The congregation of D.C.’s Foundry United Methodist Church near Dupont Circle voted 367 to 8 on Sept. 26 to allow same-sex marriages to be performed at the church and to authorize its clergy to perform such marriages.
The action places the progressive-leaning congregation, which has long welcomed LGBT people into its fold, in violation of United Methodist Church rules, which state, “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.”
The bishop in charge of the denomination’s Baltimore-Washington region, John R. Schol, responded to Foundry’s action by sending the congregation a letter saying he is responsible for enforcing the church’s same-sex marriage ban, which is incorporated in the United Methodist Book of Discipline.
“In the midst of these difficult matters of the church, I will do all I can to be fair and compassionate as I work to maintain the unity and witness of the church,” he said. “As a bishop of the church I am responsible for upholding our Book of Discipline and will process and follow through with any complaint or charge against a United Methodist clergyperson of the Baltimore-Washington Conference who performs a same gender wedding or holy union.”
Rev. Dean Snyder, Foundry United Methodist Church’s senior pastor, could not be immediately reached to determine whether he plans to risk possible disciplinary action by performing a same-sex wedding at the church.
Sources familiar with the church say no same-sex weddings have been performed there since the congregation passed its Sept. 26 resolution and none were scheduled to take place in the immediate future.
The one-page resolution says the congregation believes the church prohibition against same-sex unions violates the United Methodist Church’s constitution, which bars discrimination in church functions based on “race, color, national origin, status or economic condition.”
“We therefore recommit to working within the denomination to change the Discipline of the United Methodist Church so that it may be consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ,” the resolution says.
Nancy Groth, a spokesperson for Foundry United Methodist Church’s Congregational Council, which serves as the church’s governing body, said the decision to authorize same-sex weddings at the church was prompted by the city’s action last December to legalize same-sex marriage.
“Many of us felt that it was a matter of conscience to treat all members’ covenant relationships with the same Christian pastoral care and affirmation of their faith community,” she said in an e-mail.