Rector: ‘I would marry same-sex couples if I could’
THE new rector of St Mary’s Parish Church says he would not hesitate to marry couples from the LGBT community if same-sex marriage was permitted by Canon law.
And the Rev Canon Tim Neill insisted it was surely a question of when – not if – the Church of England will change its rules to allow same-sex marriages to take place within its places of worship.
Asked whether the Church should change its laws to allow couples of the same sex to marry, he said: ‘When you join the Church, you join an institution.
‘For me personally, if I didn’t have the institution of the Church – which I have to obey – and a same-sex couple came into St Mary’s Parish Church and said, “Tim, will you marry us?”, I would.
‘[The change to Canon law] is going to happen – it has to happen – although when it will happen I don’t know.’
Zimbabwean-born Mr Neill, who settled in the Island in 2006 with his Jersey-born wife Carol Neill (née Treussard), added: ‘I believe the church has gone wrong in its historical attitudes towards homosexual, LGBT people.
‘They are humans just like all of us and therefore they are not outside God’s grace. We have to find ways of bringing them into church and affirming them.’
Mr Neill, who was inducted into the part-time post of rector of St Mary’s Parish Church by the Dean of Jersey, the Very Rev Mike Keirle, on 15 February this year, said he and his wife had received ‘a lovely warm welcome’, both at the parish level and at the civic level.
‘I think it helps that my wife grew up here in St Mary,’ added Mr Neill, who previously preached fortnightly at St Ouen, where the couple used to live.
The 65-year-old, who spent many years ministering in Zimbabwe during despot Robert Mugabe’s regime – where he survived attempts on his life – has been tasked by the church to bring more young people from St Mary through its doors.
‘Fundamentally, for people to come to church it has to be fun,’ he said. ‘Whether it’s a parish barbecue or a sermon, church must be worth getting out of bed for.