Thinking Anglicans

British Methodists: report of the Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019

The Methodist Church (which covers Great Britain, i.e. England, Scotland and Wales) has published the report of its Marriage and Relationships Task Group 2019, together with a number of ancillary documents.

There is a Media Briefing which is probably the best place to start. Some of this is copied below the fold.

Also there is a Frequently Asked Questions page.

The full report is available as a PDF here.

Links to seven ancillary documents are on this page. And there is this useful timeline.

And an archive from last year’s (2018) Conference

Extract from Media Briefing:

The Marriage and Relationships Task Group will present a report to the 2019 Conference with recommendations about various issues to do with relationships in general and marriage in particular. If accepted by Conference, those recommendations will be submitted to the wider Church for consultation during 2019-2020, with a final decision being made at the July 2020 Conference.

Background:

The Methodist Church has not fully reflected on the theology of marriage and relationships since 1992 although work has been carried out by several Task Groups since then. The Marriage and Relationships Task Group set up in 2014 identified the need for an update and to revisit the ‘definition’ of marriage and the current Task Group (set up in 2016) have been looking at this. The 2018 Conference directed that, instead of a statement, the Task Group should bring a report on these matters which could include any proposed changes to Standing Orders, were the definition of marriage to change.

The following gives a flavour of the introduction to the report and its major recommendations: –
Introduction:
Relationships, sex and marriage are important issues for everyone. To speak on these topics is both a challenge and an opportunity. As part of its calling and mission, the Methodist Church must engage with the reality of how people are living today. Looking at these relationships raises questions about the nature of marriage, cohabitation, living in relationships and living with different sexualities. These questions cut right to the very identity of who we are, and who those we love are and can be.

The group looked at how we can best live faithfully as Christians in these relationships today. As Methodist people, we differ in how we answer this question. Yet, we are called to be in loving communion with one another. What we share in loving God and in knowing we are loved by God, is much greater than anything that divides us.

Since 1993, the Methodist people have been encouraged to be on a “Pilgrimage of Faith”. This has challenged us to listen and to learn from each other on issues of sexuality, relationships and faith, and to move on together. Sometimes, we find it hard to understand why others do not see things as we do and hurt has been caused to many people along the way. Yet as the Methodist people, we have chosen to journey on together and find ways of living with contradictory convictions.

There is a need to be able to talk better together about relationships, marriage and sexuality. This has come most clearly from the Methodist young people at their annual gathering, 3Generate.

The Marriage and Relationships Task Group is a living, worked example of the Pilgrimage of Faith, starting at different places and with some disagreement. The members grappled with their contradictory convictions and found God meeting them in each other.

Section 0.4 of God in Love Unites Us sets out in detail what is considered in the report starting with examining where relationships fit into the understanding of what it is to be human, exploring how God created us all to be fundamentally relational beings, and the part our sexuality plays in that.

24
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
2 Comment threads
22 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
CRSSusannah ClarkT PottJo BPat O'Neill Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Susannah Clark
Guest

There are lessons for Anglicans here. “The group looked at how we can best live faithfully as Christians in these relationships today. As Methodist people, we differ in how we answer this question. Yet, we are called to be in loving communion with one another. What we share in loving God and in knowing we are loved by God, is much greater than anything that divides us.” Precisely. The Scottish option. Unity in diversity because what we have in common in Jesus Christ is far greater and goes far deeper than our differing views on human sexuality. “We have chosen… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

“As Methodist people” means, “as Methodists in Britain,” since the major block of Methodists world-wide did not do what they are proposing. Instead, they let those who did not want to abide by the church’s teaching on marriage to leave with property, based upon a vote at the congregational level. The PCUSA followed a similar path. So too ELCA. TEC was an exception, running up a bill of 40M.

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

Thank goodness TEC stood up against hatred and maintained the law of love. $40m is a small price to pay when the health and happiness of its gay members are at stake.

CRS
Guest
CRS

That must be right. Spend 40M rather than let conservative churches depart in peace (as did the PCUSA and ELCA) or liberal ones (as did the UMC). Thank goodness for that, as you say.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

As someone who is always arguing about polity, I would think you of all people would realize that the Presbyterians and Methodists and Lutherans have somewhat different polities from we Episcopalians…and that that makes a difference in how they legally deal with property issues

CRS
Guest
CRS

In what sense? Two of the groups you mention have very clear hierarchical systems of governance, with courts to adjudicate things. Lutherans are a bit different. Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide do not have some uniform polity that marks them off vis-a-vis other denominations. American Episcopalians have a very distinctive polity, not shared in the SEC or the CofE. Nothing prevented TEC from doing what these other groups have done; indeed, it would have been less messy. But instead they chose a very costly route, during the tenure of +KJS. Her predecessor famously said he did not feel it was his… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Do any of the stated denominations have, as does TEC, a canon and by-law that says parish and diocesan property is held in trust for the national church? If not, then their polity regarding property is, indeed, different from that of the Episcopal Church.

Oh, and my mother is a Presbyterian and an elder in her congregation. When their former pastor retired, they did not “call” and choose a replacement as a congregation, but had one assigned by the Presbytery. In that, their polity seems very different from the Episcopal one.

CRS
Guest
CRS

The legality of an implied trust is well worn territory. The Supreme Court itself advised about its problems, unless nailed down — which is why denominations typically stayed away from it, except for TEC, which lost its court battles in Illinois and Texas for just this reason.

