The governing body of the Methodist Church in Great Britain has voted to redefine marriage, conduct same-sex weddings and affirm cohabitation.
Yesterday, at the church’s annual Conference, representatives consented “in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples” by 254 votes to 46. The Conference also endorsed “informal cohabitation”, equating it to marriage.
The Methodist Church is Britain’s fourth largest denomination, with approximately 165,000 active members.
‘Line in the sand’
Speaking against the resolution on homosexual marriage, lay representative Sandra Hayward said Conference decisions were leading the church “away from Scripture” and were contrary to “Scriptural holiness”.
Carolyn Lawrence, a former vice-president of the Methodist Conference, said those remaining faithful to the Bible were “planning on leaving or resigning their membership” over the vote.
She added: “Today is a line in the sand for many people and seen as a significant departure from our doctrine.”
One minister said: “There’s a real sense that the Church has become an increasingly alien place to be a conservative evangelical, and there is a sense that the Church is on a direction of travel which many over the course of this next year or two will probably feel unable to sustain.”
‘Against God’s Word’
Both resolutions – on same-sex marriage and cohabitation – were based upon recommendations made in the controversial report ‘God In Love Unites Us’, which was presented to the Methodist Conference in 2019.
In response to the report, chair of Methodist Evangelicals Together Revd Dr David Hull issued an urgent call to the denomination to “remain faithful” to the “traditional teaching of the Christian Church” on marriage.
Ahead of yesterday’s vote, he stated his belief that it would be the “final opportunity to bring the Methodist Church’s runaway train under control before it finally derails”.
He concluded: “For myself, I believe that such a vote would go against God’s Word, God’s ways and God’s will and therefore, I must do what I can to sound a warning”.
Speaking to the Institute’s Ciarán Kelly earlier today, he said that he was “greatly saddened” by the decision to “abandon the teaching of the Christian Church held throughout history and still held by the majority of Christians around the world today”.