Methodist evangelicals urged to stay and engage after Church moves towards gay blessings

(Photo: Methodist Church)

An evangelical network in the Methodist Church is asking evangelicals not to leave just yet but stay and engage as plans for gay marriage blessings continue to be debated.

Methodist Evangelicals Together (MET) said it was "saddened" by many of the decisions made by the 2019 Methodist Conference concerning the report, 'God in love Unites Us', which sets out proposals allowing gay couples to wed in Methodist churches. 

Other recommendations in the report include changing the rules so that churches can bless and give thanks for co-habiting couples, effectively doing away with the traditional requirement for celibacy before marriage. 

The report was commended by the Methodist Conference, the Church's main parliamentary body, during its meeting in Birmingham last week. 

It will now be passed to district synods for further debate before a final vote is taken at the next Conference in summer 2020. 

MET said it was aware that some evangelicals within the Church were considering leaving the denomination in light of the report, but it has appealed to them to stay for now in order to have their say in the regional debates. 

"Between now and spring 2020, the above proposals will be debated at various levels within the Methodist Church," it said in a statement.

"Whilst we are aware that evangelical Methodists are considering leaving the denomination, we encourage people to stay for as long as possible to continue to make the case for remaining faithful to the teaching of the Bible throughout the forthcoming consultation.

"We urge people to engage in this process of consultation, and to continue to make the case for retaining the understanding of marriage solely as the life-long union of one man and one woman and the only appropriate context for sexual intimacy. Such an understanding of marriage and relationships, we believe, is good news for all creation." 

It added: "We continue to pray for grace and guidance for the Methodist Church and its members at this time."