Freemantle United Reformed Church now offers marriage services to same-sex couples on the same basis as to mixed gender couples.
The United Reformed Church on Shirley Road has traditionally offered a welcome to all who choose to come to it, believing that the love of God is offered to all people, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. 65 years ago, in 1953, the church building was first registered for the solemnization of marriages. The Elders and Members of this small congregation now rejoice that they can extend the invitation to couples who wish to begin their married life with a service in church the opportunity to do so, regardless of gender.
The members of Freemantle United Reformed Church, having prayed about the issues involved, voted unanimously at a Church Meeting to register their church building as a venue offering full marriage services to same-sex couples.
This vote was made possible after a resolution was passed at the United Reformed Church General Assembly (the denomination’s highest policy-making body) in July 2016, allowing local United Reformed churches to register for weddings of same-sex couples.
Revd Dr Sarah Hall, Minister of Freemantle United Reformed Church, expressed her personal willingness to conduct weddings for same-sex couples at the church. She said:
“In this congregation we believe God loves and accepts everyone, and that we should do the same.
When two people love each other and want to commit their lives to each other, we want to help them, not stand in their way.
We are aware that others understand the Bible differently but we’ve been praying and thinking about this a long time and we believe this is what God is calling us to do. So we’re very excited at this new development!”
Same sex couples seeking to be married in Freemantle United Reformed Church will go through the same initial interview and preparation as couples of mixed gender seeking to be married there. The first contact will be with the Minister. Contact and other details can be found on the Church website: freemantleurc.org.uk/ .
The URC General Assembly decision in 2016 followed legislation in 2013 and 2014 bringing recognition for same-sex marriage into law in England, Wales and Scotland. The legislation stipulated that religious organisations would have to ‘opt in’ if they wished to offer these marriage services.
Further information for editors
- Same-sex partnerships were first recognised in law in the UK by the Civil Partnerships Act of 2004.
- The United Reformed Church General Assembly of 2012 granted consent for local churches within the United Reformed Church to register civil partnerships in their buildings.
- United Reformed churches that wish to offer marriage services to same-sex couples believe that all couples in committed relationships who wish to solemnise their marriage vows before God should have the right to do so.
- United Reformed churches are not obliged to register their properties for same-sex marriages. It is a matter for local ‘opt-in’, if the local church so decides.