The Marriage and Relationships Task Group of the Methodist Church has announced that it will present a report to the 2019 Conference with recommendations about various issues to do with relationships in general and marriage in particular. Details are reproduced below, together with some Ancillary Documents and links to other relevant material.
Marriage and Relationships 2019
The Marriage and Relationships Task Group will present a report to the 2019 Conference with recommendations about various issues to do with relationships in general and marriage in particular. If accepted by Conference, those 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 Methodist Church has not fully reflected on the theology of marriage and relationships since 1992 although work has been carried out by several Task Groups since then. The Marriage and Relationships Task Group set up in 2014 identified the need for an update and to revisit the ‘definition’ of marriage and the current Task Group (set up in 2016) have been looking at this. The 2018 Conference directed that, instead of a statement, the Task Group should bring a report on these matters which could include any proposed changes to Standing Orders, were the definition of marriage to change.
- Marriage and Relationships 2019 – media briefing
- Marriage and Relationships 2019 – timeline
- Talking of Marriage and Relationships – frequently asked questions
- Marriage and Relationships 2018 – archived material
The Task Group Report is to be presented to the forthcoming Conference of The Methodist Church (which covers England, Scotland and Wales) to be held in Birmingham between 27th June and 4th July. Relevant sections of the Task Group report include [emphasis added]:
4.3.8 The implication of [the above discussion] is that the Methodist Church is content for Methodists (whether lay or ordained) to enter the legal institutions of same-sex civil partnership and same-sex marriage, but does not see them as falling within the Methodist Church’s understanding of marriage. The Task Group is aware that some members of the Methodist Church would be happy to see the Conference authorising forms of service which enable same-sex couples to exchange vows and to make commitments to each other in the sight of God and the Church that create a life-long, exclusive covenant relationship between them; but that they would not want this relationship to be called ‘marriage’. Others oppose any sort of formalised same-sex relationship, and some struggle with the 1993 declarations of the Conference concerning sexuality as a whole.
4.3.20 … we believe that, in awe and humility, the Methodist Church needs to recognise that it is being called by God to take the next steps in the development of its understanding of relationships and marriage. Those steps include enabling people of the same sex to commit themselves to each other in Christian marriage services. There is a strong case that, if marriage is what the Methodist Church says it is, and is as wonderful as it says it is, this Church cannot remain true to the God of justice and love by continuing to deny it to those same-sex couples who desire it so deeply.
5.3.4 How, then, should ‘conscience’ be protected in the matter of the Christian marriage of same-sex couples? With regard to ministers or other officiants, provisions analogous to those concerning the remarriage of divorcees could be introduced. In no circumstances would a minister or other authorised officiant be forced to conduct a same-sex marriage, but they would be required to refer any couple who requested one to a colleague who could.
However the views expressed in the Report do not necessarily reflect those of Methodists elsewhere in world.