20 June 2022
One of the first-ever same-sex marriages within a Methodist Church took place at Fulwood Methodist Church, Preston on Friday 17th June.
The Methodist Church is the largest denomination in the UK to conduct same-sex marriages following a decision taken by the Methodist Conference last year, this vote allowed ministers and churches to undertake same-sex marriages if they wish.
Ben, 30, is an accountant and Jason, 29, is training for ministry within the Methodist Church. The pair, who grew up in Preston, currently live in Birmingham where Jason is completing his training at The Queen’s Foundation.
Jason and Ben McMahon-Riley, previously Jason McMahon and Ben Riley, were married in a service led by three ministers who have been significant in their lives locally – Revd Andrew Webb is performing the marriage, Revd Barbara Pettitt is presiding at Holy Communion, and the minister at Fulwood Methodist Church, Revd Jane Wild, is welcoming, blessing and signing the registers.
Jason commented, “This day has meant so much to me. After such a long journey alongside the Methodist Church, this means everything. To be able to marry Ben, the love of my life, in front of those who matter the most to me, in church, has been amazing.
“I really believe that this day means the start of something new for my relationship with the whole Church – being recognised and affirmed in my wholeness. This day has been the best of my life, and I can’t wait to share the rest of it with Ben as my husband!”
Ben said, “This is a day that I have been waiting so long for, to be able to celebrate my love for Jason and the relationship we share in such a public manner and to be able to show to the wider world the importance of that love being recognised. Most of all, I can now call Jason my husband and all that it means to me.”
Revd Paul Davis, chair of the Lancashire Methodist District, commented, “I am delighted that Jason and Ben were finally able to celebrate their wedding together. It has been a long journey for the Methodist Church and for Ben and Jason who have waited for this day. My prayers and wishes are with them for their life together.”
The minister at Fulwood Methodist Church, the Revd Jane Wild, commented, ”We are delighted to be part of this celebration of Jason and Ben’s love for each other and that it is a first for our church.”
Ben proposed to Jason in Lytham St Annes in September 2019 but the couple decided to wait for the Methodist Church vote on same-sex marriage so they could get married in a Methodist Church, having been lifelong Christians and members of the Church for many years.
Jason explained that their marriage had been a long journey for them both. “During all the discussions and consultations, we have had the stigma of being a committed same-sex couple who lived together. There have been occasions on this journey that have been upsetting and painful; but there have also been times of genuine love, compassion and grace. To keep sharing the love that we have for each other. The love that God has given us to share.
“We have waited over a decade to be able to marry in a Methodist Church. Many years ago, we took the decision to wait for the outcome of the discussions that were taking place in the Church. It was because we longed so deeply to be married in the Methodist Church that we took the painful decision to wait.
“COVID-19 added another year to the process but last June, when we watched the final vote take place on live stream, we couldn’t hold back our emotions. For me, it was like a great release of all the tension, fear, hurt and discrimination I had felt and experienced.”