What We Believe

As a denomination of the Christian Faith, The United Methodists support worldwide ministry with other churches to spread the gospel, care for those seeking a connection with God and nurture communities of Christian disciples, following Jesus’ model of love and generosity. We listen, reach beyond ourselves, and offer help, hope and healing to those who are rethinking how to have more meaning in their lives.

For more than 200 years, The United Methodist Church and our predecessors have addressed poverty and the disenfranchised. We are committed to growing congregations and developing Christian leaders with the skills and spiritual strength to cope with the demands of the world. We play a significant role in educating others about devastating diseases, especially those which disproportionately affect the poor. We discern ways to fight disease and to provide better health conditions for people around the world. Our church advocates for justice and equality, and offers a voice when the struggles of the helpless are unheard.

We are connected, caring and concerned about ministry that challenges our passion for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
All persons are welcome in The United Methodist Church. Celebrating a diversity of peoples, age levels, ideas and cultures, we are enriched by our history. We trace this history back to the 18th-centry evangelical leaders John and Charles Wesley in England. These men changed their world then, today the church seeks to rethink how to effect change in the world.

United Methodists trust free inquiry into matters of Christian doctrine. Our faith is guided by the Scripture, tradition, experience and reason. Scripture is of paramount importance. For United Methodists, the Bible is the record of God’s people living out God’s promise.

 

Marriage Equality

Marriage Equality Task Force Report to Church Council
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple
September 18, 2014

On June 12, 2014, the Marriage Equality Task Force met for this first time. This group had been created at the request of the Church Council to guide the congregation through a process of discernment about whether the Chicago Temple would uphold the United Methodist Church Book of Discipline which prohibits same sex weddings being held in the church and performed by clergy, or whether we wanted to step outside of that policy. As a Reconciling Ministry congregation with a Statement of Welcome and Inclusion for all adopted in 1996 and unanimously reaffirmed by the current Church Council this summer, many in the church thought we should not continue to discriminate against LGBTQ persons with the legalization of same gender marriage in Illinois as of June 1, 2014.

At that first Task Force meeting, subcommittees were established to explore many aspects of the issue: the impact on clergy, what it would mean for the use of the church building and facilities, what the UMC Book of Discipline actually says, and a bibliography/resource group that would gather materials to help all of us. The subcommittees met independently and reported back to the Task Force, the Church Council and the congregation. A Marriage Equality Policy Proposal was drafted and presented to Church Council. It was accepted with some revisions to be put before the congregation for a vote. A voting procedure was outlined for the Council that would give members the deciding vote, but allowed non-members an advisory vote as there are many people who are active in the church but for various reasons are not members.

There were 2 well-attended congregational meetings held on Sundays in July and August as informational sessions.  Information was also shared at the July and August Church Council meetings and was available on the church’s website. Task Force meetings were publicized and open for anyone to attend. Prayer sessions were held between services for several weeks to help people as they considered how they would vote on the issue. A letter was mailed to the congregation that included the Marriage Equality policy proposal and voting procedures and dates. The 3 pastors attended a special session September 9 called by Bishop Sally Dyck for all Northern Illinois Conference clergy about what can and cannot be done in UMC churches now that same gender marriage is legal in Illinois.  There was another special congregation meeting called September 11th to hear from the pastors about what the Bishop said and to further explore what the Chicago Temple wished to do.

An all congregation vote of those present was held September 13 and September 14 at the church of those who present to vote. Members and Non-Members were asked to vote yes or no on whether the First UMC – Chicago Temple should affirm the marriage equality policy:

203 members voted
173 Yes Votes to Support the Marriage Equality Policy
26  No Votes
4 Abstentions
 
84 non-members voted in an advisory only role
70 Yes Votes to Support the Marriage Equality Policy
14 No votes

Those in favor of supporting marriage equality at the Chicago Temple equaled about 85 percent of those who voted.  The decision is clear that the congregation supports going against the UMC Book of Discipline and allowing our clergy, if they so choose, to perform same gender weddings in the church building.   As stated in the newly adopted policy, the congregation also pledges to work to get the discriminatory, offensive language in the Book of Discipline changed at the next UMC General Conference in 2016.

The Marriage Equality Task Force requests that the Church Council make a motion to accept the voting results and to adopt the Marriage Equality Policy for the First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple. We also request that the church post the new policy on the church’s website under the “What We Believe” tab, immediately change the language on the website on the wedding request form to be gender neutral (no more bride and groom), and provide a link to the new Marriage Equality Policy and to the Statement of Welcome and Inclusion on the wedding information page.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Jann Ingmire
Chair, Marriage Equality Task Force
Member, Staff-Parish Relations Committee