The Uniting Church of Australia is the third largest Christian denomination in the country.

The Uniting Church of Australia has announced that it will allow same-sex marriages to take place in their churches. Earlier this week, the church put a vote to its national assembly, who voted in favour.

Their new marriage policy states: “Marriage is a gift God has given to humankind for the well-being of the whole human family.

“For Christians, marriage is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life. It is intended to be the mutually faithful life-long union of two people expressed in every part of their life together.

“In marriage two people seek to encourage and enrich each other through love and companionship, experience the fruitfulness of family, contribute to the well-being of society and strengthen the mission of the church.

“In giving themselves to each other in love, two people reflect the love of Christ for his Church. In marriage, two people are called to live together faithfully, and to love each other with respect, tenderness and delight.

“They share the life of a wider family and community and may be entrusted with the gift and care of children. They help to shape a society in which human dignity and happiness may flourish and abound.

“Marriage is not to be entered into lightly or selfishly, but responsibly and in the love of God. It is a gift of God and a way of life that all people should honour.”

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However, despite the new policy, it further added that individual ministers who did not wish to marry same-sex couples because of their beliefs, would be free from doing so.

Dr. Deidre Palmer, the President of the Uniting Church said: “This decision follows many years of reflection, prayer and discernment, and I want to thank Assembly members for the way they have responded with grace to what is a difficult conversation for many people of faith.”

Addressing LGBTQ members of the church, she said: “I know that this conversation is painful and difficult for you.” Palmer then addressed ministers who did share the view of inclusiveness, saying: “We also acknowledge those who for whatever reason have not been able to support this change – and your pain and difficulty in this space.

“Please rest assured that your rights to follow your beliefs on marriage will be respected and protected.

“I thank you all for modelling a loving Christian community, holding together and caring for each other, across our diversity of strongly and faithfully held views.”