update 22 October 2019: Lisa Ahuja is no longer licensed in the Diocese of Perth. It appears that she carried out this blessing shortly after the end of her license upon leaving her position at Perth College.
davidould.net has obtained the full video of a same-sex blessing performed by a priest licensed in the Diocese of Perth. The blessing was held at the non-denominational Little Bay Chapel on the Sydney Coast.
The Priest who performed the ceremony on Tuesday 8 October is formerly Perth-based Lisa Ahuja, an American who originally served in the Episcopal Church from where she moved to Australia in 2015. Until recently she was listed as the chaplain of Perth College, a position that she began in January 2018.
We have taken the decision not to publish the full video since it contains footage of a minor who appears to be the adopted child of the couple in the ceremony.
The ceremony itself contained the following elements:
- A Processional
- A introduction where Ahuja declares that “we have come together to celebrate their marriage”.
- Bible readings. John 15:9-17, 1Cor. 13:1-13
- A bi-lingual reading of the couple’s “story”
- A prepared statement by the couple’s adopted child
- An exchange of vows
- A prayer over and exchange of rings
- A presentation of gifts to the couple (a statue of one of the couple’s “patron saint”)
- The signing of what was described as a “wedding certificate”
- Prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer spoken in a number of languages, for the marriage
- A Recessional
There was no declaration of marriage made at any stage but Ahuja does refer to the ceremony on a number of occasions as a “marriage” or “wedding”. It does not therefore appear to be a legal marriage ceremony (nor is Ahuja, as a celebrant recognised as a licensed minister in the Anglican Church of Australia, registered nor permitted to perform such a ceremony). It was however treated as such by Ahuja and all those present.
The conducting of this ceremony is another clear breach of the Anglican Church of Australia’s bishops’ agreed moratorium on such actions until Constitutional clarity has been established on the topic.
Clergy are also expected to seek the permission of the local bishop when intending to perform ceremonial duties in a diocese where they are non-resident. I understand that no such request was made to the Diocese of Sydney.
We have asked the Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy, for comment.