South Carolina church will now marry same-sex couples

Now that a federal judge has struck down South Carolina's ban on marriage equality, Reformation Lutheran Church of Columbia, South Carolina has shared that same-sex couples are now officially included in their church wedding policy.

Reformation has long been known for its support and commitment to the LGBT community. In 2009, it was presented with Community Partner of the Year Award by the South Carolina Pride Movement. The same year, the Columbia, South Carolina church officially became a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Congregation, a network which advocates for full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church and congregations.

The revised policy, which allows same-gender couples to marry in the Earlewood Park church, aligns with a 2009 church-wide policy which states that a pastor may preside over a same-gender marriage where it is not prohibited by civil law. In the past five years, Pastor Tim Bupp has performed wedding ceremonies out-of-state. Also, of Reformation's nearly 250 church members, 10 same-gender couples have married out-of-state.


 

In Reformation's November 19 news release, Bupp states:

"The decision to lift the ban on same-gender marriages in our state is long overdue. It's a move in the right direction and supports our congregation's commitment to all of God's children. When we now say 'all are welcome', we mean it in every aspect and it feels great. Inclusiveness is an integral part of our mission. When the church decided to become Reconciling in Christ (RIC) in 2009, it was a bold move and one we continue to support. It only makes sense that we would update our wedding policy."

According to Julia Prater, president of Reformation's Church Council, revision of the wedding policy was not only consistent with the church's mission and ministry, but unanimously approved by Church Council. She remarks, "Many of our members have traveled to other states to share the joy of legal marriage. We celebrate the fact that all of our members can fully celebrate their weddings in their own home church."

Although Reformation Lutheran Church has been a longtime supporter of the LGBT community, this particular policy change, on the heels of statewide change, is vital. It sends the message that LGBT equality and faith go hand-in-hand with community and inclusivity. By making this change, Reformation stands as a shining example for other faith-based institutions in the south and the country at large.