Cape Times

Church backs same-sex couples

Right to be ordained and to get married


THE Southern Synod (church council) of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (Urcsa) will permit gay marriage, after years of deliberati­on.

In a statement the church said: “If LGBTQI are considered full members, then they need to enjoy the full rights of membership. In 2016, the General Synod took a process decision and referred the matter to the seven regional synods of the Urcsa.

“Based on that referral from the General Synod, the Southern Synod took the decision on October25, 2018, to ordain the LGBTIQ (i.e. homosexual) members who meet the minimum requiremen­ts to become ministers in Urcsa, and to marry them.”

In 2005 the General Synod took a decision based on its Church Order (constituti­on) that the only condition for membership in the Urcsa was to believe in Christ.

On this basis the church declared that it needed to embrace, love and take the LGBTQI community as full members.

“This decision was not an easy one as members had to grapple with the Bible, but later came to a decision. The synod concluded that the Bible and faith are a mystery of God, because God is knowable but incomprehe­nsible.”

The church said the decision led to an emotional and intellectu­al debate.

“The theme of the synod, ‘Uniting in love, compassion and humility’, encouraged members to open their mind and hearts and they realised that ‘exclusion is a sin’, and that according to the Belhar Confession, God takes a position and is never neutral.

“The Southern Synod decided that homosexual persons are members of Urcsa and must enjoy full rights like marriage and ordination,” the statement said.

The synod also decided to remove the stipulatio­n on polygamy that classified it as “heathenism” as the stipulatio­n was discrimina­tory.

Their decision comes less than a month after the Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay voted in favour of blessing same-sex couples in civil unions in church, becoming the first diocese in southern Africa to take this step.

The diocese voted 104 to 4 to accept without condition those living in same-sex civil unions.

The diocese said it wanted every member of the wider LGBTIQ community to have a union blessed like all other couples in the church.

The diocese of Saldanha Bay stretches from the northern suburbs of Cape Town to the Namibian border.

This decision was not an easy one as members had to grapple with the Bible

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