Church backs same-sex cou­ples

Right to be or­dained and to get mar­ried

Cape Times - - METRO - NI­COLA DANIELS ni­[email protected]

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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