There’s something in the air with the British Methodist Church. And we are loving it!
This week, the UK hosted the annual Methodist Conference. The conference is where members of Britain’s second-largest Christian denomination gather to discuss and vote on policies that will affect the denomination from top to bottom. And this year, the Methodist Church made some great strides for its LGBTQ members.
According to BBC News, participants of the Methodist Conference voted by a landslide to support same-sex marriage. In fact, the motion was passed on Wednesday with 254 people in favor and 46 against. From now on, the definition of marriage within the Methodist Church will change to include same-sex couples. Though, freedom of conscience clauses allows any ministers who don’t approve of same-sex marriage to not conduct the weddings.
“Some of us have been praying for this day to come for decades, and can hardly believe it is now here,” said Rev Sam McBartney, Chair of LGBTQ Methodist group the Dignity and Worth. “We are so grateful to our fellow Methodists for taking this courageous step to recognize and affirm the value and worth of LGBTQ+ relationships. We reassure those who do not support this move that we want to continue to work and worship with you in the Church we all love.”
But that’s not all. On Thursday, June 1, the conference voted almost unanimously to ban gay conversion therapy within the denomination. As Yahoo News reports, Reverend Catherine Dixon, the convener of the Memorials Committee, said conversion therapy is “totally incompatible with previously agreed resolutions of the conference and the council” and is “contrary to Methodist values.”
Dixon added that the conference “agrees… to call on all Methodists to refuse to offer or participate in offering conversion therapy in any form, [and] that no conversion therapy can take place in the name of the Methodist Church.”
Dignity and Worth Leader Rev. Mark Rowland said in a statement about the decision, “Today the conference made absolutely clear that conversion therapy has no place in the Methodist Church. Any attempts to use prayer or coercion to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is spiritual abuse and a perversion of the gospel message of love and mercy.
He added, “I look forward to the church’s leaders taking this message to the heart of government.”