Austin church halts weddings to create marriage equality
An Austin church is halting weddings to take a stand for equality.
The First United Methodist Church of Austin will no longer allow weddings on their property nor will their pastors officiate weddings elsewhere. The church voted to make the change in order to treat all marriages the same regardless of sexual orientation.
The United Methodist Church does not recognize same-sex marriage, but FUMC Austin says that contradicts their value of inclusion.
"We hope that one day the rules in The United Methodist Church will change and we'll be able to joyfully celebrate all weddings here in the sanctuary with our clergy presiding," says senior pastor Taylor Fuerst.
On Sunday 93 percent of the congregation voted in favor of the change. Fuerst says it's ideal that not 100 percent of the church feels the same way so that there's room for conversation.
"If we all just agreed and there was no challenging voice then that doesn't really feel like true ... what we call discernment ... which is really discussing and praying and listening to one anothers' stories and listening to the hurt and the pain that's been caused in the church," says Fuerst.
Fuerst says the church made the policy change so they could create equality in their church while still abiding by the Book of Discipline, which outlines the rules of The United Methodist Church.
"As we look in The Bible at the life of Christ, what we see is that Christ stepped out of his own position, came down from Heaven to Earth to be with us -- to be like us. It was there that we saw the sacrificial love of God. That's what we are both called and empowered to live in," says Fuerst.
FUMC Austin will still honor weddings currently on the church's calendar, but moving forward no more weddings will be scheduled. All couples will be able to receive premarital counseling and a marriage blessing through the church.