Lindsey Allardice and Kiera Pearson are first same-sex couple to marry at Bank Street Unitarian Chapel, Bolton

By Nick Statham

Local Democracy Reporter

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A MINISTER has married a same-sex couple at his church for the first time in a touching ceremony.

Lindsey Allardice and Kiera Pierson tied the knot at Bank Street Unitarian Chapel this afternoon in front of their friends and family.

The pair, who are both committed Christians, made their vows in a service conducted by church minister Stephen Lingwood.

After saying their vows and signing the marriage register the happy couple, from Bury Road, Tonge Fold, posed for their wedding photos outside the church, before heading off for a reception at The Last Drop in Bromley Cross.

The Bolton News understands that only one previous same sex marriage and one civil partnership conversion have previously taken place in churches in the borough.

Same-sex marriages have been legal since an act of Parliament in 2013.

Lindsey, aged 38, and 28-year-old Kiera met at Audacious Churchand said they were ‘very happy’ to have been able to say ‘I do’ in church.

Lindsey, who runs a restaurant in Little Lever, said: “It was very important to us, really, because we met in God’s house – Audacious Church in Manchester - and wanted to commit to each other in God’s house.

Kiera said it was a proud day as well as a happy one for the couple.

And she added that it felt ‘good’ to be newly weds, but they had not yet decided where they would be going on honeymoon.

Mr Lingwood said it had been a privilege to marry the pair.

He said: “It was lovely. It was very ordinary in some ways, but wonderful in others. Personally I have been campaigning for same-sex marriage for the last 15 years.

“I was in the States for the first years happening there in Massachusetts, so to finally get to the day of doing it in my church is a great culmination of a journey.”

Mr Lingwood added: “It’s been a journey we have been through as a congregation. I have thought about it during my ministry and we decided we did want to have same-sex marriages and applied for a licence.

“It’s important because of equality – and we believe in equality – we believe in the sacred worth of every person.

“We believe all relationships are equally sacred whether they are between people of different sexes or of the same sex.

“God the divine is equally present in all. We were celebrating a couple who have faith. It was important to them and important to us to have that marriage and celebration of their loving relationship in sight of God.”