NZ Herald 17 August 2013
The head of New Zealand’s third-largest church has asked its ministers to consider a temporary ban on gay marriages to preserve the church’s “peace and unity”.
The call from Presbyterian Church Moderator Ray Coster comes as all the country’s biggest Protestant churches remain divided over how to respond to the legalisation of same-sex marriage, which comes into force on Monday.
Several ministers, including lesbian Presbyterian minister Margaret Mayman at Wellington’s St Andrew’s on the Terrace, are already taking bookings for same-sex weddings and plan a “progressive Christian” website listing ministers of all denominations willing to conduct such marriages.
But the conservative Presbyterian Affirm movement is challenging a legal opinion by a church advisory committee that ministers can choose whether to perform a same-sex marriage.
The Anglican Church, still the nation’s biggest in the 2006 Census, says its ministers cannot conduct same-sex weddings pending a report from a commission chaired by former Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand to its next general synod in Paihia next May.
Methodist Church president Rex Nathan said his church, the fourth-biggest, was split “50/50” and would leave the decision to individual ministers and their congregations.