14 May 2019
The Marriage and Relationships Task Group will present its report God in Love Unites Us to the 2019 Conference with recommendations about various issues around relationships in general and marriage in particular. If accepted by Conference the recommendations will be submitted to the wider Church for consultation during 2019-2020, with a final decision being made at the July 2020 Conference.
The report sets out, from a Christian perspective, the principles and qualities of good relationships, including good sexual relationships. It also sets out an understanding of cohabitation.
Among the changes being suggested are to allow same-sex couples to marry in Methodist churches. The proposals also include providing resources to celebrate civil partnerships and prayers for when marriages end in divorce. A clause has been included in the proposals that no-one would have to officiate at a same-sex marriage if they feel prevented by their personal beliefs and integrity.
The recommendations will be brought before the 2019 Methodist Conference to be held in Birmingham between June 27th and July 4th. The Conference is being asked to receive the 67-page report and commend it to the Connexion for study and prayerful discussion. If that is agreed, the report will be presented to Synods from September 2019 with Synods voting on the proposals in Spring 2020. A report will then go before the 2020 Methodist Conference.
Revd Ken Howcroft, Chair of the Task Group said: “Relationships, sex and marriage are significant issues for everyone and it’s important that the Church talks about these matters today. 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. Members of the Task Group come from very different theological backgrounds, yet we have sought to understand each other’s viewpoint and where we have disagreed, to do so well. What we share in loving God and in knowing we are loved by God, is much greater than anything that divides us.”
Revd Ashley Cooper from the Task Group said: “No report or set of recommendations will be adequate to hold all the complexities of the issues. We believe that our recommendations will enable Methodists to respect each other’s sincerely and faithfully held opinions and practices “
Revd Naomi Cooke a member of the Task Group said: “We need to acknowledge the integrity and dignity of those who come to different conclusions. Our future lies in embracing our differences, and growing together as we seek the heart of Jesus in all that we do”