The Conference voted 247 to 48 in favour of allowing, in theory, same-sex weddings to take place on their premises and to be conducted by Methodist ministers.
Resolution 10/8, the relevant vote that was carried, reads: "The Conference consents in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises throughout the Connexion and by Methodist ministers, probationers or members in so far as the law of the relevant jurisdiction permits or requires and subject to compliance with such further requirements, if any, as that law imposes."
This is conditional of it also being voted through at the conference in July 2020.
Chair of the Methodist Evangelicals Together group, David Hull told Premier: "I'm very saddened by that decision. The conference will claim that this is a decision that is being put out as a consultation - and it's right that this is going to be discussed - but conference has signalled its intention that it wishes to move forward in this way and, as Methodists Evangelicals Together, we are very clear that the good news is for all...and we believe that as part of that good news God's plan for creation is either that we are married as one man and one woman for life or that we are single and celebate just as Jesus was and both of those ways of living are absolutely good news and part of God's good news.
"To move away from that is to move away from the good news."
Others were delighted at the news, with churches tweeting their support and one observer, author Jessica Ryn posting: "After watching the Methodist Conference live for two days, I was thrilled to just see history being made as the Methodist church in UK voted overwhelmingly in favour of same sex marriage within their church denomination. #MethodistConf #loveislove #LoveWins"
After watching the Methodist Conference live for two days, I was thrilled to just see history being made as the Methodist church in UK voted overwhelmingly in favour of same sex marriage within their church denomination. #MethodistConf #loveislove #LoveWins https://t.co/1Ds3iVkbIU— Jessica Ryn (@Jessryn1) July 3, 2019
Conference strongly affirms the principle of allowing same sex marriage in the church. 247 votes to 48.— Southfield Methodist Chapel (@SfieldChapel) July 3, 2019
Still a long way to go but a promising start. pic.twitter.com/uL26E9VGny
The Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Conference who presided over the debates, said: "The debate was full of grace and prayerful thought. There were many personal, often painful, stories shared and representatives listened with great care and attention.
"My prayer is that this spirit of generosity and love shown today will be reflected as the proposals are discussed across the Church."
David Hull added: "I just hope that throughout the consultation, the voices of local Methodists will be heard and will be listened to and taken into account when conference decides whether or not to ratify these decisions next year. We continue to urge the church to remain faithful.
"In all of these debates, it does feel that the centre of gravity within the Methodist Church may well be shifting and shifting away from those who have remained faithful to the document discipline of the church and that will lose many people within the church in a very difficult place."
When asked if he thinks people will leave the denomination if the resolution is approved next summer, Mr Hull replied: "I'm urging people not to leave just yet. I'm urging people to stay and to make the case for remaining faithful as long as we can. I don't believe in division within the body of Christ but I do believe that we need to stand firmly on biblical teaching and so what I will be doing is, when asked the question, whether I continue to uphold the doctrine and discipline of the Methodist Church, if it changes I will have to say no at that point."
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