Church first in borough to host same sex marriages (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Leytonstone United Free Church has become the first in Waltham Forest to say 'I do' to same sex marriages
A Leytonstone church will become the first in Waltham Forest to host same-sex marriages.
The United Free Church, in Wallwood Road, Leytonstone, is one of just thirty in the UK which has agreed to support the new legislation.
After consulting members of the two denominations which worship at the church through an ecumenical partnership, the church leaders held a vote.
Church councillor Amy Willishire said there was wide approval for the move.
She said: “The decision was made on September 13 last year but it was a long process.
“We had a vote which, other than two abstentions was unanimous in support.
“We are a church that is very accepting of lots of different people.
"We didn’t want to say ‘maybe later’ or ‘if it comes up’ we are saying that we are open to this and we do accept all people.”
The church, which was formed with the joining of Fillebrook Baptist Church and Leytonstone United Reform Chuch in 1979, has been approached by one couple who would like to be married but they cannot do so at the moment as they are already in a civil partnership.
Before the decision was made, the Baptist Union removed the restriction against their church allowing same sex weddings.
It was confirmed the church can now marry same sex couples at the weekend.
Reverend Alison Mackay, who will marry the couples, said with the church’s ethos of acceptance for all, it was an easy choice.
She said: “It is about the spirit of inclusion.
“We are a church that welcomes everyone so it was a natural decision. We believe that God’s love is for everyone.”
Other church denominations are expected to make a decision over whether or not they will support gay marriage in their churches at their annual general meetings this year.
The first same sex marriages took place in the UK on March 29 after legislation was passed in July 2013.
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