Rochdale Unitarian Church is pleased to announce that it has been granted approval to perform same-sex marriages. It is the first church in Rochdale to obtain a licence for same-sex marriage. Rev Shammy Webster said, “It is right that we should treat same sex relationships in exactly the same way as opposite sex relationships: not least because our Unitarian movement voted at its annual national meetings to support the change in the law, which led to our Chief Officer's involvement in the Select Committee hearings alongside representatives of the Quakers and Liberal Jews; but, more importantly, because the very foundation of Unitarian belief is in Social Justice and Equality for all.”
In 2005, there was much relief within the gay community at the introduction of Civil Partnerships as these gave same sex couples the financial security which had been missing in the past, along with legal recognition of next of kin status to partners who were in committed life-long relationships. In fact Civil Partnerships were little more than business partnership contracts along the same lines as doctors, dentists and solicitors. Even though the gay community were thankful for the protection, it was important that the campaign continued to bring in equal marriage.
Shammy remembers “being at our General Assembly meetings in 2012, when our Unitarian movement voted overwhelmingly in support of Same Sex Marriage; I felt such pride. I had that same feeling when our congregation voted in the same manner for us to perform such marriages in our Church.”
Unitarian churches, nationally, have been providing services of blessing and life-long commitment to same sex couples for decades (as early as the 1950s). This demonstrates two important points: firstly, that the love that exists within a same sex relationship has long been acknowledged within the Unitarian movement; and, secondly, that Unitarianism, in its free and seeking tradition, has a history of bringing new understandings into its midst and putting these into action. Modern Unitarian theology is guided by wisdoms across a spectrum of belief and religious understanding from the traditional Unitarian Christianity, through the Abrahamic faiths, eastern philosophy, Humanism and secular thinking, as well as science.
Shammy says, “As our eyes have opened to new understandings, so we open our hearts and minds to acknowledge and consider that which may help each individual in their continued search for Divine truth, united in the common concern for the fellowship of humanity and the value of life.Unitarians have always believed that rites of passage mark the special occasions on our life journey. This, together with our modern theology, means that we acknowledge how important it is that such occasions should feel meaningful and fulfilling to those who come to mark these important stages of their lives.”
In light of this, and with the new licence, we will work with each couple to construct a service which truly nourishes their needs. For further information, please contact us.