A few weeks ago we reported on the self-publicised plan of Bendigo Cathedral priest to enter into a same-sex marriage.

The Bendigo Advertiser reported on the actual marriage itself.

Drew Reid and Father Noel Richards have become the first same-sex couple to be married in a Bendigo church.

The couple said ‘I do’ in front of family and friends at St Andrew’s Uniting Church in Bendigo on Saturday.

“It has been a fabulous day,” Drew said. “The love is just overwhelming. We’re just gobsmacked.”

The full church applauded loudly as the couple said their vows and were announced as husbands. Even a malfunctioning microphone couldn’t damper spirits. 

“It was just so wonderful,” Father Noel said. “I thought I would be a blubbering idiot. But everyone was so terrific and there wasn’t any time for blubbering.”

“Australia said yes and so did we,” Drew said. 

The Advertiser also has a video of part of the ceremony.

The marriage will dramatically raise tensions over the issue in the Diocese of Bendigo:

While Father Noel has been an ordained priest of the Anglican Church for more than 40 years, the couple were unable to be married at St Paul’s Cathedral in Bendigo. 

Despite that setback, Drew told the Bendigo Advertiser last month the support from the people of St Paul’s was undeniable.

“The congregation has just loved Noel and when they heard about our relationship they were just really excited for us,” Drew said.

Bishop Matt Brain is quoted in the piece:

The Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta voted 67-18 in favour of the blessings, but the historic decision is now being challenged by the Anglican Church of Australia.

Regardless of the legal outcome, Anglican Diocese of Bendigo Bishop Matt Brain indicated a similar change to allow blessings of same-sex marriages would not be happening in his diocese.

But Bishop Brain said the church would continue to support every parishioner regardless of their sexuality.

Noel Richards is not a parishioner but a licensed priest at the Cathedral in Bendigo. As we reported previously, this action will now put him in clear breach of the requirements of Faithfulness in Service

7.1 The sexual conduct of clergy and church workers has a significant impact on the Church and the community.
7.2 Sexuality is a gift from God and is integral to human nature. It is appropriate for clergy and church workers to value this gift, taking responsibility for their sexual conduct by maintaining chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.

Standards for clergy and church workers
These standards state the Church’s expectations for personal behaviour and the practice of pastoral ministry.
7.4 You are to be chaste and not engage in sex outside of marriage and not engage in disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature.

All eyes will now turn to what action Bishop Brain will take in the problem that Noel Richards has forced upon him. He has previously told davidould.net:

I am not going to telegraph any discussions, let alone disciplinary matters via the media.

image: Bendigo Advertiser

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20 comments on “Bendigo Cathedral Priest Enters Same-Sex Marriage

  1. In the headline the words “same-sex” are used. Who, apart from the two people married, would be aware of their “sex”? Or is the correct term “gender”?
    Would it be impertinent to comment on the gender or “sex” of two people married under the Marriage Act 1961 (amended 2017)?
    Would it be equally impertinent to ask about their “conduct of a sexual nature” provided their conduct was within the laws as applied to the State of Australia in which they live?
    Thank you.

    • hi Blair. I’ll try and answer your questions in turn.
      Just by looking at the two men you can tell that their sex is male. I realise for some that’s an incredibly politically incorrect thing to say but I’ll stick with the science. Their visible presentation indicates almost certainly that they possess one X and one Y chromosome. You could use the word “gender” instead if you like but either way they’re both male/men/he/him etc.
      Likewise, the person in the middle is clearly a women.
      It’s not impertinent to comment on that simple fact because one of them is a licensed priest in the Diocese of Bendigo who is not only knowingly breaking church law and doctrine but is also seeking publicity in doing so. Much like another couple of men in Wangaratta who also sought much publicity. If you go to the newspapers and want them to photograph you and write about you then you’ve declared the action public.
      That’s also why it’s not impertinent to ask about their sexual conduct and activity. It is incredibly pertinent.

  2. This all breaks my heart. Why would they want to so dramatically abandon Christ and the Anglican church? And why would the bishop of Bendigo allow this to happen? I’ll keep praying for all involved to find the grace filled God of the Bible, where Christ died to wash, sanctify and justify us who trust in such a God (1 Cor 6:9-11).

