The Methodist Conference voted Tuesday on its report on Pilgrimage of Faith, the Church’s ongoing discussion regarding human sexuality.
Although representatives at the Conference voted down blessings for same-sex civil partnerships, ministers in the Church will still be allowed to offer informal private prayers to same-sex couples.
According to observers, the lengthy debate was conducted in an atmosphere of care and respect and was followed by a vote of approval for the statement of good practice issued by the Methodist Council last December.
|QUOTE|The Rev Cass Howes, member of the working party and a member of Outcome (formerly the Methodist Lesbian and Gay Caucus), said, “It is no good saying at this stage that the Church is willing to bless same sex couples if the culture of the Church is not ready to receive those couples.”
Rev Howes added, “Waiting for the culture of the Church to change is painful but if we walk together for a bit longer my hope is that the Church will be a more accepting place.”
The vote means that the Church will not authorise a liturgy for blessing civil partnerships. It also excludes the possibility of Methodist premises being used for any prayers for civil partnerships.
“As Christians we are naturally keen to mark all of the key moments of
life with prayer,” says the Rev Jonathan Kerry, member of the working
party and Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Worship and Learning.
|AD|“But earlier Conference resolutions make it clear that we cannot as a Church offer formal blessings for same sex partnerships. This is a difficult subject, but we are glad that the debate has been conducted in a supportive and respectful atmosphere.”
Conference also passed a resolution giving permission to Methodists to enter into a civil partnership if they should so wish but reaffirmed that traditional teaching within the Church upheld marriage as a holy union between a man and a woman only.
It also reaffirmed its requirement that Methodists remain celibate until marriage and urged faithfulness in marriage.
The Rev Paul Smith, who served as a member of the working party and is a member of Methodist evangelical group Headway, said, “As a member of
the working party, I am pleased that the Conference felt able to accept the various proposals that we brought.
“They accurately represent where the Church is at the moment on this difficult issue and they make clear that the Methodist Church does not sanction the blessing of gay partnerships.”