The Rev. Howard Stringer, Bailiwick of Guernsey Methodist circuit superintendent minister, said marriages could take place as soon as the autumn after the Methodist Church in the UK and the community in the Channel Islands voted in favour of redefining marriage. He has personally welcomed the move.
Methodist marriages have been redefined to wed any two people freely entering the union, regardless of gender. At the same time, unmarried, cohabiting couples were also formally accepted.
Proportionately the Channel Islands mirrored a national decision within the Methodist community, with a large majority in favour.
Each Bailiwick church's view of the redefined marriages taking place on Methodist premises will be discussed at church councils in October, to ensure the congregations agree.
Contrasting views are allowed and encouraged within the congregation, and the church is ready to make arrangements nationwide to heal potential divisions. Ministers can opt out of leading ceremonies.
‘I can speak on behalf of the Methodist Church in the Bailiwick, but I cannot speak for individuals within the churches,’ Mr Stringer said.
By the new definition, marriage is ‘a lifelong union in body, mind and spirit of two people who freely enter it’.
‘While the Methodist Church has issued a new definition of marriage, to include any two people regardless of gender, those who disagree may find this challenging,’ he said.
‘I won’t be opting out individually, but I won’t be trying to influence any of my colleagues.
'If some of the congregation do not approve, we will go with the majority decision. Methodist ministers can now do marriages anywhere, because of the recent law change, in every location from Bordeaux to Torteval and across the Bailiwick.’
So far no enquiries have been made to host a same-sex marriage in the Bailiwick.
‘But I wouldn’t be surprised if we do get some. Those who want to get married in a church may have been waiting for some time. It will likely be autumn at the earliest that we do any, after our church council meeting in October.’
For Mr Stringer, cohabiting was not a personal issue prior to the official decision.
‘I’m socially quite a liberal person anyway, my faith is my faith.
‘I believe the Methodist Church should be a place of inclusive welcome and none should feel unwelcome to come to church and have their unions blessed. We are open to absolutely everybody, while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all concerned.’