  3. Hi David, curious as to which of the following is said to have been breached? 🙂

    7.1 The sexual conduct of clergy and church workers has a significant impact on the Church and the community.
    7.2 Sexuality is a gift from God and is integral to human nature. It is appropriate for clergy and church workers to value this gift, taking responsibility for their sexual conduct by maintaining chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.

    Standards for clergy and church workers
    These standards state the Church’s expectations for personal behaviour and the practice of pastoral ministry.
    7.4 You are to be chaste and not engage in sex outside of marriage and not engage in disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature.

  4. Perhaps inadvertently, DO’s posting is a little light on the status of the marriage described. The Uniting Church has, since the law changed in 2017, developed a liturgy for marrying same-sex couples in combined civil (legal) & religious ceremonies. i.e. the officiating minister authenticates the legal marriage by co-signing the marriage certificates with the betrothed & the witnesses. I am not aware of another Christian denomination in Australia having such a liturgy. It appears there are a number of Anglican dioceses pushing for church blessings of same-same couples who have married civilly. If they succeed in that, I guess their next move will be a push to emulate the UCA by writing a liturgy for marrying same-sex couples in church.

  5. Opposition to normalizing homosexuality in the Church can not be made simply on the basis of the Christian doctrine of marriage. This is to beg the question at issue. The argument that has to be made is that homosexuality constitutes disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature along with fornication, incest, and adultery. That the parties may be in love with each other and/or committed to each other on a more or less permanent basis is not sufficient to cut the mustard, whereas the recent amendment of Marriage Act 1961 is beside the point.

  6. I agree completely & I am sure that is how the responsible ACA body will approach the subject. (If they ever get around to it). My point is, it is only since the Marriage Act was changed that demands for blessing services or a new liturgy for SSM ceremonies have emerged within the Anglican communion. The two Wangaratta priests have used the hiatus provided by the Church’s paralysis to marry each other civilly. The Bendigo priest & his betrothed have used the hiatus to marry each other civilly and religiously, albeit not in an Anglican church.

    IF the three have their day in an ecclesiastical court they will doubtless claim that as the Church did nothing to stop its priests using a Marriage Act which authorises SSM, they saw nothing wrong in their own use of it.

    • According to The Border Mail dated 13 November, the Wangaratta diocese will argue before the appellate tribunal inter alia that “because there was no authority from the church on the issue, “it was open to Wangaratta to legislate on the question””.

  7. According to The Border Mail dated 13 November, the Wangaratta diocese will argue before the appellate tribunal inter alia that “because there was no authority from the church on the issue, “it was open to Wangaratta to legislate on the question”.

  8. Exactly the point I made 10 days ago. i.e. if the priests who have married in civil ceremonies ever face an ecclesiastical court they will claim that, as the church did nothing to stop its ministers from using a Marriage Act which authorises same-sex marriage, they saw nothing wrong in using it themselves. Now a newspaper reports the Wangaratta diocese will claim it was ok to vote in favour of blessing same-sex marriages because there was no authority from the ACA on the issue.

    The ACA leadership have done nothing since the Act changed in 2017 to insist its ministers offer stand-alone Holy Matrimony & to not participate in combined sacramental/civil ceremonies.

    The birds are coming home to roost.

  9. Yes, Linda, it is exactly the point you made, and that is why I cited The Border Mail. The responsibility lies foremost with Archbishop Freier, who is deftly handling the matter so that the Church will dutifully mirror the values of secular society. This is in perfect keeping with traditional Anglican practice; however you would expect a Christian leader to at least understand that the sacrament of marriage is not reducible to a social question.

    I note that The Border Mail also reports that Wangaratta will make submissions before the Tribunal to the effect that “the church cannot ignore “300 years of scientific investigation and discovery””. This is a favourite argument of the sceptic, John Parkes. It is pitifully vague, but insofar as it suggests the absurd notion that science has supposedly refuted the teaching of Christ, it reveals the unbelief which is the root cause of his behavior.

  10. I agree with every word in your post above Chris. The ACA community must await the Appellate Tribunal’s finding on Wangaratta’s push for clerical blessings of civil same-sex marriages. Not forgetting it was Archbishop Freier who referred the matter to the Tribunal. We shall then see if the creeping secularism you describe has spread even to the Church’s appellate processes.

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