The Methodist Church of the United Kingdom has passed two resolutions, one officially approving the blessing of same-sex unions and the other recognizing cohabiting couples.
"A report on marriage and relationships, 'God in Love Unites Us,' was received by the Conference in 2019, and the local District Synods were asked to consider the provisional resolutions and report back to this year's Conference," the statement reads.
"The Conference received a report on the results of the local conferring which showed that 29 out of the 30 Synods confirmed support for the provisional resolutions."
As a result, the London-based Conference voted 256-45 to authorize its ministers to perform same-sex marriages. The Conference also approved the use of Methodist churches for same-sex wedding ceremonies.
Regarding the resolution on cohabitation, the Conference stated that it "recognises that the love of God is present" either "through informal cohabitation or a more formal commitment entered into publicly."
"As a Church, we wish to celebrate that the love of God is present in these circumstances, even if that grace is not responded to or even discerned by the people concerned," the resolution said.
"The Church has an important calling, therefore, to point to the presence of God's love within such relationships, and to encourage people to respond to it in the renewing and deepening (by whatever means) of their commitment," it concluded.
Following debate over the resolutions, the Rev. Sonia Hicks, the Conference's new president, praised the conversations for being "conducted with grace and mutual respect."
"As we move forward together after this historic day for our Church, we must remember to continue to hold each other in prayer, and to support each other respecting our differences," she wrote.
Meanwhile, the chair of Methodist Evangelicals Together, a group that opposed the resolutions, called the effort "a very sad day for the Methodist Church."
"It's heartbreaking really to see where we've come and the way in which we've got here, and many of us have wept over it," The Rev. David Hull said in an interview with Premier Christian News.
"In spite of these votes, there are many, many Methodists who still believe that Jesus offers a unique vision for life — one that is rooted deeply in the Bible, that is better than the world has ever known, better than the world will ever know, and that includes this teaching on marriage and relationships," he asserted.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.