Some might say the journey towards equality for ordination in the church for people in same sex relationship has been a long and arduous one. And in many countries today, that journey remains very difficult as nations continue to grapple with homophobia and discrimination against people who are same sex attracted.
The Australian journey has in many ways been a much easier road than it has in other parts of the world. Community of Christ, in Australia, has always had a high level of support and acceptance towards lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people.
When the Open Door first began in 1999, it was with the blessing of the then Mission (or Region) president, Matt Naylor. As the Open Door grew, other congregations around the mission extended love, friendship and ministry.
At the Australia Mission Centre Conference on June 7th 2008 140 delegates from around Australia unanimously approved the following resolution presented by the Open Door.
AMCC 2008-1 Sexual Orientation and Ordination
WHEREAS the world views on sexual orientation are very diverse and
WHEREAS in some countries diversity of sexual orientation is not even acknowledged, let alone discussed, and
WHEREAS all are called according to the gifts of God unto them, and
WHEREAS we uphold ordination as a call by God with the common consent of the church in that jurisdiction, and
WHEREAS in some parts of the world there are congregations comprised primarily of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and transexual people, and
WHEREAS there is very little hope at this time of getting complete agreement on a world wide level on the issue of sexual orientation and ordination, be it
RESOLVED this matter be referred to the Australia Mission Centre Presidency for the purpose of arranging discussion and dialogue within the Australia Mission Centre, that the Australia Mission Centre be given time for prayerful consideration of this matter and be it further
RESOLVED that a resolution on this matter be presented to the 2009 Australia Special Mission Centre Conference to be voted upon and if approved then be it further
RESOLVED that a resolution be presented to the 2010 World Conference, calling for the principle of self determination to guide Mission Centres in the matter of sexual orientation and ordination.
We were thrilled with this result and waited to see this legislation be brought to the 2010 Community of Christ World Conference. It would be at the 2010 World Conference that the world wide membership of the church would consider and vote on this motion. We were proud of the Australian Mission Centre for taking us one step closer to bringing equality to the church regarding the ordination of those who have been called by God and who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
At the 2010 World Conference, approval was given for a process involving National Conferences to convene in Mission Centers around the world. The purpose of the National Conference would be to give each jurisdiction the ability to vote for ordination of people in same sex relationship.
The Australian Mission Center Presidency allocated a two year 'broader dialogue' period with a National Conference to be held in June 2012.
In June 2012 the Australian National conference voted overwhelmingly in favour on the legislation to uphold ordination for same sex members of the church.
It was another twelve months before the policy was written for ordinations of same sex couples to be permitted.
In the meantime, the Open Door congregation continued to grow in understanding of what priesthood actually is, who and how people are called to priesthood, and how priesthood brings added blessing of God's spirit into our lives.
God indeed has blessed our journey and on April 6th, 2014, the Open Door will hold its first ordination service. Five people are to be ordained. Lesley to deacon, Matt to priest, Liz to priest, Rob to elder and Trish to elder. A lot of prayerful preparation, training and education has been the focus over the past several months for our ordinands, and we look forward now with elation and joy as God adds blessing through these willing disciples who have raised their hands to say 'Here Am I Lord, Send Me'.