THE Methodist Conference has voted overwhelmingly in principle to permit the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises by Methodist ministers. The move could prompt opposition among Anglican Evangelicals to closer ties with the Methodists.
On Wednesday, the Methodist Conference, which is meeting in Birmingham, voted by 247 votes to 48 to endorse a report, God in Love Unites Us, by the Marriage and Relationships Task Group. It proposes allowing same-sex couples to marry in Methodist churches, and providing resources and liturgies to celebrate civil partnerships. Other proposals in the report included prayers for when marriages end in divorce and an understanding of cohabitation.
The recommendations will be submitted to the wider Church for consultation, with a final decision due to be made at the July 2020 Conference.
The President of the Conference, the Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, said: “The debate was full of grace and prayerful thought. There were many personal, often painful, stories shared and representatives listened with great care and attention.
“My prayer is that this spirit of generosity and love shown today will be reflected as the proposals are discussed across the Church.”
Methodist Evangelicals Together have said that the report “represents a watershed moment in the life of the Methodist Church in Britain. If its resolutions are adopted, the approach of the Methodist Church to marriage and relationships will be fundamentally changed. The Church is called to remain faithful to the biblical teaching on sexuality, and yet the revisions to the Church’s view proposed in the report radically change this teaching in a number of ways.”
The Methodist Conference’s vote has been seen as a potential obstacle to closer unity from an Anglican Evangelical standpoint.
Proposals for interchangeability of ministries between the C of E and the Methodist Church will be debated and voted on at a meeting of the General Synod in York on Sunday. Anglican Catholics have already raised concerns about the proposals.