Dozens of the clergy within the United Methodist Church in Minnesota have signed a statement saying they would marry any couple who came to them, including same-sex couples.
During the Methodists’ annual conference in St. Cloud, about 40 clergy signed a statement saying they would “offer the grace of the Church’s blessing to any prepared couple desiring Christian marriage.”
“Groups have been meeting who want to challenge parts of the United Methodist polity with which we disagree—that which relates to the lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual community and Christian marriage,” said Rev. Bruce Robbins, who serves at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis, during the annual conference at the Saint Cloud Civic Center on Wednesday.
“With the possibility of a constitutional amendment in the state of Minnesota [defining marriage as limited to heterosexual couples], this seems important,” he said.
The statement isn’t officially part of the annual conference. Bishop Sally Dyck said to simply make the statement — as opposed to actually officiating a same-sex union — was not a chargeable offense according to most recent edition of The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.
She reiterated, however, that the church does not allow for same-sex marriage, and clergy who perform them can lose their credentials.
“Our church is not of one mind of this,” Dyck said. “Our communities are not of one mind. There are many ways in which families and churches and communities differ in their understanding about the way to go forward. It is important for us to be mindful of each other and recognize differences and hold each other in grace.”
Minnesota United Methodists meet annually for policy decisions, ministry planning, worship and ordination. About 900 voting members—half of whom are clergy and half are laity—attend the annual conference, which this year convenes from June 1-3.
About 75,000 members worship in 365 United Methodist churches in Minnesota.