Methodist Church report “God in love unites us” on marriage and relationships

Here are two letters written in July 2021 in connection with this Report.
The first one is from our Minister, Rev Alan Bradley :

“Last week the Methodist Conference adopted the report on marriage and relationships ‘God in love unites us’, recognising the importance of human relationships and our God given capacity to love and be loved as a fundamental feature of being created in the image of God. The Conference affirmed that ‘all significant relationships should be built on self-giving love, commitment, fidelity, loyalty, honesty, mutual respect, equality and the desire for the mutual flourishing of the people involved.’

The full report can be found on the Methodist Church web site, and I would encourage anyone to read it, given the immense work, prayer and study that has led the church to this point in time. However, it is the change to our understanding of marriage that naturally has made the headlines. The Conference recognised that there are two different understandings of marriage in our church: one of which is that marriage should always involve a woman and a man; and another of which sees marriage as possible between any two people. Consequently same-sex marriage should be permitted within Methodist buildings where church councils wish to apply for registration to do so; and Methodist ministers may preside at same-sex marriage services. At the same time, ministers and church councils who hold traditional views of marriage will be under no compulsion to act in any way which would compromise their convictions.

For some within KMC this is a joyful moment, fully recognising and affirming those marginalised by the church in the past for their sexual identity and enabling those within the LGBTQ community to celebrate their significant relationships. I am keenly aware that for some others at KMC this milestone is a step too far, and that they are struggling with the decisions Conference has made. My hope is that we can live with these contradictory convictions, recognising that those who hold different views from ourself do so out of the same desire to follow Christ and follow his teaching faithfully. John Wesley’s approach is helpful when within the church we find we experience disagreement: ‘Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may.’

At KMC, we continue to share God’s love for all in Christ and will discuss the implications of the report at our autumn church council, when the full guidelines from Conference will be available. In the meantime we continue to pray for God’s wisdom for future decisions, healing where there is hurt, and unity where there has been division. If you would like to speak with myself or Scott about this issue, or any pastoral matter, please do get in touch through the church office. Attached to our weekly notes this week is also a letter from the President and Vice-President of Conference.

Every blessing,
Alan”

The second letter is from President and Vice President of the Methodist Conference:

From : The Revd Sonia Hicks and Mrs Barbara Easton
President and Vice President of the Conference
E-mail: panvp@methodistchurch.org.uk

1 July 2021
“Dear Friends
We wished to take this opportunity to write to you after the Conference voted on the
resolutions contained in the marriage and relationships report.
We very much appreciate that these decisions will stir up many different emotions for our
siblings across the Connexion. There will be some who will be deeply hurt and others who
will rejoice by what has been decided.
Our Presidential theme this year is “God’s Table: An Invitation for All”, and God’s invitation is
for every single one of us. The Methodist Church has held tension for many years and as a
Church and a family, we must do all we can to live with contradictory convictions.
This work was first reflected on back in 1992 and we have been on this journey together
since that point. During the past years we have continued to listen to and to pray for each
other and remaining true to what God is saying to us. We must remember in all this, to
continue to hold each other in prayer, and to support each other as we find a way forward,
respecting our differences.
It is perhaps helpful to remember that there are other issues, some of them discussed at
the Conference, on which we hold differing and sometimes strong opinions. We live with
them and we do not allow them to impair our communion with each other. We respect
each other’s consciences, we exercise judgment in when to speak and when to be silent,
and we hold one another in prayer. We do all this not for our own sake but for the sake of
Christ and the sake of the world which urgently needs to know the power of Christ’s
reconciling love.
Our prayer for you, beloved siblings, is that in joy or sorrow, in pain or excitement, we might
continue to live within that reconciling love.”

The Revd Sonia Hicks Mrs Barbara Easton
President of the Conference Vice-President of the Conference””