04 July 2018

Report on Marriage and Relationships

The Marriage and Relationships Task Group has delivered an interim report to the Methodist Conference, the governing body of the Methodist Church, which is meeting in Nottingham. The Conference agreed a change to the way in which the Task Group will complete its work.

After discussion of issues raised by the draft report in workshops and long and respectful debate on the floor of the Conference, the Task Group will now produce a further report containing a number of key theological arguments and recommendations. 

This report will be delivered at the 2019 Conference and, subject to acceptance, will be referred to the District Synods of the Church for a year-long process of consideration and approval. 

The 2020 Conference will then make a final decision, with any provision implemented with immediate effect. None of this prevents a longer and more detailed Conference Statement being presented at a later stage.

Local churches, circuits and individual members are being encouraged to feed in their opinions about this work through their Synods.

A video from the Methodist Conference featuring a presentation by members of the Task Group with different perspectives that took place on Monday 2 July is available here to help these discussions.

The Conference was also reminded about the Model Statement for Living with Contrary Convictions from the 2016 Conference. 
 
Chair of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group, and former President of the Conference, the Revd Kenneth G Howcroft, said: “The group’s task is great while its timetable is short. The group has worked with commitment since the 2016 Conference and has engaged in a lot of thinking, praying, research and writing.”
  
The report observes that: “As with all matters of policy, any recommendations should be based on prayerful discernment; careful reading, interpretation and application of the Scriptures; and rigorous thinking. We have come to see that the key aspect in all relationships is the Christ-like quality of the way in which people relate.”

Living with Contradictory Convictions

Included in the report to the 2016 Conference by the previous Marriage and Relationships Task Group.

We continue to believe that God has been revealed in Jesus Christ, accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and live in communion with God and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We cherish our place within Christ's Church recognising that it is Christ alone who chooses, calls and confirms us as members of His church, the body of Christ. 

Whilst we may not all agree about everything, we recognise the importance of the truths which bind us together as well as the issues which currently divide us.

Therefore, we resolve:

  • To engage with each other openly, honestly, prayerfully and graciously
  • To treat each other with respect and dignity, recognising the sincerity of the faith of those who may see things differently
  • To seek to learn from one another as we travel together as fellow pilgrims
  • To renounce all language and behaviours that attempt to coerce others to change their views or beliefs
  • To seek, as far as conscience allows, to preserve the fellowship of Christ's Church
  • To unite under the authority of scripture as we seek live as authentic Christian disciples in our own generation

An extract from “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection” by John Wesley

There is no love of God without patience, and no patience without lowliness and sweetness of spirit. Humility and patience are the surest proof of the increase of love. Humility alone unites patience with love… God is the first object of our love: its next office is, to bear the defects of others. And we should begin the practice of this amidst our own household. We should chiefly exercise our love towards them who most shock either our way of thinking, or our temper, or our knowledge, or the desire we have that others should be as virtuous as we wish to be ourselves.

A prayer

Merciful God,
help us to speak in love what is in our minds,
and to hear in love what is said by others;
to feel in love what is in our hearts,
and to sense in love what is in the hearts of others;
to confer in love to discern your truth,
and to be open in love to your guiding Spirit.
Through our disagreements guide us;
in our agreements direct us.
Together may we share the mind of Christ,
In whose name we pray…
Our Father…

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