Calling pastors etc is irrelevant — if anything it demonstrates the parochial character of TEC vis-a-vis Methodism and Presbyterianism.

When TX ruled against TEC on implied trusts, the Presbyterians were the first ones to begin having parish votes to release property — most of the big ones in Dallas left free and clear.

CRS
Guest
CRS

One can also add SC, whose muddled 3-2 ruling is going nowhere fast in SC courts…

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

Dissenters within TEC were and are free to exercise their consciences by neither getting married to a person of the same sex nor conducting the marriage of a same-sex couple. The UMC provides for no such exercise of conscience for those who want to treat gay folk as equal children of God. The situations are not comparable and the attempted theft by departing conservatives was rightly resisted, just as it was in SEC.

CRS
Guest
CRS

Just factually speaking, I do not believe the SEC is any position to resist St Thomas in Edinburgh from leaving, and the same pertains to other parishes.

Jo B
Guest
Jo B

The SEC does not have parishes. When a group of Episcopalians left the church in Harris to join one of the schismatic group, they were not able to take the building with them. Is there some specific about St Thomas’ Edinburgh that would preclude the same applying?

Susannah Clark
Guest

Say I work for a road haulage company and I argue with the boss. I can quit and start a new company, but I can’t expect to take the lorry I drive with me.

CRS
Guest
CRS

There are indeed parishes in the SEC with a history of previous independence and indeed detachment, which only voluntarily reassociated (in the early 20th century, if memory serves).

But I find it a bit odd for someone who so summarily dismissed the idea for the SEC now being the one asking questions about parishes like St Thomas Corstorphine. Why not read up on the history of the SEC and evangelical parishes like St Thomas, St Silas Glasgow, et al.

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

St Thomas’s Edinburgh was founded by Revered David Drummond who left the Scottish Episcopal Church in opposition to the 1838 “Wee Book” Communion liturgy, in which he detected post-consecration sacrifice, a form of trans-substantiation and invocation of the Holy Ghost on the elements. More precisely he left in 1842 because the SEC refused to allow him to continue using the English Book of Common Prayer Communion. He built St Thomas’s as an independent Anglican church, and it was known in Edinburgh as the English Church. This was, of course, around the time of the Great Disruption in the national Church… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

I am very grateful for your facts here, as it has been some time that I was on the faculty at St Andrews and studied this history. The present rector is a close friend. Previously he was at St Silas in Glasgow, which is a similar place — and both are sizable congregations (btw, the term ‘parish’ in non established church contexts refers to congregations, not English parishes). I believe more recently Trinity Westhills was formed independently, but you will know better. The other complaint of parishes like St Thomas was that were being forbidden to allow non-episcopalians to pray… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Gentlemen, I agree with you, it depends on who legally owns the lorry. If the trustees of the St Thomas’s property legally own it, and can demonstrate that in law, then there’s no issue. They may then act with their own discretion on the use and furtherance of worship at ‘their’ property. If I’m being fair and honest, I think the complexity kicks in, if the ‘lorry’ has been maintained and given extra horse-power etc at private expense by the guy in dispute with the company. Or to put it another way, if a church has been restored, extended, or… Read more »

CRS
Guest
CRS

Churches like St Thomas, Trinity Westhills, St Silas et al represent a theological and worship position quite clearly defined, and they do so in such a way that parishioners are in no doubt and stay and thrive on those same terms. No one is in any doubt. This inheres in their history. If new people arrive and do not like what they here and see, they have other SEC churches to attend. We are far past the point where contested issues are not pretty clearly aired and known. You are correct that the situation in an established church is going… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“In addition, it is proposed that the decision as to whether to welcome same-sex weddings is being left to the local church community.”

Absolutely wrong for an established church. Same sex couples must have the same rights to be marriec locally by their vicar as other couples. If the Church of England cannot accept that, it should disestablish.

Susannah Clark
Guest

Personally, I half-agree: in the long run, I think it would be right that any English citizen should have the right to be married in their own local church, regardless of the stance of its PCC. However… 1. In terms of realpolitik I think allowing local churches an opt out in the first instance would be the best way to make progress on this issue. 2. I am fundamentally opposed to any priest being required to act against their personal conscience. I am absolutely against that. Therefore, even if we got to the point where gay and lesbian couples were… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

No priest can lead a parish if they believe some parishioners should have less rights than others. Doing so is utterly incompatible with the office.

Susannah Clark
Guest

And if the PCC and the church community generally believe, as a matter of faith and conscience, that marriage is defined as only between a man and a woman in the Bible… …Should they all be thrown out too? The Church is divided down the middle on this issue. All your absolutism is prescribing seems to me to be schism. I believe in respect for conscience, and I believe as Christians we should recognise that people of good faith have diverse views on this issue. I speak as a lesbian woman whose ‘rights’ seem limited in the Church of England… Read more »

T Pott
Guest
T Pott

I agree that priests should be free to refuse to participate. But I cannot see what it has to do with PCCs or the local church, as opposed to parish, community. The fact that the Church is divided is all the more reason PCCs should not be forced to take a stance on the matter. Foisting this sort of decision on to them would be the really divisive thing to do. I can understand there may be people who would leave the Church of England if it allows same-sex marriage at all. But are there really people for whom the… Read more »