Officially the Methodist Church bans same-sex weddings, but 900 Methodists from the New York and Connecticut area have given their leadership the finger and signed a “covenant of conscience,” in support of marriage equality for the LGBT community.
And it’s not even Christmas!
The document, produced by MIND (Methodists in New Directions) reads as follows:
Pastoral care and the sacraments and rituals of the church are means of grace by which the lives of all Christians are blessed by God. Therefore we, as congregations and as individual laypersons and clergy, declare our commitment to offer such means of grace to all persons on an equal basis. We refuse to discriminate against any of God’s children and pledge to make marriage equality a lived reality within the New York Annual Conference, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.
Our conference’s record, in resolutions passed and petitions forwarded to the United Methodist Church’s General Conference, already makes clear our opposition to the UMC’s prejudice and discrimination against LGBT people.
While the rite of Christian marriage officiated by our clergy and celebrated in our church buildings is denied by UMC law to same-sex couples, we affirm the New York Annual Conference’s 2010 resolution urging “clergy to minister equally to all members of their churches and to consider the conference’s call to inclusive ministries in deciding how to honor their congregants’ covenantal commitments.”
We seek to embody the beloved community of hope by openly and joyfully affirming the lives and loves of all United Methodists, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.
We, United Methodist clergy, in accordance with our ordination vows to “seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people,” commit to marrying all people, both gay and straight, who seek the blessing of the church, without bias or discrimination.
We, United Methodist laity, in accordance with our membership vows to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves,” commit to supporting our clergy in faithfully ministering to all, including through any consequences of their living fully into that duty.
We, United Methodist congregations, refuse to discriminate in the sacraments and rituals provided to our members and pledge the full and equal use of our facilities as we welcome and celebrate equally all couples and the families they may choose to create.
Further, each of us, clergy, laity, and congregations, pledge to one another our spiritual and material support in fulfilling this covenant of conscience.
Currently, the United Methodist Church “affirm[s] that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” but dictates that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church” and that “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” Individual ministers have defied these regulations and faced the consequences (Rev. Jimmy Creech was defrocked in 1999 after officiating same-sex union ceremonies.)
Addressing the recent United Methodists’ New York conference, Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy explained the purpose of the covenant:
“We are here because we have faith that we can change our society and our religious communities. The change we seek is simple—GLBTQ persons should not have to live unlived lives. Individuals should choose who they marry, not the church.
What we get back is that these changes hurt our institution. The message that we hear is that our relationships aren’t valid, that our call to minister is not of God, that we cannot be ordained and that we shall not be married. How many lives go unlived because faith has been based on manmade traditions?”
Preach on, sister!