THE Methodist Church is to review its definition of marriage.
The review is a response to the recommendation of a task group, which has spent the past two years exploring the issue, including overseeing conversations with more than 8000 members.
A statement issued on Tuesday said that the Church will “reconsider how its understanding of marriage should be expressed. This does not necessarily mean that there will be a change of definition, but that the Church wishes to re-examine the definition through a period of theological and scriptural reflection.”
The existing position of the Church is outlined in the 1992 “Statement on Christian Understanding of Family Life, The Single Person and Marriage”, which states that marriage is “the lifelong union of one man and one woman”.
The Conference, due to conclude on Thursday, directed that a new statement on marriage and relationships should now be prepared and that, as part of that process, the definition of marriage should be revisited.
In other sessions, the conference agreed to redesign its £1-million-annual-grant-fund to better respond to poverty in the UK, including the fact that the majority of households in poverty have at least one person in work.
Earlier in the meeting, the new Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Rachel Lampard, called for the Church to stop “problematising” and trying to “fix” the poor, but “address the problems and pain that not having enough money brings”.
The new President, the Revd Dr Roger Walton, used his inaugural address to issue a call for holiness.
“Methodism was called to spread spiritual holiness,” he said. “Those early Methodists did that, not simply by telling, but by living inside the biblical story; by journeying regularly to holy places and living intentional and ethical lives.”
The Revd Loraine N. Mellor was elected as President for 2017/18 and Jill Baker as Vice-President.