Methodist Church in Ireland apologises to LGBTQ+ community but fails to allow same-sex marriage

The church maintained that it understands marriage to be "between one man and one woman" and that it is only within this relationship that "sexual intercourse may take place".

This article is a out the Methodist Church in Ireland apologising to the LGBTQ+ community. The image shows a black Holy Bible resting on stand.
Image: Pixabay via Pexels

The Methodist Church in Ireland has apologised “unreservedly for failures in pastoral support and care” to members of the LGBTQ+ community and their families. It has further condemned all forms of homophobia, but fallen short of recognising same-sex marriages.

The statements came as members of the church gathered at the Assembly Buildings in Belfast on Thursday, June 6, to discuss a new resolution on human sexuality, which ultimately passed by 160 votes to 27. As part of the conference, a much-anticipated report was presented – the result of a 10-year process kickstarted in 2014.

While the report featured the aforementioned apology, it also maintained that the church understands marriage as being “between one man and one woman” and that it is seen as “the only appropriate relationship within which sexual intercourse may take place.” This comes in contrary to the Methodist Church of Great Britain, which has permitted same-sex marriages since 2021.

Furthermore, while the new resolution declares that “all are welcome” in Methodist communities and at the communion table, an amendment which was approved by a vote of 54% to 46%, states that “faithfulness in marriage and celibacy outside of it” is “a standard for spiritual leadership and teaching roles.” This suggests that people in same-sex relationships will not be allowed to assume such roles within the church.

During the debate, one person branded the amendment as “a little bit sneaky,” adding: “If we accept this, we can forget it all, throw the report in the bin, carry on doing nothing and causing hurt.”

A different amendment, which sought to remove the assertion that Bible passages relating to sexuality can be read and understood in different ways, was defeated by 100 votes to 99.

Speaking about the resolution and the apology to the LGBTQ+ community, Steven Smyrl of the Methodist Church in Sandymount, Dublin, said: “It was very welcome, but how far does it go?”

“It still leaves a lot of same-sex people wondering are their relationships given any worth or dignity,” he continued

However, Smyrl expressed hope for the future, saying: “The chances are if the Methodist Church in Ireland survives – like the other evangelical churches in Northern Ireland – I think in the Methodist Church there will be an acceptance of open gay relationships including same-sex marriage.”

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