First same sex couple wed at place of worship in Derbyshire

27 August 2016

Today (August 27) will go down in history as the first same-sex couple tied the knot at a place of worship in Derbyshire.

Field Row Unitarian Chapel is the first place of worship in Derbyshire and Amber Valley to be registered for same-sex marriage.

And today marked the first wedding to take place at the Field Row Unitarian Chapel in Belper, between Helen Barley and Sarah McMullen.

Kedleston campus looking towards the library

Sarah, who is the Programme Lead for BA (Hons) Working with Young People and Communities at the University of Derby, said: “I have worked at the University for over ten years, where I have been supported unconditionally as an openly gay member of staff.

“This positive experience is one that I value deeply as it has not only benefitted me, but it has also influenced other members of staff and students to feel 'okay' about coming out at University - which is brilliant.”

Sarah and Helen added: “We both come from very strong faith back grounds (Anglican and Methodist). Over the last nine years, our relationship has grown through and with our faith and consequently the marriage ceremony for us has always needed to have God at the heart of the promises we make to each other.

“We have been welcomed as a couple, unreservedly by the Unitarian community in Belper and are delighted that we were able to marry each other in the Unitarian Chapel, surrounded by our family and friends within the community that we are a part of.”

Christina Smith, Chief Community Cultivator at Derby Unity, was the celebrant at the service with contributions Rev. Cedric Blakie and the Rev. Colin Matthews, both of whom are from other faith denominations.

Christine said: “I am delighted to have been the celebrant for Helen and Sarah’s special day. It has been my honour and privilege to work with them to create a personal and meaningful ceremony that reflects both their commitment to each other and their Christian faith.”

The University of Derby lent Sarah and Helen their rainbow flag, which is a symbol of LGBT social movements, to fly at their reception venue.