On July 12, 2015, some 18 years after first becoming a Reconciling Congregation in the United Methodist Church, after much conversation and prayer, our St. John’s on the Lake UMC congregation reached a full consensus to make our Sanctuary open for all weddings, including same-sex marriages, recently ruled Legal and Constitutional by the US Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 (but still prohibited by church law by our denomination). We intend to add our congregation’s name to the list of UMC congregations (86 of them scattered around the USA, with 3 of those in the southeast—we would be the 4th) that publicly state that we are a congregation that will host same-sex ceremonies. Here’s what it said:

“We, as a United Methodist congregation, have committed to supporting and honoring same-sex marriages in the same way that we support and honor other marriages. We believe that banning same-sex marriage is inconsistent with Christ’s teaching, and the constitution of the United Methodist Church. We fully recognize and assume the risks associated with these commitments, because we are called upon by God, through Jesus Christ, to resist injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Our sanctuary is open for all to make a commitment of love and fidelity through Christian marriage.”

To fully dedicate this decision at St. John’s, during this Sunday’s worship celebration (Sunday, July 19), as we engage (during our July worship series) the “Revolutions” theme of “The Reformation” and explore “bad church practices,” we will celebrate and recognize all of those same-sex marriages in our midst—especially those now #MarriedintheUSAbutnotintheUMC. (Let us know if you would like your marriage celebrated and recognized during this time.)

Join us this Sunday and over the weeks and months ahead as St. John’s adopts the “Biblical Obedience” stance of the progressive and prophetic voices in the UMC.

“Biblical Obedience is a call for us to claim our identity as it relates to the Bible, to speak truth to power, and decide that laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons and allies in the life of the Church are immoral and unjust and are no longer deserving of our loyalty and support. It is a call to declare our beliefs and start doing the right thing. Jesus was asked by a scribe, “Which is the greatest of all the commandments?” Jesus simply said, “There is only one God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” It is time for us as people of faith to live into those commandments. It is time to see ALL human beings as our neighbors. That is Biblical Obedience.”

– Bishop Melvin Talbert