History was made today as Keswick hosted what is believed to be the first marriage of a same-sex couple in a Quaker meeting house in the UK.

 

Aod and TimTim Pickles of Keswick and Sittichai Pumpo of Bangkok married each other on Saturday 3 May at the Friends Meeting House in Keswick. The marriage took place according to the Quaker marriage procedure and was witnessed by over 60 family members and friends. Tim is an ordained minister and Aod, as Sittichai is known, has a Buddhist practice. Tim commented: “Our faith practices are central to both our lives, and it was particularly important to us to make our declarations in the sacred Presence of the loving Mystery of Life, as well as our many close friends as witnesses.”

At a Quaker wedding there is a large hand-drawn Certificate of Marriage which is signed by all the guests as witnesses. Immediately after the signing, the couple exchanged rings in the garden where an Asian-style blessing was given using holy water brought from the Buddhist temple in Aod’s home village near Chiang Mai. The Star of Siam restaurant then provided a wonderful banquet for all the guests.

According to Quaker tradition, “… the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord only, and not the priests or magistrates; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord’s work and we are but witnesses.” (George Fox, 1669). This statement of belief was particularly relevant for this marriage.

The marriage took place following the introduction of the new legislation on 29 March 2014.  Most same-sex weddings since then have been civil marriages and so far the Quakers and Unitarians are the only religious groups to have adopted these new provisions for conducting sacred marriages. 

It had taken nearly a year to prepare and obtain the necessary settlement visa for Sittichai (known as Aod) and to complete the licence application.