In August 2015, Rawtenstall Unitarian Church became the first place of worship in the Burnley-Rossendale area to be given permission to conduct same-sex weddings, under recent legislation.
The news attracted wide publicity, with Rev Jim Corrigall (Minister for Padiham and Rawtenstall Unitarian churches and for the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry) being interviewed live on BBC Radio Lancashire in late August. There were news stories in the Rossendale Free Press and the Lancashire Telegraph, and coverage on a local commercial radio station, 2BR.
Jim Corrigall said he was delighted the Church could now offer all couples the right to marry. “We Unitarians have played a leading role in campaigns for equal marriage, alongside the Quakers and Liberal Jews. Unitarians have always championed tolerance and social justice. We’ve had women ministers for more than 100 years, and we’ve been performing blessings for same-sex couples for more than 30 years.”
“We have a beautiful setting for weddings in the centre of Rawtenstall. You do not have to be a Unitarian to be married in our churches, and we aim to include words, music and rituals in the ceremony that have meaning for each couple.”
Legislation to allow equal marriage came into effect in 2014 in England, Wales and Scotland. By the end of August 2015, more than 30 Unitarian churches and chapels had been given permission to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies.