Conservative factions within the Uniting Church are reportedly still pushing for a reversal of the church’s endorsement of same-sex marriage.
Last July, the Uniting Church voted to endorse same-sex marriage and allow individual ministers to choose whether or not to officiate same-sex marriages.
The church’s national assembly approved two definitions of marriage, one between a man and a woman and another between two people.
A bid to undo the decision and send it to another vote failed to garner enough support in January.
Now ABC News reports that multiple conservative churches are still pushing back, with some reportedly separating themselves from the main assembly over the issue.
One of the movements objecting is the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, chaired by Reverend Hedley Fihaki.
Fihaki told the ABC: “The main issue is an issue of faith — what is the Gospel? Same-sex marriage is just one of those issues.
“I think there’s a division not just between the Assembly of Confessing Congregations and the Uniting Church, but … between evangelicals as a whole and the Uniting Church.
“The new decisions that have been made by the [Uniting Church] seem to suggest that it can be other lords, other sexual practices and still be okay.
“We are saying no, that’s not right, according to our understanding of scripture and the basis of union.
“The Uniting Church wants to assert its authority over us, when we’re simply trying our best to maintain our integrity in the way we live and practise our Christian faith.”
‘Two statements of belief on marriage remain in place’
Following the same-sex marriage decision, the Uniting Church’s constitution allowed presbyteries and synods to lodge an objection within six months.
An objection was lodged, but a majority vote was not reached by the January 13 deadline meaning same-sex ceremonies would continue and the issue would not go to another vote.
In a statement, Uniting Church in Australia president Deidre Palmer said the ABC report contained “false allegations” and Uniting Church leaders would “continue to work in good faith” across the church’s “theological diversity”.
“The Uniting Church in Australia Assembly’s decision to recognise two statements of belief on marriage remains in place,” Dr Palmer said.
“This decision allows ministers and celebrants authorised by the Uniting Church the freedom to conduct or to refuse to conduct same-gender marriages.
“I want to reassure all members of the Uniting Church — your rights to follow your beliefs on marriage will continue to be respected and protected.”
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