2 per cent of voters responded with a yes.