Same-sex marriage: City churches say no but one is taking a different stand
Most of Auckland's churches say a resounding no to same-sex marriage but one Ponsonby church is taking a stand and saying "I do".
Newly appointed Auckland Unitarian Church minister Rev Matt Tittle says he is dismayed to see so many churches closing their doors to gay couples.
The Ponsonby church was formally founded in 1898 to provide a space for people whose beliefs failed to fit orthodox Christianity.
The Unitarians are historically progressive and happily perform same-sex marriages, ordain gay clergy and welcome all of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to their congregations around the world.
"In most faiths these communities are not given a full spiritual home. All of these congregations will welcome them as members but they're not going to give them all of the rights of passage and privileges that come with that," Dr Tittle says.
"We recognise everyone - there are not some who are saved and those who are damned to hell."
Dr Tittle arrived in Auckland from the United States three months ago having worked as a minister there for more than 10 years.
The Unitarian Church will not hire clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriages, he says.
He has officiated at a number of same-sex weddings in the US, both those legally recognised by the state and those which were not.
As a member of the clergy he is often asked how he can justify embracing gay marriage based on what the Bible teaches.
He says the Bible contains no more than a dozen references to homosexuality in more than 30,000 verses.
"And Jesus says absolutely nothing. But there isn't a page in any sacred text of any religion that doesn't mention love, kindness and compassion."
Dr Tittle accepts that it will be hard for other churches to come around to the idea.
"It is a very difficult struggle for them. We went through this decades ago when the Unitarians passed a resolution about gay rights in 1970 and I think that was even too late."
The Catholic church says no Catholic priests or churches will be involved in same-sex marriages but each individual Methodist and Baptist church is allowed to come to its own decision.
Of the central Auckland Methodist and Baptist churches the Auckland City Harbour News spoke to none said they will marry same-sex couples.
Clergy at the progressive Anglican church St Matthew-in-the-City will also not be allowed to perform same-sex marriages until a commission reports on the issue next year.
St Matthew's Rev Glynn Cardy says the decision is disappointing.
"We would really like to take weddings at the church but we will encourage couples who want to marry here to have the formal part at a registry office and their ceremony here."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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