'God wants more gay weddings'

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 13:32 30/08/2013
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MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

HAPPILY MARRIED: Trent Kandler (L) and Paul McCarty (R) were the first Australian same-sex couple to marry in NZ. They were wed in Te Papa's marae.

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Nearly two weeks after same-sex marriages became legal, several Christchurch churches are ready to have the ceremonies take place in their parishes.

Four Christchurch ministers are happy to marry same-sex couples, while a local church is holding an event called "God wants more gay weddings?"

Across New Zealand, Christian ministers who will marry same-sex couples are being profiled on a new website, yes2love.wordpress.com.

The website was launched today by Wellington Presbyterian churchgoer Fionnaigh McKenzie and so far lists 23 ministers and three churches.

McKenzie said she wanted to celebrate a faith that was "accepting and welcoming".

"I was tired of reading headlines about churches saying 'no' to same-sex couples. I know that many ministers and churches are saying 'yes', so I decided to gather details about them," she said.

"I am Presbyterian, and while there are a range of views within the Presbyterian Church, there are many ministers who are committed to justice and equality."

Two Christchurch Methodist ministers, the Rev Jill van de Geer and the Rev Andrew Donaldson, and two Presbyterian ministers, the Rev Dr Geoff King and the Rev Dugald Wilson, are among those listed on the website.

McKenzie hoped the website would be useful for couples looking for a celebrant who would incorporate religious or spiritual elements into a wedding service.

"My partner and I had a ceremony in our church to celebrate our love. It was very moving to feel the support of our church community wrap around us that day," she said.

"I want other couples to know that whatever their sexuality or gender identity might be, they can have a spiritual ceremony if they want to."

Self-labelled "gay affirming" Christchurch church Crave MCC is reaching out as a church willing to perform same-sex marriages.

The church will next month hold a two-day event entitled "God wants more gay weddings? Marriage equality and the church." Australian preacher Karl Hand, an openly gay theologian, will give talks at the event on sexual diversity and the Bible.

Worship leader Neil Hellewell said he thought the event would be a "great opportunity to look at same-sex weddings and the church".

"The Metropolitan Community Church denomination itself has been at the forefront of marriage equality in the States and Canada, and Karl is part of the Australian movement on marriage equality."

He hoped the event would be an "opportunity for some lively discussion."

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