Anglican priest marries partner in regional Uniting Church wedding


uniting church anglican church drew reid noel richards wedding same-sex marriage bendigo
Photos: Facebook

Ordained Anglican priest Father Noel Richards has married his partner Drew Reid in a church ceremony, in a first for the regional Victorian city of Bendigo.

The couple have been together for more than five years and tied the knot at St Andrew’s Uniting Church last weekend. It’s the first same-sex wedding ceremony in a Bendigo church.

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But while Father Noel has been an ordained Anglican priest for more than 40 years, the couple were unable to marry at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in their city.

Drew told the Bendigo Advertiser he proposed after the couple spoke about the Uniting Church’s vote last year to allow same-sex marriages.

“We were talking about that… After a couple of wines with dinner, I just said Noel Richards, ‘Will you marry me?'” he recalled.

Drew joked, “I gave him a two-week cooling off period to change his mind. But he didn’t!

“The [St Andrews] congregation has just loved Noel. When they heard about our relationship they were just really excited for us.

“We can’t do it in St Paul’s at the one end of the street, so we’ve moved 300 yards up to St Andrew’s where we can.”

Father Noel said even if he had faced pushback from his church, nothing was going to stop their wedding.

“I said if they say I can’t go ahead with it, we’re going to do it anyway,” he said.

Bendigo church wedding service was warm and loving

Uniting Church Reverend Di Esbensen told the Advertiser she was proud to officiate the couple’s wedding.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled that we could celebrate with these two gorgeous men,” she said.

“It’s also great to celebrate being a church that is open and inclusive and happy to celebrate good relationships.”

She added the Bendigo population had been “so enthusiastic” in their support for same-sex marriage in 2017.

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“The service was warm and loving and relaxed, while having this sense of depth and dignity every wedding deserves.”

Sydney Anglican Archbishop’s same-sex marriage controversy

The Anglican Church does not permit its clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

But last September, the Uniting Church became the first major Australian Christian denomination to endorse same-sex marriages, approving two definitions of marriage.

One definition is between a man and a woman, and the other is between two people as in Australian law. Ministers are able to choose.

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies made controversy this month after telling clergy who supported same-sex marriage to “please leave us” rather than “ruin the church”.

In September, the Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta voted to allow priests to bless same-sex marriages.

But senior Anglicans opposed the move and the church’s internal appeals tribunal is now considering the decision.

Dr Davies said the Anglican church was under pressure to “satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world” but claimed backing the unions would “defile the marriage bed”.

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