Worshippers at Washington DC’s Foundry United Methodist Church voted 367 to 8 last month to allow same-sex marriages to take place at the church and to allow its clergy to perform said ceremonies.
According to the the US capital’s LGBTQ community news service Washington Blade, the progressive church has long been a champion of LGBT inclusion and in making this move, has put itself in conflict with United Methodist Church rules which do not allow ceremonies that “celebrate homosexual unions”.
John R. Schol, bishop of the United Methodist’s Baltimore-Washington region, wrote to the church’s congregation saying he was the one responsible for enforcing the church’s same-sex marriage ban, which is included in the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
He said in his letter: “In the midst of these difficult matters of the church, I will do all I can to be fair and compassionate as I work to maintain the unity and witness of the church.
“As a bishop of the church I am responsible for upholding our Book of Discipline and will process and follow through with any complaint or charge against a United Methodist clergyperson of the Baltimore-Washington Conference who performs a same gender wedding or holy union.”
The Congregation Council, which serves as the Foundry United Methodist Church’s governing body, said their decision to allow same-sex weddings had been prompted by the capital’s legalisition of same-sex marriage last December.
Spokesperson Nancy Groth said to the Washington Blade: “Many of us felt that it was a matter of conscience to treat all members’ covenant relationships with the same Christian pastoral care and affirmation of their faith community”.