SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Five United Methodist churches in the Sacramento area will defy church rules and begin performing same-sex wedding ceremonies inside their sanctuaries.
They’re joining a dozen churches in Western states that have started holding ceremonies that break tradition, because local church leaders and their parishioners want a change.
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church is one of the five congregations in the Sacramento area.
“It’s a matter of conscience and faith, and it’s not a matter of disobedience to the church,” Pastor Alan Jones. “It doesn’t feel like something extraordinary and something different, because it just fits naturally in the life of who we are.”
The marriages are against international church rules. Some pastors in other states have been defrocked.
But Jones says not allowing gay couples to marry is not Christian.
“The church law is telling me contradictory things,” he said. “It’s telling me not to discriminate. It’s telling me homosexual persons are of sacred worth and at the same time it’s telling me to discriminate against them.”
The pastor says what he and the clergy are doing contradicts the United Methodist Book of Discipline. But he says times have changed.
“Our conscience is bothered by being told it’s not right for us to fully welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters as full members of our family,” said Karen Humphrey.
Not all Methodist churches in the area are on board, saying the reason the Book of Discipline exists is so there are laws to abide by. Making a change this drastic, they say would force some clergy members to leave the church.
But St. Mark’s hopes the movement will catch on and that one day, all Christians can welcome everyone into their churches who want to say I do.
The only way to change church law for the entire Methodist faith would be to bring the issue to a vote at the next general conference in 2016.