A church in Austin, Texas has decided to stop hosting all weddings until its denomination stops banning clergy from performing same-sex marriages.
After holding a vote on the matter, the First United Methodist Church announced that 93% of its congregation agreed to the proposal in order “to align its wedding policies with its strongly-held principle of full inclusion of all persons.”
Even though the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, clergy members from the United Methodist Church were warned they could be defrocked for officiating gay weddings. Despite the UMC’s constitution saying that “all persons are of sacred worth,” its other teachings declare that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and forbids “practicing homosexuals” from being ordained.
The church in Austin is now fighting back against its denomination’s mixed messages, arguing that the homophobic practices “are fundamentally contrary to our mission and to our service to each member of the church.”
Rev. Taylor Fuerst serves as the senior pastor of the Austin church, and told HuffPost that the decision to vote on the matter stemmed from three same-sex couples, all prominent members of the church, being forced to get married in other locations.
“They didn’t even have the option to wed in the church,” she explained. “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.”
Church members who already had weddings scheduled will still be able to follow through with their plans, but no new ceremonies will be scheduled until the discriminatory policy changes.
Fuerst says church members at least hope it sets a good example for the children of the congregation and inspires other congregations to “consider how God may be calling them to act.”
“We are not powerless,” she told HuffPost. “We can make change right where we are.”