Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Welcome, UCC

From the New York Times:

The United Church of Christ became the first mainline Christian denomination to support same-sex marriage officially when its general synod passed a resolution on Monday affirming “equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender.”

The resolution was adopted in the face of efforts to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It was both a theological statement and a protest against discrimination, said the Rev. John H. Thomas, the president and general minister of the denomination, which has 6,000 congregations and 1.3 million members.

“On this July 4, the United Church of Christ has courageously acted to declare freedom, affirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of gay – of same-gender – couples to have their relationships recognized as marriages by the state, and encouraging our local churches to celebrate those marriages,” Mr. Thomas said at a news conference after the vote by the General Synod.


The United Church of Christ prides itself on being in the forefront of human and civil rights issues. On its Web site, the denomination says it and its predecessors were among the first churches to take a stand against slavery, in 1700, the first to ordain a woman, in 1853, and the first to publish an inclusive-language hymnal, in 1995.

Its slogan, “God is still speaking,” is meant to suggest that the Bible is not the sole source of divine instruction, and that Scripture must be interpreted in today’s context.

The equal marriage rights resolution states, in part, “Ideas about marriage have shifted and changed dramatically throughout human history, and such change continues even today.” It continues, “In the Gospel we find ground for a definition of marriage and family relationships based on the affirmation of the full humanity of each partner, lived out in mutual care and respect for one another.”

Not to quibble, but I would consider the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) to be both a mainline demonination — they were some of the founders of the colonies in North America, including Pennsylvania — and they have a record of inclusiveness and acceptance of gay and lesbians, including witnessing weddings, that goes back decades. But it’s nice to have another congregation join the fight.