“We could get married!”
The loss of birthday plans because of COVID-19 led to Hamiton Uniting Church’s first same-gender marriage service.
Victor Moymow and Keith Hayden are both members of Hamilton Uniting Church. When discussing the loss of a planned Cruise to celebrate Keith’s 70th birthday, the ‘what will we do?” question came up. Victor suggested, “we could get married!”
Victor told Insights that, “for both of us, it was the happiest day of our lives, with the atmosphere of the church and being surrounded by family and friends, we were still a little high a week or so later.”
As of September 2020, the couple has been together for 40 years, having met at Metropolitan Community Church, which worshipped at Paddington Uniting Church at the time.
Since then, they have been involved with five different Uniting Church congregations: Paddington, Blackheath, Leura, The Willows at Warners Bay, and now Hamilton.
“Keith turned 70 that day which is main reason that day was chosen,” Victor said.
“The second reason is that it was three years to the day of the legislation of marriage equality. We had talked about getting married but not seriously until Keith’s sister asked how we were celebrating Keith’s 70th and to keep it short, the rest is history.”
The wedding ceremony had multiple ministers involved, with Rev. Dr Rod Pattenden preaching, Rev. Rob Hanks doing a Bible reading, and Rev. Christine Sheppard officiating.
Rev. Hanks said that the couple are very active in volunteering.
“Victor plays the Pipe Organ for Worship and both of them volunteer on Tuesdays in our Bill’s Place Cafe and Op Shop open 9.30am to 2.30pm weekdays,” Rev. Hanks said.
“Keith has recently taken on Coordinating Morning Tea since its return and inclusion in our COVID safe plans.”
“During Rev. Christine Sheppard’s Supply here at Hamilton a way back both Victor and Keith were attending worship here and at ’The Willows’ North lake Macquarie but were moved by something Christine preached about what ’time’ this was and Victor explained it was relevant to them about settling in this congregation, hence the invitation to officiate.”
“Rev. Dr Chris Budden was their Minister at The Willows previously but was unable to attend on the day, so Rev. Dr Rod Pattenden, who they’d known from Paddington Uniting Church days, spoke quite brilliantly on the occasion, about how this day/moment/service celebrated their opportunity to be who they truly are, to be themselves ‘in their own skin.’”
The wedding was attended by friends from beyond the church, family, and volunteers from the couple’s voluntary work at Heritage listed ‘Miss Porter’s House’ in Newcastle.
“Many spoke of how wonderful the wedding was, the spirit and sense of place and how they were so impressed with the feeling, genuineness and spirited nature of the wedding, they didn’t expect to feel so moved ‘in a church.,” Rev. Hanks said.
“We believe it was the first same gender wedding (at least in a church) in the Uniting Church in the Hunter Presbytery.”
“The congregation were thrilled at this event and its sign of inclusion and celebration and warmly received the idea and the event, turning up in numbers, COVID safe of course.”
Under a proposal agreed to by the 2018 Assembly meeting, Uniting Church ministers can choose to officiate same-gender weddings. Church property can also be used for these services, if Church councils agree.