LOVED-UP Jeffrey Rodgers and Paul Lanceley tie the knot in Sunderland’s first gay church wedding.
The pair had the nuptials of their dreams after St George’s Church, in Stockton Road, agreed to bless their civil partnership.
Despite both suffering heart attacks last year – with Jeffrey, 58, undergoing a quadruple bypass – they ploughed their efforts into being able to have the same church service as a man and woman.
They thought all was lost after being turned down by 50 churches, but the Reverend Peter Jordan at the United Reformed Church (URC) championed their cause with his congregation, which voted in favour of the wedding taking place.
In keeping with civil partnership regulations, the couple signed the marriage register at Sunderland Civic Centre before the blessing at St George’s, and a lavish reception at The Sea Hotel in South Shields.
Jeffrey, of Roker, said: “I used to work as a wedding co-ordinator and have seen so many brides walk down the aisle.
“I never thought it would be possible to do that, but the reverend has made our dream come true.
“I did not ask to be born this way. I was born this way. I wanted to get married in the eyes of God and in his house.
“People say there is no place like home and in God’s house, when he looked down on me, I felt very, very secure.”
Reverend Peter Jordan said: “After Jeffrey and Paul approached us we discussed the application at a church meeting where everyone was overwhelmingly in favour.
“These sort of blessings vary from one denomination to another, but in the URC it’s up to the local congregation to decide.
“I think this service is very exciting. It’s a great step forward.”