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Evangelical Methodists fast and pray that church would uphold 'the Bible's teaching on marriage'

by Cara Bentley

The Methodist Church in Britain is currently debating whether to allow same-sex couples to wed.

The Marriage and Relationships Task Group will be presenting a report to the Conference next week with recommendations about relationships in general and marriage. If their recommendations are accepted by the Conference they will be submitted to the wider Church for consultation over the next year, with a final decision being made at the July 2020 Conference.

The task group was set up in 2016 to "revisit and consider the definition of marriage" with the chair of the group, Rev Kenneth G Howcroft, writing this year: "We conclude that the legal institution of marriage can prove a critical support for good relating, and that the change in the law opens up the possibility for the Methodist Church to consider extending its practice of marriage to include same-sex couples, which can be seen as part of an ongoing expanding of our understanding of marriage."

The annual Conference starts Thursday 27th June and finishes on Thursday 4th July in Birmingham and the Methodist Evangelicals Together group have called on Christians of all denominations around the world to "engage in prayer and fasting...that our church would remain faithful to the Bible's teaching.

They said: "Methodist Evangelicals Together continues to be committed to the Wesleyan convictions that the gospel is for all, that the Bible is our supreme rule of faith and practice, and that all Christians are called to holiness.

"We therefore uphold the biblical understanding of marriage as the life-long union of one man and one woman, and call upon the Church to do the same.

"We are carefully studying the report, noting that it is intended as a discussion starter rather than reaching definitive conclusions."

The Methodist Church has not fully reflected on the theology of marriage and relationships since 1992.

The full Marriage and Relationships paper will be put before Conference and a vote will be taken.

If the Conference commends it, the report may be presented to Synods from September, with the consultation period being until around Spring 2020.

Synods will vote on the proposals with a report collating all the votes going before the 2020 Methodist Conference.

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