New Zealand: Presbyterian Church to defy its governing body and perform same-sex marriages

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A church in Wellington, New Zealand, has vowed to go against its governing body if equal marriage becomes legal, and perform same-sex weddings, “because what matters in marriage is love and commitment.”

The St Andrews on the Terrace Presbyterian Church, released a statement today titled “We support equal marriage”, which said that the church would remain inclusive, and welcome same-sex couples to get married, when marriage equality is reached.

This announcement came despite the Presbyterian General Assembly’s recent announcement that it would not officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies.

The New Zealand Marriage Amendment Bill, which would legalise equal marriage, passed its first reading in parliament back in August, with a majority of 80 votes to 40.

A statement from the Wellington based church read:

“In response to the Presbyterian General Assembly’s decision to oppose the Marriage Amendment Bill currently before parliament, the minister and community at St Andrew’s on The Terrace Presbyterian Church today restated their commitment to be an inclusive church, welcoming and including people of any sexual orientation or gender identity.”

On behalf of the church, Reverend Dr Margaret Mayman said: “We are looking forward to the passing of the Marriage Amendment Bill which will mean that we can offer to perform and bless civil marriages for same-sex couples,”

“And we are relieved that the assembly left ministers with the freedom to make decisions about whom they will marry.”

After the bill passed its first reading, the majority of New Zealand religious groups vowed not to officiate same-sex marriages. Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Orthodox Jews had already prohibited same-sex marriages on their premises, and they were joined by Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists and many other smaller denominations.

Public submissions are currently being accepted on the bill, the deadline for which is 26 October.