29 November 2023
Methodist churches vote to host same-sex marriages on the Isle of Man
In November 2023, the trustees of Trinity Methodist Church and Promenade Methodist Church in Douglas, in the Isle of Man Methodist District, voted overwhelmingly in favour of registering their churches for same-sex marriages. They are the first churches on the island to do so.
“Many LGBT people don't go to church as they do not feel welcomed. We wanted to change that, to make ourselves visible and let them know we would love them to be part of our community,” explains Pam Gold, EDI Officer for the district, “We are overjoyed that Trinity and Promenade’s trustees voted for their churches to be inclusive.”
After the 2021 Methodist Conference where same-sex marriage was accepted, members from both Trinity Methodist Church and Promenade Methodist Church's congregation approached their governance team about their desire for their church to be more inclusive. This November both churches finally voted to register their buildings for same-sex marriage, Trinity Methodist Church on Thursday 2 and Promenade Methodist Church on Tuesday 21 November.
It has taken some time to get to this point, as, despite their commitment to diversity and inclusion, the churches were bound by local regulations on the Isle of Man. Revd Dr Janet Corlett, Chair of District and Circuit Superintendent explained. “Our law, country and jurisdiction are different and there was nothing on the Methodist Church website to help us navigate through them.”
Local regulations meant that 20 members or regular attendees of the church were needed to sign the application with their contact details. This was problematic for those churches with a small number of worshipers. To be sure that the congregation had all the information, the team has been leading pastoral discussions on the topic for the past few months to educate everyone about the meaning of the decision. They provided them with information and resources to better understand the issues. “It’s very much part of our desire to be an inclusive church. In recent months, several new members have joined us because they wanted to belong to a more inclusive church – one that values gender equality, female leadership and openness to the LGBTQ+ community,” adds Janet.
Trinity and Promenade have been inclusive for quite some time, giving baptisms for the children of same-sex couples and offering justice, dignity and inclusivity training to the congregation. Members of the congregation are interested in supporting the LGBT community and the church runs online and in-person training.
Pam is also the connexional lead for the LGBTQ Solidarity Circle which was launched last August. “We welcome people who are LGBTQ + from all genders and listen to the stories of their experience in the Methodist Church. We will then provide feedback to the JDS committee,” concludes Pam.