US: North Carolina church refuses to marry straight couples until gay couples can marry
A church in the US state of North Carolina, has said that it won’t conduct wedding ceremonies for straight couples, until its pastors are able to officiate same-sex weddings as well.
Leaders at the Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, asked its pastors just to perform relationship blessings, rather than marriage ceremonies, until the United Methodist Church changes its policies, and until the state’s constitution is amended to allow equal marriage.
Equality NC announced that the church’s 18-member leadership council had made the decision to push the denomination to make changes to its policy regarding equal marriage.
The church released a statement through Equality NC, which read: “On the matter of gay marriage, the church sees injustice in the legal position of state government and the theological position of our denomination,” the statement said. “North Carolina prohibits same-sex marriage and all the rights and privileges marriage brings.
“The leadership council has asked that their ministers join others who refuse to sign any state marriage licenses until this right is granted to same-sex couples,”
“Green Street is presently the only reconciling congregation in the western North Carolina Conference,” the statement said. “With a growing number of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) members, Green Street seeks to be a public witness to its community, conference and denomination.”
In May 2012, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional ban on equal marriage, which over 60% of voters favoured. The United Methodist Church also bans gay people from serving as clergy.
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Reverend Kelly Carpenter, the church’s pastor said in a radio interview on Friday that his congregation contained more than 15 gay and lesbian couples.
He said: “The United Methodist Church, like many other churches, is struggling with language within the denomination. In 2012, there were many attempts to change all the language within the discipline around the issues around gay and lesbian people, and all of those attempts seemed to fail.
“But the percentage of the way in which those votes are taken is narrowing, and I think eventually it will tip over and be more inclusive of the gay and lesbian folks in our denomination.”
The church is due to make a statement on marriage, and to expand on its position on Sunday.
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