Members of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington D.C. voted 367 to 8 on Sept. 26 to allow same-gender marriages to be performed in its building. Foundry is among many congregations in Washington that have been discussing same-sex marriages since the city passed the Marriage Equality Act last March.
The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s rulebook, says it is a chargeable offense for a clergyperson to conduct a holy union or marriage for gays and lesbians. Following Foundry’s vote, Washington Area Bishop John R. Schol released a statement to clergy and lay leaders in the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference. “In the midst of these difficult matters of the church,” he wrote, “I will do all I can to be fair and compassionate as I work to maintain the unity and witness of the church.” But as a bishop, he noted, he is responsible for upholding church law 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.”
Earlier this year, Dumbarton United Methodist Church, a Reconciling Congregation in Georgetown, publicly proclaimed its offer to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples.
The United Methodist Church has dealt with the issue of homosexuality for 10 General Conferences (1972-2008). Each time, the denomination has affirmed the “sacred worth” of all persons while at the same time upholding that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Delegates to the 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh expanded Paragraph 2702 of the Book of Discipline to include “conducting ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions, and performing same-sex wedding ceremonies” to the list of chargeable offenses that could evoke a disciplinary trial for a United Methodist clergyperson. Delegates voted overwhelmingly 756-159 (83 percent) to not allow homosexual unions or marriages.
From combined dispatches, including UM News Service.