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Same-gender marriage

Last week I went to a Presbytery meeting.

This is rare, but I was compelled by the topic - a proposal that the Uniting Church accept same-gender marriage. (This proposal will go to the triennial Uniting Church Assembly meeting to be held in July in Melbourne.)

The meeting was well attended, and the Moderator, Simon Hansford, who chaired it, facilitated a helpful process of conversation.

During the meeting, I heard from a colleague about a gay wedding that was recently conducted at Emmanuel Synagogue, Woollahra (Here is the link: http://www.starobserver.com.au/news/national-news/new-south-wales-news/s...)

I had assumed that the Uniting Church was out in front on this issue, but no, the Jewish community is leading the way.

I am not sure whether the Uniting Church Assembly will agree to the proposal or not.

(I hope they do, while I acknowledge that there are other equally passionately held views.)

Sadly, whatever the Assembly decides, there will be people who will feel hurt, disappointed and betrayed.

This morning at Bible study, we read John 17:9-26, in which Jesus prays for the church, ‘that they may be one, as we (the Father and Son) are one.’
For most people, unity is a good idea which need not be argued for. However, when issues like same-gender marriage are on the agenda, unity often breaks down, and for reasons of conscience, some leave the conversation and the church.

I am proud of the Uniting Church; it has addressed this issue openly and with courage over a long period. However, this comes at a price.

A unity that matters is precious and costly. Uniformity is far more comfortable, but it is unity that witnesses to the gospel.

The Uniting Church has adopted a high calling in its search for unity. To maintain its vitality, we need to keep practising the art and discipline of listening to others.

What would a church community look like if it were a place where people held passionately opposed views, and valued worshipping in the same place?

To continue the search for unity, two reference points are critical. First, for many, this is an issue of beliefs, but for the LGBTI community it is much more, it is about identity and being. Whatever our opinion, let us be mindful of this.

Secondly, as the Moderator observed at Presbytery, the church spends most of its time talking to itself! We need to do better and speak with people outside the church, in the community, about these issues.

Following the Presbytery meeting, I am now planning for a similar gathering here at Gordon. (Details will follow soon.)

Thanks be to God for all who wrestle with this issue.

Thanks be to God for the LGBTI community who have ensured that we address it, and thanks be to God for the people of Emmanuel Synagogue who have demonstrated that it is possible to move ahead.