The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Methodist Evangelicals Together responded by calling for the biblical definition of marriage to be maintained. The report will be presented at the Methodist Conference in June.
The Methodist Church's Marriage and Relationships Task Group has released a report recommending to allow the celebration of same-sex weddings in its chapels.
“As part of its calling and mission the Methodist Church must engage with the reality of how people are living. That raises questions about the nature of marriage, cohabitation, living in relationships and living with different sexualities”, Rev Ken Howcroft, Chair of the Task Group, said.
“AFFIRM SAME-SEX MARRIAGES”
The 'God in Love Unites Us' report stated that “there is a need to address the hurt felt by those in the Methodist Church who feel that its current definition of marriage implies that they are lesser persons”.
The authors “wish to celebrate that the love of God is present in these circumstances, even if that grace is not responded to or even discerned by the people concerned”.
“Reflecting on this matter, the Task Group urges the Conference to affirm in due course those who enter mixed-sex civil partnerships, just as it has affirmed those who enter same-sex civil partnerships”, it added.
At the same time,“where it is appropriate, we would then welcome it if the relationship that has led a couple to enter a partnership were to strengthen further and bring them to seek marriage as the Church understands it”, the report said.
METHODISTS SAY “CHURCH SHOULD SUPPORT COHABITATION”
The Task Group pointed out that the church should be supportive of couples who are cohabiting “but for whom marriage is a difficult option". It also proposed providing resources to celebrate civil partnerships.
According to the report, all these recommendations “would require developing and offering appropriate forms of prayer and orders of service”.
The proposals include a clause to ensure that ministers who object because of “their personal beliefs and integrity”, do not have to officiate at a same-sex marriage.
EVANGELICALS: “UPHOLD MARRIAGE AS A UNION OF A MAN AND A WOMAN”
Methodist Evangelicals Together (MET), the largest independent organization in British Methodism today, has responded to the report by calling for the current definition of marriage to be maintained.
“Methodist Evangelicals Together continues to be committed to the Wesleyan convictions that the gospel is for all, that the Bible is our supreme rule of faith and practice, and that all Christians are called to holiness”, the group said in a statement .
That is why they “uphold the biblical understanding of marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman, and call upon the Church to do the same”.
“We are carefully studying the report, noting that it is intended as a discussion starter rather than reaching definitive conclusions", the MET statement concluded.
In February, the United Methodist Church decided to keep its biblical definition of marriage after long debates and a narrow vote of 438 votes to 384.
FINAL DECISION IN 2020
'God in Love Unites Us' will be presented at the Methodist Conference, to be held in Birmingham from June 27 to July 4. If the Conference commends the 67-page report to the Connexion for study and prayerful discussion, the report will then be presented to synods from September 2019 before a vote takes place on the proposals the following spring.
A final report will then go before the 2020 Methodist Conference.