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Methodist Church to allow same-sex marriage after historic vote

The Church has stated that ministers who disagree with the move won't have to officiate.

2021-07-01

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

The Methodist Church has voted to allow same-sex marriage, defining marriage as between two people as opposed to a man and a woman.

The historic move came on Wednesday (20 June 2021) after the Church’s conference voted on resolutions brought forward by a 2019 report from the Marriage and Relationships Task Group. 

Some 254 people voted in favour of the resolution and 46 against, with only one synod (basically a church council) voting against the resolution.

"Marriage can be between any two people"

The conference is an opportunity for the church to update its written rules, known as Standing Orders. (“Read them and understand them!”)

Previously, the Church’s section on marriage stated: “The Methodist Church 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.”

It now reads as: “The Methodist Church believes that marriage is given by God to be a particular channel of God’s grace, and that it is in accord with God’s purposes when a marriage is a life-long union in body, mind, and spirit of two people who freely enter it.

“Within the Methodist Church this is understood in two ways: that marriage can only be between a man and a woman; that marriage can be between any two people.

“The Methodist Church affirms both understandings and makes provision in its Standing Orders for them.”

However, ministers will not be forced to conduct such weddings if they oppose the move. 

“What a wonderful way to end the month of Pride!”

Many celebrated the news, with Jayne Ozanne of the Ozanne Foundation describing the vote as a sign of a “significant shift” in Christian attitudes to same-sex marriage and that “LGBT+ people and their friends and families will be weeping tears of joy today – what a wonderful way to end the month of Pride!”

The move hasn’t been welcomed by every member of the church. As per the BBC, Carolyn Lawrence, a former vice-president of the Methodist Conference, warned the vote would mean a "significant minority" of Methodists were thinking of leaving or resigning from the Church. 

The Methodist Church in Ireland has said it will only permit marriages between a man and a woman still. 

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