13 January 2020
The Methodist Church in Britain is at the midpoint of a consultation on ‘God in love unites us’, the report which the Conference received and commended for study and on which all District Synods have been asked to vote. Those votes will approve, disapprove or approve with amendments some of the key resolutions of the Conference, namely:
- That the Conference adopts the understanding of the principles of good relating contained in the report.
- That the Conference adopts the understanding of cohabitation contained in the report.
- That the Conference adopts the Guidance on the Understanding of Marriage contained in the report and directed its inclusion in CPD.
- That the Conference consents to the marriage of same-sex couples.
- That the Conference amends the Standing Orders in the light of these decisions.
The detail of these, the full text of the report and resources to support reading and reflection on the report can be found here.
Throughout this process, we have been praying with and for one another, accepting that we cannot always agree but seeking to witness to our unity as we live with contradictory convictions. There are conversations in train to discuss how we can deal with one another graciously after the 2020 Conference. The Conference will be asked to consider the outcome of those conversations together with recommendations about practical matters.
This debate is not peculiar to the Methodist Church in Britain. Both our ecumenical partners and our Methodist brothers and sisters overseas are also wrestling with these issues. The United Methodist Church’s General Conference meets in May to determine its next steps after its Conference in February last year resolved to reaffirm a ‘traditional’ understanding of marriage. Amongst the proposals that the General Conference will be asked to consider is one for the formal separation of some in the UMC from the rest of the body. The Methodist Church in Britain (MCB) is a concordat partner of the UMC, a global church present in Europe, Asia, Africa and the US and we work closely with it in the United States and in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe. We will be represented at the General Conference and we are in close and prayerful communication with our partners.
These are difficult and, for some, painful times. However, we remain united in prayer for one another, convinced that there is more that holds us together than causes us to differ, and confident that by the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can find a way (both in Britain and throughout the world) to live together as a Methodist family rejoicing in our common Wesleyan heritage.