Frequently Asked Questions following the 2021 Conference votes on Marriage and Relationships
On 30 June and following prayerful consideration by the whole Church, the Methodist Conference voted to confirm provisional resolutions on same sex marriages conducted on Methodist premises or by Methodist office-holders.
Update 1 September 2021 In light of the Conference decision in June to allow same-sex marriages on Methodist premises, the guidance for churches and trustees who wish to register premises and ministers (including the date after which registration will be possible) is being finalised and will be put on our website shortly.
God in Love Unites Us (GiLUU) – Frequently asked questions
Please note that this guidance applies to Local Churches in England and Wales only.
- How soon will the Methodist Church notify the General Register Office (GRO) of its decision to accept the principle of same-sex marriage?
Under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, the Conference as the Methodist Church’s governing body must consent to local churches registering their buildings for the solemnisation (conduct) of same-sex marriages.
The Secretary of the Conference has notified the Registrar General of the Conference’s consent by letter dated 1 September 2021. Click here for a copy of the letter.
- What do local churches need to do to register their church premises for same-sex marriage?
Guidance on the registration process, together with resources to aid local churches with pastoral conversations about whether or not to register their buildings for same-sex marriage, can be found here.
- When can churches apply to register their premises for same-sex marriage?
Methodist Churches in England and Wales may apply to register their buildings for same-sex marriage from Monday 20 September 2021.
- How long will the registration process take?
The GRO aims to process applications for registration within 20 days, although this is not guaranteed and applications may take longer if they are complex or there are delays in the GRO’s internal processes. It may be possible to expedite applications in some circumstances – please contact your local Superintendent Registrar to ask if this is possible.
- Do we have to submit a copy of the liturgy for The Marriage of any two persons with every application to register?
Yes. The Faith and Order Committee has prepared a new draft liturgy for The Marriage of any two persons, which the Conference has commended for a period of experimental use until 2023. A copy can be found here.
- Our Church Council does not want to register its building for same-sex marriage. Does it have to?
No. The Conference recognises the differing views across the Connexion on the issue of same-sex marriage. The fact that the Conference has consented in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises does not change this, and it is vital that local churches understand that they are under no obligation to register. They are entitled to decide against doing so if they wish, or to decline to consider the issue altogether.
Guidance and resources on how to conduct pastoral conversations about the decision are available here.
- Can we register our Methodist church building if we share it with another denomination under a Sharing Agreement?
Yes, provided all denominations who are party to the Sharing Agreement agree and their respective governing authorities have given consent to the principle of same-sex marriage. This applies regardless of which denomination owns the building.
It should be noted that any denomination who is a party to a Sharing Agreement under the Shared Building Act 1969 has the power to veto a registration of the building for same-sex marriage.
- I am the authorised person for conducting marriages in my local church. I do not wish to solemnise same-sex marriages. Can I be compelled to do so?
No. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 amended the Equality Act 2010 to state that people will not be breaking the law if they refuse to conduct, participate in or attend a same-sex marriage. The Conference respects the conscience of those who do not wish to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies and Methodist Standing Order 011B provides for this.
- How can I become authorised to solemnise same-sex marriages?
Persons authorised to solemnise opposite-sex marriages are not automatically authorised to solemnise same-sex marriages. To do so, they must re-register using Form AP1. Persons who are not yet authorised to solemnise either type of marriage can register to solemnise both at the same time using this form. Further guidance on applying to register is available here.
10. Can we use our Methodist church to hold services of blessing for same-sex couples who are already married without applying to register the building with the GRO?
Yes, provided your Church Council agrees to this. The registration process only applies for the solemnisation of marriages on Methodist premises. If a couple is already married – be it same-sex or mixed-sex – an application for registration of the building is not required.
A sample Church Council resolution agreeing to use the church building for services of blessing of a marriage of a same-sex couple is available here.
The template Methodist liturgy for services of blessing of a marriage of any two persons previously solemnised is available here.