Saskatchewan

Mennonite pastors hope first gay wedding will lead to more

Retzlaff and Preheim both hope their actions will start conversations with other congregations.

Saskatoon Pastors Patrick Preheim and Anita Retzlaff performed the first Mennonite same-sex marriage in Canada

Craig Friesen, left, and Matt Wiens, right, were married on New Year's Eve in the Mennonite faith, a first for Mennonite churches in Canada. (Rachel Bergen/CBC News)

It was a beautiful ceremony, but it was also a landmark ceremony when Matt Wiens and Craig Friesen were married in Saskatoon this New Year's Eve. 

The men were the first gay couple married in the Mennonite faith in Canada.

"It's more significant than we even realize," said Rachel Loewen Walker, and LGBT advocate and friend of the couple. 

"I think it will show that same-sex and trans couples ... can get married in these spaces and that nothing bad happens. It's a wonderful celebration of love," she said.

For the two pastors who performed the ceremony, it was a milestone. The wedding followed a 15 year discussion within the congregation about same-sex marriage. It was only last year the governing body for Saskatchewan's Mennonite churches decided to allow congregations to decide on their own if they would welcome same-sex marriage. 

And according to Patrick Preheim, one of the pastors, their decision came about because Weins and Friesen asked.

"That's important, that's significant for two individuals who have experienced in their lifetime, seen discrimination within the church, to come to their church body and say 'would you be willing to be a part of our service?'" he said.

His co-pastor, Anita Retzlaff agreed. 

"I'm left with a great sense of joy and excitement. It was a wonderful celebration," she told CBC News. 

Retzlaff and Preheim both hope their actions will start conversations with other congregations, so that LGTB Mennonites won't have to choose between their faith and the one they love. 

with files from CBC's Steve Pasqualotto and Rachel Bergen

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