Goshen church to vote Sunday on performing same-sex marriages

Members of Goshen City Church of the Brethren voted Sunday to allow same-sex marriages in the congregation.

GOSHEN — The members of Goshen City Church of the Brethren will vote Sunday on whether to allow same-sex marriages to be performed by the church pastors.

The decision will be made by the congregation just for the Goshen congregation, said the Rev. Bev Weaver, minister of congregational life.

Weaver is a co-pastor with the Rev. Steve Norton, outreach minister.

“Our vote is about whether the congregation would support pastors in doing weddings for people — gay or straight — who want a Christian wedding,” Weaver said. “This is not an advocacy position. This is more of pastoral care as a result of evangelism work of the church. We have people in our midst who love Jesus and are LGBT. We are wanting to worship together.”

Weaver said there were no other congregations in Goshen in the Northern Indiana District Church of the Brethren district voting for same-sex marriages for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

The Northern Indiana District is one of 23 districts in the Church of the Brethren.

“It’ll be new for this congregation,” Weaver said. “There is a church in Fort Wayne that has already voted and some churches in South Bend that are considering (a vote). There are some churches down state that have voted already.”

The pastor said the response has been mostly positive from congregation members because it touches people.

“We know LBGT folks. It’s a good thing to do,” Weaver said. “The votes by members will be taken at the close of morning worship. I think it will pass. There has been enough conversation and discernment. We will vote to get the answer.”

Upcoming discussion at annual conference

The query for same sex weddings will be addressed during the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference 2016 in Greensboro, North Carolina, from June 29 to July 3, according to Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for Church of the Brethren. The denominational offices are located in Elgin, Illinois.

The query to be considered by one of the districts: “How shall districts respond when credentialed ministers and/or congregations conduct or participate in same sex weddings?”

“It’s been ongoing for a number of years,” Brumbaugh-Cayford said. “The query will be up for discussion at the annual conference, (the highest decision-making conference in the denomination.) Every church sends a delegate, depending on their size.”

Brumbaugh-Cayford said the query itself comes as an open-ended question, and the conference will be deciding if to take it up as an item of business for the denomination, and if so how to address it. Appointing a study committee is only one option for responding to such queries, at this point — before the query is discussed by the delegates. There is no way of knowing what the response of the conference will be.

It could take more than a year for the outcome to be decided, she added.

Follow Sherry Van Arsdall on Twitter at @svanarsdall_TGN.

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