Methodist Conference receives report on same-sex marriage

  • Photo of Susan Howdle presenting the report to the Conference here

The Methodist Church has committed to a two year period of listening, reflecting and discernment following the legislation of same-sex marriage in England, Wales and Scotland earlier this year. A report exploring the issues around same-sex marriage was brought by a working party to the Methodist Conference meeting today in Birmingham.

The Methodist Church, in line with scripture and traditional teaching, believes that marriage is a gift of God and that it is God's intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman. The Methodist Conference did not vote on changing this understanding, or 'opting in' so as to permit Methodist Church buildings to be registered for same-sex marriage ceremonies or Methodist ministers to be authorised to conduct them.

The Conference resolved that its previous ruling that there was no reason per se to prevent anyone within the Church, ordained or lay, from entering into or remaining within a civil partnership, should also extend to those entering into legally contracted same-sex marriages.

The Conference agreed revised guidelines that will allow local churches and ministers to consider the appropriate pastoral response to requests for prayers and blessings of same-sex couples.

The Conference directed the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee to work on the production and dissemination of clear guidance on what is to be regarded as homophobia.

Susan Howdle, chair of the Church's working party on same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, said: "We are very grateful to all those people who have contributed to our work as we have explored together issues which have deep significance for the personal lives of so many people and for the life and mission of the church.  We appreciate too the spirit in which the Conference has now dealt with our report, and trust that the Methodist people will respond similarly to the call to engage with each other honestly, prayerfully and graciously about these matters."

A new working party was appointed today by the Methodist Conference to oversee the two-year period of reflection concerning relationships and living with difference, and to report to the Conference in 2016. 

Notes

  1. The Church's 1993 resolutions on human sexuality  can be read here.
  2. The Conference report on same-sex marriage can be read here. The revised guidelines can be found on page 478.
  3. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 covers England and Wales. The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act covers Scotland.

 

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