Last Summer, the Methodist Conference discussed the Report on Marriage and Relationships called 'God in Love unites us'. This is the latest in a long line of reports stretching back to 1979, on different aspects of marriage and divorce, relationships, singleness, and family life. Sadly, they have not been widely read.
The latest report is a response to questions raised by the Conference in relation to the changes in marriage law in Scotland, England and Wales, and the changing pattern of relationships that we have witnessed since the last official Statement on Marriage in 1992. The working party set up to look at these came up with a set of recommendations for the Conference to consider including attitudes to cohabitation (people living together either before or after marriage), the marriages of people of the same sex, and how we live with Christians who profoundly disagree with us.
At this point, let me deal with a couple of technicalities. The vote at Conference was provisional which means the Synods now have a chance to discuss, change and vote on the proposals and advise the Conference who must vote again in 2020. Even if the proposals go through, it will still be up to each local Church's managing trustees to decide whether their building should be registered for the marriages of same-sex couples. It will be entirely up to the members of the church council whether or not to do this and it will not affect the church's standing with the rest of the Connexion, no matter what is decided.
The proposals recognise that, despite four decades of discussions, Methodists still hold different views on the subject of marriage. The proposed new rules on marriage affirm that belief in marriage between one man and one woman only, remains perfectly acceptable. Alongside that, those who affirm marriage as open to any couple are also affirmed. This model has been called the 'Mixed Economy' and seeks to allow everyone to follow their consciences, whilst respecting those who do not share their views. It is far from perfect, but may be the best way to help the Church live with contradictory convictions.
Over the next few weeks, conversations will be taking place around the Circuit to which all are welcome (see below). It will be a chance to listen to each other and share our own experiences of relationships and how that has shaped our thinking. This will help us to offer advice to the Circuit's representatives to the District Synod.
Paper copies are also available from the Circuit Resource Centre (email email@example.com to request a copy).
The sessions will each have a facilitator and a chaplain and are currently scheduled at :
|Warwick||7th December 2019||2:30 pm|
|Kenilworth||11th January 2020||10:30 am|
|Kineton||11th January 2020||10:30 am|
|Stratford||18th January 2020||10:30 am|
The full report ('God in Love Unites Us') is available here.
Rev Sam McBratney
To read all the articles in newsletter 6, click here.