"God in Love"
The Methodist Church Conference 2021 – God in Love Unites Us
Dear Sisters and Brothers
Last week the Methodist Conference voted on the report on same-sex relationships and marriage – God in love unites us. They approved the central resolution permitting same-sex marriages by a vote of 245 to 46 (over 80% in favour).
Attached is a letter received from the President and Vice President of the 2021/22 Methodist Conference, (the Reverend Sonia Hicks and Mrs Barbara Easton) to be shared and read out at churches regarding this vote.
The decision of the Conference will allow same-sex marriages to take place on Methodist Church premises, once all the necessary legal work has been undertaken by the Connexion. At the same time no church or presbyter will be asked to undertake duties they feel they cannot, so there is a conscience clause included within this decision where each Church Council, and presbyter will have the opportunity to reflect and decide if they wish same-sex marriages to take place at their church.
This vote took place after extensive discussions and was the culmination of a long process of consultation in the Methodist Church, going back to 1992 and the 1993 Derby Conference resolutions. In the history of the Christian church scripture has often been quoted as to why we should do or not do certain things. Scripture was used to say we should not allow marriages of divorced people in our churches and then in the discussions about ordaining women to the presbyteral ministry, scripture was again used as to why they should not be. We all use scripture differently but that does not mean we do not all take it seriously.
The conference discussion was recorded and can be heard on the Methodist Conference website. It was conducted with good grace but a lot of pain and emotion was also shared. I appreciate that there are members of the Methodist Church who will find this decision difficult. There will be pain as well as joy and the matter needs to be handled sensitively, so that we can continue to travel together, living with contradictory convictions, as we do in so many areas of our lives already such as views on Brexit!
There is a strong example of this in our own Circuit. Rev Josephine and I sit on opposite sides of this debate – we have talked about it at length. Yet despite our differing positions we respect each other’s faith, we meet weekly for prayer, we listen to each other, work closely together in team ministry across our churches, we love one another as brother and sister in Christ and we will continue to do so. I hope that our example might act as an encouragement to all in the circuit.
We are not the first Christian denomination in the UK to take this step: The United Reformed Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, individual Baptist Churches and the Quakers have all made this decision before us.
The Rev Sonia Hicks, President of the Methodist Conference, 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 World gives two messages: either we all become the same or else we obliterate or alienate those who are different from ourselves. The Church needs to show an alternative message to the world: we can be painfully different and still live together in love and respect. As Christians we acknowledge that we are born into a divided Church and we are called to grow in understanding with those who are different from us, respecting and loving one another. Jesus did not command us to love only those who think like us. The command to love is universal.”
You are always welcome to talk to your own minister about this but at the same time both Rev Josephine and I are here should you wish to contact us. God bless you...
Rev Alan Combes
Superintendent - Vale of Stour Circuit
For The Presidents Message Click Here
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