Lesbian couple sceptical of Church's acceptance

By Lindy Laird

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Whangarei's Christ Church vicar, Denise Kelsall, said she had blessed the marriages of gay people and hoped to continue. Photo / APN
Whangarei's Christ Church vicar, Denise Kelsall, said she had blessed the marriages of gay people and hoped to continue. Photo / APN

A lesbian couple is unsure if they will get married in a church because they do not feel accepted and do not want their child to experience intolerance toward his parents.

The Anglican Synod met in Waitangi this week to discuss issues such as gay marriage and the ordination of gay people. While saying no to same-sex marriages, the Synod will set up a working party to look into how clergy might be able to bless same-gender marriage.

The changes would not be implemented until at least 2020.

Until then, gay couples in a civil union or marriage could be recognised by the church but not as a Christian marriage and not blessed in that sense, Archbishop Philip Richardson said.

A statement read: "The Synod recognised that over many years it has become increasingly aware of the pain to the LGBT community. The Synod has apologised unreservedly for the times actions of the Church have contributed to that pain.

"The Synod wants to develop ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, that tell of the love of Christ, regardless of gender."

One gay women, who wished to remain anonymous, said the Anglican Church's decision not to allow same-sex marriages was colouring the couple's decision about getting married in any church.

She said she, her partner and their 11-year-old son had attended a midnight mass at Christ Church in Whangarei last Christmas and felt uncomfortable.

"At the midnight mass service we were given strange looks, and our child [started] feeling awkward about the situation and wanted to leave," she said.

"Some of my concerns are about introducing my curious child into a world of religion where he can be unjustifiably be made to feel uncomfortable or alienated about having gay parents.

"I have attended several churches of my own accord when I was growing up and when my sexual preference was discovered I was made to feel like I needed to change to be accepted."

The woman said that had she had better experiences back then she would probably be a practising Anglican.

Meanwhile, the vicar of Whangarei's Christ Church, Denise Kelsall, said she had blessed the marriages of gay people and hoped to continue.

"I don't believe love has a gender and I'm happy to bless the love between two people," Ms Kelsall said.

As for the baby steps the Church was taking over same-sex marriage, Mr Kelsall said it was wise. "The Church is an institution and it always moves very slowly."

Change can be frightening for many and it takes time for some people to accept and believe in that change, she said.

The Anglican Church has said it "apologises unreservedly" to the gay and lesbian community. But another gay woman told the Northern Advocate she felt the church's refusal to sanction gay marriage while setting up a group to explore how to be "gay-friendly" amounted to a "bob each way".

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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