Methodist Church to perform same-sex marriages after historic, landslide vote

Couple at a same-sex wedding, now approved by the Methodist Church

The Methodist Church has voted to allow same-sex marriage, and will now define marriage as between “two people”, rather than between “one man and one woman”.

In 2019, the Marriage and Relationships Task Group presented a report to the church’s annual conference, titled “God in Love Unites Us“.

The report put forward proposed resolutions same-sex marriage, and these were approved by all but one of the local Methodist synods.

On Wednesday (30 June), the 2021 conference gave final considerations on the resolutions, and officially voted to allow same-sex marriages to be conducted in Methodist churches.

The conference voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality, with 254 votes in favour and 46 against.

The church’s standing orders, or rules, are updated each year by the conference.

The section on marriage previously read: “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 has now been amended to read: “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.”

In “affirming” both those who agree with and disagree with same-sex marriage in the church, the standing orders state that ministers or other officials will not be required to perform same-sex marriages “should it be contrary to the dictates of his or her conscience to do so”.

The standing orders also state that the church “opposes discrimination on the basis of sexuality, gender or race”, where before only gender and race were listed.

Reverend Sam McBratney, chair of Dignity and Worth, a group which has long been fighting for justice for LGBT+ methodists, said in a statement: “Some of us have been praying for this day to come for decades, and can hardly believe it is now here.

“We are so grateful to our fellow Methodists for taking this courageous step to recognise and affirm the value and worth of LGBT+ relationships.

“And we reassure those who do not support this move, that we want to continue to work and worship with you in the church we all love.”

Jayne Ozanne, director of the Ozanne Foundation which works with “religious organisations to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender”, told PinkNews: “I am absolutely thrilled that the Methodist Conference has overwhelmingly voted to allow same-sex marriage in their churches.

“This reflects the significant shift that there has been amongst Christian attitudes in England, and shows how so many people would echo the recent call of Bishop Paul Bayes to allow same sex marriage in the Church of England.

“LGBT+ people and their friends and families will be weeping tears of joy today – what a wonderful way to end the month of Pride!”