In the light of the debates and discussions about human sexuality over the past 18 months in Australia society …
and, in particular, in the light of the recent letter from the Assembly General Secretary of the Uniting Church, regarding the decision of the Assembly about marrying people of the same gender …
I want to offer the seven affirmations below to my LGBTIQ friends and colleagues, and to the allies who are seeking to support them at this time.
They aren’t original to me. They simply come from decisions made by the church in council. They were important at the time, and they still stand as guides and standards for who we are, together, as the church, today.
Might all within the Uniting Church reflect on and pray about these affirmations, and each of us seek to live up to them in our personal discipleship and our life as a community.
We affirm that all baptised Christians belong in Christ’s church and are to be welcomed at his table, regardless of their sexual orientation (Assembly Standing Committee, 87.46(ii))
We affirm that membership of the Uniting Church is open to all persons, subject only to the guidance of the Basis of Union, the Constitution, the Regulations and policies of the Assembly (11th Assembly, 03.69.03.02)
We reject judgemental attitudes in sexual ethics and we bear witness to the renewing grace of God in this as in all attitudes of human behaviour (9th Assembly, 97.31.06)
We recognise the pain of those in the church whose sense of identity and experiences of healing through a faithful commitment to a person of the same sex has not been recognised and blessed by the church (Assembly Standing Committee, 93.21(4))
We regret that faithful Christian gay and lesbian people, on whose lives the Assembly deliberations have impacted, have continued to experience pain in our church 12th Assembly, 06.41.3)
We commit to become safe communities where people may hold diverse beliefs on these matters and work together as the Body of Christ; and (c) to recognise that the possibility of living with difference is a gift which Christ offers to the world. (12th Assembly, 06.47.7)
We recognise that within the Uniting Church there is a diversity of religious beliefs and ethical understandings, developed through continuing faithful discernment and held with integrity on matters relating to sexuality and marriage; and that the Church is able to accept this diversity within its life and make the decisions necessary to enable its ministry and members to act with integrity in accordance with their beliefs (15th Assembly, 18 unconfirmed minute)
Reading through these once again, I realise just how relevant and potent these statements are for the present time in the life of our church. We still need to stand against judgemental attitudes. We still need to hear the pain and hold the hurts of people in our midst. We still need to affirm that all belong without prejudice. We still need to bear witness to the renewing grace of God.
So I simply want to underline that I value and appreciate my LGBTIQ friends and colleagues and am praying and hoping for positive and hopeful decisions and actions in the immediate future and beyond.
A fine statement expressing similar sentiments has been made by the Ministers of Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide, which can be read at http://www.pilgrim.org.au/blog/?p=1420