Conference confirms resolutions on marriage and relationships
Following prayerful consideration by the whole Church, the Methodist Conference has voted to confirm provisional resolutions on the principles or qualities of good relating, understanding of cohabitation and same sex marriages conducted on Methodist premises or by Methodist office-holders.
A report on marriage and relationships, 'God in Love Unites Us', was received by the Conference in 2019 and the local District Synods were asked to consider the provisional resolutions and report back to this year's Conference which is being held this week in Birmingham. The Conference received a report on the results of the local conferring which showed that 29 out of the 30 Synods confirmed support for the provisional resolutions.
The Revd Sonia Hicks, President of the Conference, prayed ahead of the main debate on Wednesday morning in Birmingham, asking that the Conference's "words may be imbibed with your grace, with tenderness from on high."
A range of views were expressed on the resolutions, in particular on cohabitation and same sex marriages. The Revd Dr Jonathan Hustler, spoke to the Conference acknowledging the "depth of feeling, pain and anxiety that there is" with a commitment to work across the Connexion with District Chairs to heal divisions.
Speakers called for unity going ahead irrespective of the decision. Other speakers spoke of the acceptance of diversity that younger Church members have for each other with younger speakers relating their own lived experience as Christians from the LGBTQI+ community. Another representative asked that the Church does not ostracise those who oppose the introduction of same-sex marriages in the Church, saying the great majority of these people are trying to be faithful to Scripture as they see it.
The Methodist Church included other denominations and Methodist Churches across the world in the process of listening and consultation, with written submissions from ecumenical partners to the 'God In Love Unites Us' report and workshops with global Methodist partners.
Following the vote on the provisional resolutions the Revd Sonia Hicks said: "The debate today and our wider conversation has been conducted with grace and mutual respect. As we move forward together after this historic day for our Church, we must remember to continue to hold each other in prayer, and to support each other respecting our differences."
The Methodist Church will shortly publish FAQs on same sex marriages, the first of which is likely to take place in the autumn.