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Church Supports Marriage Between Man And Woman

Church Supports Marriage Between Man And Woman

At last week's General Assembly gathering, the Presbyterian Church upheld the historic Christian understanding of marriage as the loving, faithful union of a man and a woman.

"We are being faithful to what we understand Christ is calling us to as a Church," said Moderator of Presbyterian Church, the Right Rev Ray Coster.

During debate on the matter at General Assembly, Presbyterians urged the country's legislators not to "alter or confuse the meaning of marriage, which has always been about the union of male and female, and is of deep spiritual significance for New Zealanders of many faiths and cultures".

"The Church does not support same-sex marriage and will be making a submission to urge Parliament not to proceed with the proposed amendment to the Marriage Act," said Ray.

"There are strong feelings on either side of this issue, and we respect the range of genuinely held beliefs in our Church. We know that some people felt hurt by this decision. It is important to note that what we stand together on as a Church far outweighs the issues that divide us."

All congregations in the Presbyterian Church had the opportunity to be represented at this year's General Assembly and to participate in the debate.

"Some in the Church chose to register their dissent to this decision opposing same-sex marriage. Registering dissent is an accepted part of Presbyterian process, and is part of our tradition of open and robust debate. All members are bound by the rulings of General Assembly, even if they have registered their dissent against a decision.

"While there was support for a proposal to prohibit ministers from conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies, it narrowly failed to get the 60 percent majority required to pass into church law."

Ray said that debate on the matter reflects the same conversations that are going on in the wider community about same sex relationships, and that legislation currently before parliament has bought the matter to the fore.

Should legislation to allow same-sex marriage be passed into NZ law, ministers will have the flexibility to marry same-sex couples.

Ray emphasised that what is important for the Church "is that our message of serving and sharing Christ's love for all remains the same. We will continue to share the Good News, and our 400 parishes around the country will continue with their outreach to help share Christ's love, and bring about better outcomes for Kiwis and their families."

Notes to the reporter:

- The group Presbyterian Affirm, which supports a traditional Biblical interpretation of sexual morality, issued a press release today discussing the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly decisions regarding same-sex marriage. The Affirm group is not the official spokespeople for the Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church's spokesperson is its elected Moderator, the Right Rev Ray Coster.

- The Presbyterian Church is the third largest denomination in Aotearoa New Zealand, with more than 400,000 people identifying as Presbyterian in the 2001 Census, and 30,000 regular church attenders.

- The Moderator is the elected leader of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, elected every two years.

- General Assembly is the Church's top decision-making body.

- General Assembly 2012 was held at Rotorua Boys High School, from 4 October to 7 October. More information about GA12 is available at http://www.presbyterian.org.nz/about-us/general-assembly


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