Church splits over internal same-sex marriage war
ONE of the Gold Coast's biggest churches has all-but split with the nation's third largest Christian denominations over an internal war over same-sex marriage.
Newlife Uniting Church at Robina is threatening to leave the Uniting Church of Australia because Newlife does not agree with the Christian denomination's decision to allow ministers to marry gay couples.
On November 4, it announced it had scrapped Uniting from its name and removed all Uniting Church signage from its Robina building and social media pages.
It has not yet left the denomination nor has it ruled out doing it in the future.
Newlife is the largest of Uniting Church of Australia's more than 2000 congregations, raking in more than $3.2 million a year in revenue.
More than 1700 people attend its weekend services and almost 3000 call the church home.
In July, Uniting Church of Australia's 265-member group voted to allow ministers to marry gay couples.
A splinter group of eight ministers from separate congregations lead by Newlife head Rev Stu Cameron has begun a push to retain the traditional notion of marriage between a man and a woman.
"This proposal is not made lightly or out of anger or reaction. It is a response made with
humility and prayerful, tearful concern for the Uniting Church - a movement we love and
have much to be thankful for," a statement for its rescission reads.
"It is made in the recognition that our motives will be questioned and misunderstood. More importantly, it is made recognising that it will be seen as divisive."
The Uniting Church has banned individual ministers from speaking to the media on their views.
The splinter group wrote they would continue to agitate and possibly leave the denomination unless the Uniting Church reversed the decision to the definition that marriage is just between a man and a woman.
Uniting Church Queensland Synod moderator David Baker said they were working with Newlife on its position and it was the only congregation to so far remove its Uniting Church branding.
"At Newlife, they have done what the assembly wanted them to do and they have expressed their mind on it," Rev Baker said.
"The rebranding was a partial response to the circumstances in the Newlife at the time (as a result of the decision National Assembly's decision to allow ministers to marry same-sex couples)."
He said the church was full of differing views and the decisions being made now were only a small part of the long history of Christianity.
"(The church took) 200 years to decide whether it would allow Christian bankers to charge interests so six-eight years (to decide on same-sex marriage) is not very long and is just a part of the journey for all us in the Uniting Church."
The other authors of the response were Dr Graham Humphris, from Mitcham Hills Uniting Church, Adam Low, from Real Life Uniting Church (formally Logan Uniting Church), Kynan Brookes, from Hope Valley Uniting Church, Glen Schweitzer, from Chapel Hill Uniting Church, Dr Jonathan Davies, from Seeds Uniting Church, Andrew Hogarth, from Journey Uniting Church, and Barry Littleford, from Parafield Gardens Uniting Church.