This has included sponsoring the first two Uniting Church floats in the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parades, many members participating in Uniting Network, media campaigns naming the church as a ‘safe place’, and most recently the appointment of an openly gay and partnered minister.
In November 2011, the congregation of Paddington Uniting Church passed by consensus a proposal to support marriage equality. This followed a 3 month discernment process in which members discussed the theology of marriage, the concepts of ‘right relationships’ and ‘celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in marriage’, the history of marriage laws and rites, and the teachings of Jesus about the nature of the kin(g)dom of God.
Since then, members of the congregation, supported by our ministry staff, have been active in campaigning for changes to Australian legislation. One part of this activity was a submission made by the church to the parallel House of Representatives and Senate Inquiries into their respective (virtually identical) marriage equality bills.
Following these submissions, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee invited Rev Ben Gilmour and Justin Whelan to appear at a Sydney hearing on 3 May 2012. It was a wonderful opportunity to present an inclusive Christian view on marriage, especially as we followed on immediately from some of our brothers and sisters in the church opposed to changes to marriage laws.
Paddington Uniting Church continues to work alongside inclusive Christian churches, clergy and lay people for an inclusive society that includes the right of people of the same sex to be married.