An Open Letter from the Community of St Luke

An Open Letter to the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Right Reverend Andrew Norton:

Dear Andrew,

We write to commend you in your leadership of our Church and thank you for your prayerful guidance at General Assembly 2014. We wish to thank you too for standing against the opinion of the majority in wanting the discussion pertaining to matters of leadership, marriage, and sexuality to be handled differently than in the past.

We also wish to encourage you to continue in the good work we saw you engaged in at General Assembly: promoting relationships and discussion in order that we may continue to be a broad church with a broad mission.

The decisions taken at General Assembly 2014 are however very disturbing for us. For the Community of St Luke to turn away couples who want to marry, based on their sexual identity, is somewhat akin to turning away left-handed people, or people of a minority race. For us to turn away sexual minorities is contrary to the heart of our theology, namely the love and embrace of God.

The decisions taken by General Assembly 2014 are deeply offensive to sexual minorities, deeply offensive to all those who are the parents, grandparents, partners, children, grandchildren, and Christian brothers and sisters of sexual minorities, and deeply offensive to all who believe on the basis of sound scholarship and experience that sexual diversity is a given to be accepted, welcomed and celebrated.

The decision of General Assembly concerning marriage is also contrary to the clear tradition of Presbyterianism regarding Liberty of Conscience, the clear guidance of our Doctrine Core Group, and the clear wishes of our elected national leaders, namely the Moderator and Moderator-Designate.

Those at General Assembly who supported that decision need to know that the Community of St Luke acknowledge their right to exercise Liberty of Conscience. However by denying us the same right, they have asked us to deny our fundamental theology pertaining to the very nature of God. This theology undergirds both our community life and mission.

Although we have great love for our Church, you need to know that we have not, will not, and cannot turn sexual minorities away. We will continue to welcome all people into our community, including all who are called into leadership, all who wish to be baptised, and all who wish to be married.

We can do no other and be true to our faith.

Angela Murdoch
Parish Clerk

Glynn Cardy
Minister

On behalf of the Parish Council of the Community of St Luke, Remuera.

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St Andrew’s on The Terrace Will Defy Church’s Ban

Tuesday 7 October 2014, 6:30 pm

Press Release: St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Media Statement: Presbyterian Church Decision

St Andrew’s on The Terrace Presbyterian Church (Wellington) is deeply disappointed but defiant in the face of the news today that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church has voted to ban Ministers from performing marriages between same-sex couples.

“This decision is deeply disturbing and we strongly dissent from it” says St Andrew’s Parish Convenor, Sonia Groes-Petrie. “The Presbyterian tradition is for ministers to have freedom to make decisions about whom they will marry. There is a range of opinions on same-sex marriage within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and today’s decision does not reflect that diversity.”

Interim Minister Jim Cunningham says “I’m appalled at the decision that has been made. We see sexual orientation and gender identity as irrelevant in the celebration of a couple’s union. It is the quality of the relationship, the love and commitment that matters. St Andrew’s has been blessing the relationships of same sex couples for over twenty years, celebrating civil unions since 2005 and marriages since August last year.”

The national church has been debating the implications of same-sex marriages now being legal.

“It seems incredible that the church is legislating against love. It’s embarrassing that religious organisations are the only stumbling block to full equality for same-sex couples” says St Andrew’s Parish Councillor and General Assembly representative Paul Barber.

In the wake of this decision, St Andrew’s on The Terrace restated their commitment to be an inclusive church, faithful to the gospel message of love and justice. “We have Ministers within our community who are registered as civil celebrants and we will continue to be able to provide a welcoming place for any couple who wishes to marry. Inclusiveness is of vital importance in the mission of our faith community. We will continue to work towards our vision for our national church where diversity is celebrated and where no-one is excluded.”