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Presbyterians ask ministers to hold fire

Sun 18 Aug 2013 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

The Presbyterian Church is asking its ministers who have agreed to conduct same-sex weddings to hold fire to preserve the unity of the Church. Several ministers, including the high-profile Margaret Mayman of Wellington's St Andrew's On The Terrace, have already taken bookings to conduct the weddings despite a 75 percent majority at last October's General Assembly upholding that marriages must be between an man and a woman. However, at the same time the Presbyterians narrowly failed to pass a church law that would have expressly prohibited ministers from marrying same-sex couples. Complicating the situation, the church's Book of Order committee subsequently ruled last month that whether or not to marry same-sex couples  is subject to each minister's "liberty of conscience and the right of private judgement." Now, on the eve of the marriage equality legislation taking effect, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Ray Coster, has asked ministers such as Mayman to hold fire, in an attempt to protect what he sees as the Church's "peace and unity." The Presbyterians have been wrestling with issues around homosexuality for years. They were rocked when one of its ministers, the late David Clark, came out in the middle of the 1991 General Assembly. They have long been criticised, from within and without, of sacrificing justice for glbti people in favour of forcibly maintaining church unity.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 18th August 2013 - 11:20am

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