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love and equal marriage logoA Winchmore Hill church is all set to become a local pioneer in conducting marriage services equally for all couples, whether gay or straight. Or would be, if it weren't lacking an important item of furniture - a safe that meets the specifications required for weddings.

Winchmore Hill United Reformed Church in Compton Road has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £800 cost of replacing its safe, which was damaged during an attempted theft and when it was moved for redecoration. Normally, this amount wouldn't be a problem, but the timing is difficult for the congregation as improvement works they are currently carrying out on their premises has left them rather strapped for cash.

Rev Melanie Smith, the minister at the church, says she believes that same-sex couples and their families are blessings to their communities:

"We believe in a church and a community that welcomes all. We believe that it is right for those who would want to, to be able to embark on a new life together celebrating God’s blessings on them at a church wedding. It is such a shame that the only thing that is stopping us from holding equal marriages is that our safe is broken. We’re already trying to raise funds to improve our facilities for the community, so cash is tight for us.

"We have a strong sense that folk in our community would love to be able to see our church host equal marriage and will be willing to help us achieve our fundraising target."

Winchmore Hill URC would be the first church in the borough belonging to a mainstream Christian denomination able to conduct equal marriage ceremonies.

Donations can be made through www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/loveandequalmarriage. Any funds in excess of what is required for the safe would be used for their improvement works, such as rebuilding the toilet block so that each cubicle is private and can be used by any gender, as well as green initiatives.

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