|Craig Friesen, left, and Matt Wiens, right, were married by the pastors of Nutana Mennonite Church (where they currently attend) in Osler Mennonite Church, the church Friesen grew up attending. (Rachel Bergen/CBC News)|
New Year's Eve is a special time for many, and for Craig Friesen and Matt Wiens, it was especially meaningful.
The Saskatoon couple was married on Dec. 31 in Osler, Sask., in the presence of family, friends and the church community.
The men's wedding marks a point in history for the Mennonite denomination in Canada. Friesen and Wiens are the first same-sex couple publicly married in a Canadian Mennonite church.
"Our relationship doesn't feel different, but our relationship with our community and with our faith has changed at least a little bit. It was really beautiful and freeing," Friesen said.
Friesen and Wiens are hopeful other LGBT Mennonites will learn from their example that they don't have to choose between their faith and their sexuality.
"Historically, the church has been oppressive to the queer community," Wiens said.
One step forward
For Wiens and Friesen, it was important to have a Mennonite wedding, because it was the faith the men grew up in.
"For us, a wedding is supposed to be a celebration of our commitment to each other in front of our faith communities, our other communities and God," Friesen said.
"It wouldn't feel right if we didn't get married in the Mennonite church," he added.
Mennonite Church Canada as a denomination isn't publicly welcoming of LGBT people or affirming of same-sex marriage. The denomination's confession of faith states that marriage is between a man and a woman for life.
Last year, however, the governing body in Saskatchewan announced that congregations could decide on their own whether or not they would be welcoming and the church would not take action against it. This was decided, in part, to keep some congregations from leaving the denomination.
Friesen and Wiens attend Nutana Park Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, which has been publicly inclusive of the LGBT community for three years.
Co-pastors Anita Retzlaff and Patrick Preheim married the couple in the church Friesen grew up in, Osler Mennonite, combining both the church communities that mean so much to them.
It was a bold move for the two pastors, who said there are vocal Mennonite congregations across the country that don't agree with gay marriage.