Presbyterian minister at odds with church over gay marriage

Rev Christine Bradley of Armagh Road Presbyterian Church, Portadown
Rev Christine Bradley of Armagh Road Presbyterian Church, Portadown

A Presbyterian minister’s outspoken support for same-sex marriage has put her on a collision course with church authorities.

Rev Christina Bradley from Portadown said welcomes the ‘yes’ vote in the Republic’s referendum last week – saying everyone should be treated the same “whatever their sexual orientation”.

Following the historic outcome of the poll, which will now change the constitution south of the border, the Presbyterian Church said it was “deeply disappointed and saddened” that the constitution will “no longer reflect the historic – and Christian - view of marriage that it is exclusively between one man and one woman; the position the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) upholds and maintains”.

Giving her personal view on the result, Rev Bradley added: “This warm-heartedness is good to see in a world which often is a cold place as much for women in leadership as it is for gay and lesbian people in churches. I welcome the yes vote.”

In 2013, justice minister David Ford stepped down as a Presbyterian elder in Co Antrim while church authorities investigated his views on gay marriage.

German-born Rev Bradley, who is the minister of Armagh Road Presbyterian, added: “The referendum wasn’t a debate on the institution of marriage as the basis of human society as we know it, but about ending discrimination. The people [of the Republic] have voted by an overwhelming 62.1 per cent majority to be inclusive and compassionate,” she told the Portadown Times.

Back in 2007, Rev Bradley was embroiled in another church row when the male clergyman of the First Portadown Presbyterian said he was not prepared to share a pulpit with his female colleague from the Armagh Road.

Rev Stafford Carson’s refusal ended a 60-year tradition of a Christmas service involving both churches. At the time, he said it was “nothing personal,” and added: “I have difficulties of conscience with the ordination of women, based on the Letters of Saint Paul in the New Testament”.

Last night, a spokesman for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said its position was clear: “We uphold the historic – and Christian – view of marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman’ and any change would be seen as ‘a redefinition of marriage.’

“Following the result itself, the Very Rev Dr Norman Hamilton, Convener of the Church’s Council for Church in Society, stated publicly that while saddened and disappointed by the result, which would be a significant change for Irish Society, ‘as a Church we will continue to reach out to all people, whatever their situation, as all are equally welcome.’”