Who thought it’d be Texas setting an example?
The First United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas has refused to hold anymore weddings until it is allowed to marry same-sex couples.
The clergy also won’t be holding any wedding ceremonies off-site, but will still offer additional services, like blessings or counselling. All weddings that are currently booked will go ahead.
The church recently held a vote among its congregation, and 93% of them backed allowing same-sex marriage.
However, the church’s national denomination, the United Methodist Church, refuses to perform same-sex marriages, and any clergy members who perform them face getting defrocked.
The First United Methodist Church released a video on their website, explaining their reason. In the video, church member Darcy Hamre said: “This sacrifice embodies our love and support for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.”
The church’s senior pastor, Rev. Taylor Fuerst said: “This resolution to create a policy for marriage equality is a tangible act of willing sacrifice.
“Our church is choosing to set aside the privileges of some in order to stand in solidarity with others who can’t get married in our church by our clergy.”
Speaking to the Huffington Post Queer Voices, Rev. Fuerst said that the church decided to take action after three same-sex couples, who belonged to the church, had to marry elsewhere because of the denomination’s stance.
“They didn’t even have the option to wed in the church,” she said.
“Their weddings were joyful, beautiful occasions, but it was painful to have the shadow of this exclusion over so many people who are faithful, growing disciples of Christ and leaders in our congregation. It goes directly against what we believe Jesus taught and revealed to us about God in scripture.”
Rev. Fuerst finished by saying: “I don’t know whether our action will effect change in the UMC policy, but I do hope it will give courage to other congregations and their leaders, to consider how God may be calling them to act.
“We are not powerless; we can make change right where we are.”
The First United Methodist Church’s actions are similar to those of Ben & Jerry’s in Australia, who have banned people from ordering two scoops of the same flavour of ice cream until same-sex marriage is legalised in the country.