The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) is investigating two Johannesburg ministers for blessing same-sex marriages.
Eyewitness News reported on Thursday that Reverend Johannes Wolmarans has been charged with misconduct for marrying lesbian and gay couples.
Reverend Martin Young, from St Columba’s Presbyterian Church in Parkview, has also been charged with preaching at Wolmarans’ same-sex wedding ceremonies.
Wolmarans told the disciplinary board that the charges are not legitimate because the church has no rules specifically forbidding the blessing of same-sex marriages.
In a statement confirmed by the UPCSA’s General Assembly in 2006, however, the church affirmed that Christian marriage is defined “as an ordained covenant that exists between one man and one woman.”
It also instructed “all marriage officers affiliated with the UPCSA to remain faithful to the church’s definition of marriage…”
The disciplinary hearing against the two men will résumé next month, with the church refusing to comment on the matter until it has been concluded.
The possible sanctions against the ministers follow the recent decision by the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) to allow congregations to accept and confirm same-sex unions and to allow gay ministers.
The religious community is also awaiting an imminent potentially groundbreaking Constitutional Court ruling relating to the Methodist Church of South Africa’s firing of minister Ecclesia De Lange in 2010 for marrying her same-sex partner.
De Lange took the church to the court because she believes that it “acted unconstitutionally, unlawfully and unfairly” in firing her.