THE 13th Assembly was presented with three proposals discussing marriage on Thursday 19 July.
A respectful and articulate discussion followed as Assembly members engaged with the proposers: Rev Avril Hannah- Jones and Jenny Hayes, Port- Phillip West Presbytery (proposal 31/amended to 64); Rev Lu Senituli and Rev Gwen Fisher, South Moreton Presbytery (proposal 43); and Rev Carol Bennett and Rev Alison Whish (proposal 46).
The comments and concerns of the floor were noted by the Facilitation Group so that they could formulate an amended proposal to be presented the following day.
On the afternoon of Friday 20 July, the Facilitation Group presented proposal 71, a new proposal which was written to combine and amend the previously presented proposals on marriage and relationships (31, 43, 46, 64) according to the comments and concerns of the Thursday session.
Discussion followed the presentation, and though some amendments were made, the floor of the Assembly reached an agreement to acknowledge the current position on marriage of the Uniting Church in Australia, as per the minutes of the 8th Assembly in 1997, with further work to be done by the Doctrine Working Group between now and the next Assembly.
An Interim Record of the decision made by the Assembly was printed for members on Saturday 21 July.
This statement was as follows.
The Assembly resolved:
1. To acknowledge that the current position on marriage is set out in Assembly Minute 97.31.12
2. Noting the desire for respectful conversation within the diverse community of the church, and the current public debate about samegender marriage, to ask the Doctrine Working Group, after appropriate consultation across the church and with ongoing liaison with the Standing Committee:
· to prepare a discussion paper on the theology of marriage within the Uniting Church, and explore its implications for public covenants for same-gender relationships
· to circulate the paper widely, and specifically to UAICC National Committee, synods, chairpersons of national conferences, presbyteries, UAICC regions, Uniting Network, the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, congregations, agencies and institutions of the Uniting Church, requesting responses to the Working Group by a date to be determined by the Standing Committee; and
· to summarise responses and bring recommendations to the Standing Committee by November 2014, to enable the Standing Committee to bring a report to the 14th Assembly in 2015