Rev Judith Kotzé, Director of IAM
Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) has called on supporters of the recent LGB-affirming change in policy by the NG Kerk or Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) to celebrate the move.
IAM, which works towards LGBT inclusivity in Christian churches in South Africa, said it welcomed the 9 October vote by the General Synod of the DRC to allow congregations to accept and confirm same-sex unions.
The synod also voted that congregations could allow non-celibate, openly gay ministers to serve in the church.
“The decision reaffirms the equality of all people regardless of sexual orientation and commits to the dignity of all people created in the image of God,” said IAM in a statement.
“It recognises the diversity of opinions on sexual orientation, same sex relationships, civil unions and marriages within the DRC and calls on all to continue dealing with the issue in a spirit of Christian Love and Grace.
“IAM stands in solidarity with the courageous decision taken and prays that other faith communities in South Africa, Africa and in the world will be inspired to follow suit, moving towards radical inclusion and the celebration of the gift of diversity,” said the group.
IAM’s Director, Rev Judith Kotzé, who qualified as one of the first DRC female ministers in 1995, told Mambaonline that since the synod’s decision there have been efforts by some conservative leaders and congregations to lobby for a special general synod to reverse the policy.
Kotzé, however, has pointed out that the synod’s vote was open and representative and that each congregation is still allowed to decide on adopting the new positions.
“What is required now is for more people who are celebrating the decision to be visible and to say we affirm the decision and celebrate it with you, so that those wanting to reverse it know that there are more people celebrating than those against it,” she said.
“Congregations that are against the decision are still free to continue with their own journey and path to inclusivity at their own pace,” she added.
“This has been a journey since 1986, it didn’t just come from a two day discussion. It is reflective of the reality that today there is a diversity in how the Bible is interpreted,” said Kotzé
While the DRC’s decision has generally been welcomed within the LGBT community, some have criticised the reality that congregations that do not support it can still choose to discriminate against gays and lesbians. The church, while acknowledging same-sex unions, has also asserted that marriage can only be between a man and woman.