Region of SA church votes to affirm same-sex marriage


A region of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA) has voted in favour of accepting LGBTIQ clergy and blessing same-sex marriages.

On 25 October, the Southern Synod of the URCSA agreed to “ordain LGBTIQ members who meet the minimum requirements to become a minister in URCSA and to marry them.”

It said in a statement that the decision was “not an easy one” as its members had to “grapple with the Bible.” Following an “emotional and intellectual debate,” they concluded that “exclusion is a sin.”

The Southern synod affirmed that “homosexual persons are members of URCSA and must enjoy full rights like marriage and ordination.”

The announcement will not have any practical effect at this point. The Southern Synod is one of seven synods of the URCSA, including Namibia and Lesotho, and its stance would need to be approved by the General Synod.

Solly Mabelane, the Southern Synod Scribe, told Mambaonline that the decision was a declaration of his region’s position on the issue.

“The General Synod discussed the matter in 2016 and because it wasn’t finalised it referred the matter to the regional synods to engage on it and give feedback so that in the next General Synod maybe a decision [will be taken]…” The Southern Synod’s position “will become our recommendation to the General Synod,” Mabelane explained.

The Southern Synod also decided to remove stipulations on polygamy that classified it as “heathenism” and blocked polygamists from being elected to office. The synod felt that this was “discriminatory.”

The Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa was formed in 1994 through the union of the Dutch Reformed mission churches. It has over a million members.

Earlier this month, the Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay also took the step of agreeing to bless same-sex couples.

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