Friends, we are all aware of the news that has come out concerning the ruling by the Supreme Court concerning same-sex marriage. Several church members have emailed me information that has been on the internet with suggestions that the church should protect itself with “a clear statement of faith regarding human sexuality and marriage.” I offered a response to them and feel it appropriate to share my response more broadly:
As a United Methodist congregation, you might find it helpful to take a look at our Indiana United Methodist Bishop Mike Coyner’s response to this court ruling as our Indiana Bishop.  He reminds all of us that “This decision is about equal civil rights, it is not about a religious ceremony or about the religious teachings regarding the meaning of marriage. Our United Methodist Church was the first denomination to advocate for equal civil rights for gay and lesbian persons when we added that statement into our Social Principles in 1972.” (The Social Principles are contained in our Book of Discipline.) On the other hand, the decision by SCOTUS in no way changes The United Methodist Church’s position on this issue, nor does it change our disciplinary policy on weddings in our church. Our church is guided by the Book of Discipline and only our United Methodist General Conference (which meets once every four years and will meet again in 2016) is allowed to speak on behalf of The United Methodist Church. Therefore, Community United Methodist Church and its pastors would not be permitted to establish our own statement of faith and sexuality. We are already governed by the Book of Discipline, and Bishop Mike speaks to the guidelines contained therein in his E-pistle

At the same time, we – as a local church and also as part of the larger Church – will have to wrestle with the fact that people of faith do hold different positions on a variety of topics and offer differing opinions that come from different interpretations of scripture — grounded in our own traditions, experiences and reason. All of us have some passages of the Bible to which we cling strongly and literally, and all of us have passages to which we no longer adhere or for which we claim some interpretive freedom. There are those in our congregation that decry the ruling of the Supreme Court and those in our congregation that celebrate it. So how do we live and worship and praise God together? That will be the challenge in all United Methodist congregations as we move forward and as we watch our delegates to the United Methodist General Conference gather May 10-20, 2016 in Portland, Oregon, where part of their task will be to wrestle with petitions to change our Book of Discipline on this issue.
Again, I hope you will take a look at Bishop Mike’s remarks, which I think you will find helpful and relatively balanced.  Continue to keep our church, our bishop and our delegates to General Conference in prayer in the days, weeks and months to come.
Blessings, Pastor Cheryl