Marriage & Relationships in the Methodist Church
The Methodist Marriage and Relationships Task Group's new report 'God in Love Unites Us', will be presented in the upcoming Methodist conference to be held in Birmingham between 27th June and 4th July. If the 67-page report is passed, the wider Church will consider it with a final decision being made at the 2020 conference.
As part of the discussion process a meeting was recently held at the Central Methodist Church in Launceston. The evening was chaired by Rev Malcolm Jones with the main speaker being Rev Paul Smith.
Rev Ken Howcroft, who chairs the group says why it's important for the Church to talk about relationships, sex and marriage. "We have not been good at doing it for a very long time and there is a dissonance between what we have sometimes formally said and the way we actually behave and that is not good," he explained.
While Rev Howcroft acknowledged some members of the Church may be disappointed if the changes are implemented, he insisted that it would be impossible to please everyone in the Church. "Whatever we say, there will be people who profoundly disagree with that and that's the journey we've been on for all these years - in particular for the last 25 years or so," he said. "What we're trying to do is to find a way in which we can deeply honour each other's convictions."
A clause has been included in the proposals that states no-one would be forced to officiate at a same-sex marriage if they felt prevented by "their personal beliefs and integrity". Rev Howcroft said he hoped that ministers would not feel pressured to conduct same-sex weddings.
He added: "We have similar things about ministers who are not required to officiate at the remarriage of divorcees but they are meant to enable divorcees who want to get married to talk to someone who would be able to do that. "I would hope that the same sort of spirit of openness would apply in this situation."
The group's report also proposes providing resources to celebrate civil partnerships and prayers for when marriages end in divorce.