- (Photo: Courtesy Arch Street UMC)
More than 30 Pennsylvania pastors belonging to the United Methodist Church intend to officiate a same-sex wedding in direct opposition to the denomination's official position on homosexuality.
Clergy and laity recently met at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Philadelphia where many in attendance agreed to officiate a same-sex wedding next month.
Rev. David Brown of Arch Street UMC told The Christian Post that the action was done in response to the church trial of one of their peers over his involvement in blessing a gay union.
"Arch Street United Methodist Church (ASUMC) held the meeting as an information session for interested clergy and laity around the trial of Rev. Frank Schaeffer," said Brown, who added that other issues discussed included "possible actions in support of this community prior to and during the scheduled church trial."
Brown also told CP that "it has not been finalized that Arch Street will have a role in the same-sex wedding ceremony."
According to the UMC Book of Discipline, homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and non-celibate homosexuals cannot undergo ordination.
The Book of Discipline further states that UMC clergy cannot perform same-sex unions and defines marriage as being a union of one man and one woman.
While periodically debated, the Book of Discipline's language regarding homosexuality has survived efforts to change it, including most recently at the 2012 UMC General Conference in Tampa, Fla. Since the 2012 General Conference, some regional conferences have passed resolutions denouncing the mainline denomination's position on the hot-button issue.
Rev. Frank Schaeffer is one of a small number of American UMC clergy currently facing church trial this year for blessing a same-sex marriage.
Arch Street UMC belongs to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, which has 463 churches and about 125,000 members.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson, head of the EPC UMC, told The Christian Post that she was not at liberty to provide any comment but that she was "in prayer for all involved in this process."
When asked by CP if he believed the UMC leadership will punish the 30-plus clergy should they officiate the ceremony next month, Brown said he was unsure.
"It is difficult to say what the United Methodist Church's official reaction will be to the actions of those in support intend to take. We wouldn't characterize any action as 'punishment'," said Brown. "However, we remain in prayer that our actions will help to move the agenda along toward the United Methodist church's denominational support of this important community."