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Results of God In Love Unites Us Representative Synod

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As you will be aware, an extraordinary Representative Session of Synod was held virtually on Saturday 27th February when we conferred upon the provisional resolutions contained within the "God In Love Unites Us" report in an atmosphere of worship and prayer.

It was helpful to have a panel of six people from across the District, representing differing views on the report, to engage in conversation at the start of the Synod and set the scene for the conferring that followed. I am deeply grateful to those who were willing to support the Synod in that way. The conferring was conducted with respect and good grace and it was good that both Synod members and non-voting participants were able to contribute to our conversations.

The text of the resolutions upon which the Synod expressed its mind, can be found by following this link – https://www.methodist.org.uk/media/12606/3240-10-amended-marriage-and-relationships-report.pdf. The result of the voting on each resolution, an amendment passed and some of the significant points of our conversations are outlined on the document accompanying this letter and all of this will be submitted to the Conference Office. The feedback from the District Synods will be reflected upon by a connexionally appointed working party who will draft a further report with resolutions for the Conference when it meets in June.

I recognise that the indicative votes at our Synod will be a source of great joy to some but a cause of concern for others and the outcome of the Conference in the summer will also be important to all of us for different reasons. We have known throughout these conversations that we hold contradictory convictions about the appropriate way forward but despite that, we are called to continue to love one another and remain in unity as members of the body of Christ. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4 of the many important things that unite us – "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

So, as we journey on through these coming months I encourage you to focus on the things that bind us together, so that we might continue to show each other love and respect, speak of each other with care and understanding and pray for one another, remembering that we are all made in God's image and are all of value and worth.

With love and prayers for you all.

Gill Newton
District Chair

SHEFFIELD METHODIST DISTRICT -REPRESENTATIVE SYNOD OUTCOMES


RESOLUTION 10/2
Significant points raised in the debate:

  • Self-giving in itself cannot lead to fullness of life.

RESOLUTION 10/3
Significant points raised in the debate:

  • "Enter freely" is not the same as "freely enter" so language could be improved in this resolution.
  • No biblical support has been offered for cohabitation before marriage.
  • Cohabitation does not necessarily imply a sexual relationship and to deny people the opportunity to live together in a committed relationship is not pastoral.
  • The church may be in danger of losing its prophetic voice by conforming to societal practices.

RESOLUTION 10/7
Significant points raised in the debate:

  • The church is strongest when it remains united in diversity.
  • The church is called to show love to all but not to change the order of creation.
  • The report appears to challenge scripture's teaching on sin.
  • There is need for caution in assuming that any individual or group has the monopoly on understanding scripture. It is possible for us to take scripture seriously, seek to remain faithful to it and yet arrive at different conclusions about what it says or teaches.

RESOLUTION 10/8
Significant points raised in the debate:

  • The church has changed its view on the ordination of women so why not do the same with same sex marriage.
  • We have the anomaly of baptising the children of same sex couples but not affirming their relationships.
  • If the church holds two views on marriage, is it really offering any teaching on marriage at all?
  • Supporting these resolutions will create disunity in the church which is not a good witness to the world.
  • We should listen to the stories of growing churches that uphold scriptural holiness.

RESOLUTION 10/9
Significant points raised in the debate:

  • If same sex relationships become prevalent, the future of humankind could be considered to be at risk.
  • Changing the definition of marriage could have an impact upon the ability of ministers to work together harmoniously.
  • The reason for the need to make a referral to the District Chair before conducting a same sex marriage is not clear.

The amendment to Resolution 10/9 supported by the Synod was a change in the wording of clause 8 to the following – "A minister, probationer or member who has conducted a same-sex marriage shall ensure that the District Chair is notified of that marriage."

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