Pastor behind Canada’s first legal same-sex weddings steps down
The pastor who officiated over Canada’s first ever legal same-sex marriages has delivered his final sermon.
Canadian pastor Reverend Brent Hawkes has for four decades presided over the Metropolitan Community Church.
He was well known for officiating at some of the world’s first same-sex weddings back in 2001, which were later recognised through a court ruling in 2003.
The out gay pastor had married two couples using the Christian tradition of publishing the banns of marriage.
This would have allowed them to get a marriage licence using a legal loophole if their names were read out in church three Sundays in a row.
But the province of Ontario refused to issue the marriage licences and the couples and the church were forced to sue.
Eventually, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled to recognise the rulings, which led to same-sex marriage being legalised across Canada.
Reverend Hawkes delivered his final sermon on Sunday evening, the theme of which was ‘Gifts’.
“The LGBT community, in those early days, had almost no human rights. There was no human rights protection or in legislation,” Hawkes said during the sermon.
The Reverend spoke enthusiastically about his replacement, saying: “It’s time. It’s time for me and it’s time for the church and we’ve chosen a great guy to take over, so the church is going to be in very good hands.”
“I’d like to give thanks to the gift I have been given, to be able to pastor this amazing church and to be a part of this amazing community for the last forty years,” added Reverend Hawkes.
“What we think is the most powerful thing is when people come out. When people come out to family and friends, that changes their hearts and minds,” Hawkes continued.
The Reverend went on to say he hopes to continue working as an activist.
He added: “Most human rights movements have felt a backlash. There are dips and doodles along the way, when you make progress and then you face a backlash.”
The Reverend will officially retire on 28 January.