On Friday 19th October 2018, the UCA Assembly General Secretary sent a letter to UCA marriage celebrants to inform them that the decision made by the 15th UCA Assembly in July 2018 (to honour the diversity of Christian belief by holding two equal and distinct statements of belief on marriage) may be suspended if “at least half the Presbyteries within the bounds of each of at least half the Synods, or at least half the Synods, notify the President that they have determined that in their opinion a decision includes a matter vital to the life of the Church; and there was inadequate consultation prior to the decision.” (Uniting Church Constitution, Part D, Section 39b). The matter will be discussed at the SA Presbytery and Synod meeting in mid-November. Depending on the outcome of decisions, the threshold set out in Section 39b may be reached. The President would then notify the Church that the decision of the Assembly is suspended until further consultation is undertaken; and following this consultation the Assembly determines whether to affirm, vary or revoke the original decision and report its decision and reasons to the Church. If this does happen, from the time the President notifies the Church that the decision is suspended, no same-gender marriages will be able to be performed by Uniting Church celebrants, nor can the newly approved marriage rite or statement on marriage be used, until further consultation occurs and the Assembly meets again to determine whether to affirm, vary or revoke the original decision.
The full letter is attached below.
The Pilgrim Ministers have agreed to make the following statement:
We uphold the integrity, dignity and worth of people who identify as GLBTIQ, and acknowledge the ministry as well as the struggle of LGBTIQ people in the life of the UCA.
We affirm the validity of the decision of the 15th UCA Assembly to hold equal and distinctive statements of belief on marriage with provision for a marriage service for same gender people while at the same time affirming an unchanged (traditional) marriage service between a man and a woman. Both statements recognise marriage as a life-long union.
We lament that this ‘both/and’ decision, affirmed with a substantial majority at the 15th Assembly, is being challenged, and puts at risk the decision to hold two equal and distinctive statements of belief on marriage.
We regret that this diminishes the integrity of people who identify as LGBTIQ and removes their capacity to enter into a life-long union in the covenant of marriage in a service conducted by the church.
We welcome both the joy and the challenge of being part of a diverse and vibrant Christian fellowship in the Uniting Church in Australia where a range of strongly held theological and cultural perspectives can co-exist, each with its own integrity.
We celebrate the practices of welcome, respect and inclusion that provides a place of belonging for all people in the Uniting Church in Australia, irrespective of their sexuality, gender, or culture.
We commit ourselves to following the way of Christ, and open ourselves to the dynamic work of God’s Spirit weaving in and through the church.