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Examiner
  • Delegates urge church to open door to same-sex marriage

  • After a weekend of discussion and prayer, national delegates have recommended that the Community of Christ recognize same-sex marriage and ordination regardlesss of sexual orientation.

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  • After a weekend of discussion and prayer, national delegates have recommended that the Community of Christ recognize same-sex marriage and ordination regardlesss of sexual orientation.
    The issue of same-sex marriage and other gender issues have been hotly debated in the United States for years. Because of the critical nature of these topics, the Community of Christ church decided to take a stance on the issue during the USA National Conference.
    And after hearing multiple perspectives during the three-day conference, the group of more than 1,500 delegates decided to recommend several policy changes, one of which would recognize same-sex marriages.
    The First Presidency and the Council of Twelve Apostles still need to approve the policy recommendations made by the USA National Conference. The process of developing, approving and implementing interim policies based on those recommendations can take up to one year.
    "We felt this great sense of peace knowing that the Holy Spirit would help us find our way through these issues," said Apostle Linda Booth, president of the Council of Twelve Apostles.  "I am not surprised that the Holy Spirit was there, bringing peace and reconciliation on the issue."
    The delegates addressed three issues during the conference, which ended Sunday. These were same-sex/gender marriages where legal in the U.S. and covenant commitment services where marriage is not legal as well as the ordination of people regardless of their sexual orientation.
    Booth said delegates listened to one another and gathered information on the issues. In each of five sessions, there was a mix of people who identified as having no support, little support, tentative support, significant support or full support.
    At each session, the delegates heard different perspectives, Booth said. "There was a great deal of listening and speaking respectively, so everyone understood all the issues. It was amazing to see the kindness, love and respect everyone gave as people spoke," she said.
    The USA National Conference delegates, by more than the required 67 percent majority, made the following recommendations to the Community of Christ First Presidency and the Council of Twelve:
    n Extending the sacrament of marriage in the United States to persons of the same sex/gender, where legal. This reflects a change to the current policy.
    n A church-recognized way for two persons of the same sex/gender be made available to publicly express their covenant to each other in places within the United States where marriage is not legal. This reflects a change to the current policy in the United States regarding same-sex/gender covenant commitment.
    n Allowing a priesthood call to be processed according to established procedures regardless of sexual orientation, including a person in a monogamous, committed, same-sex/gender relationship (i.e., legal marriage, civil partnership, covenant relationship) in the United States. This also reflects a change to the current policy on ordination in the United States.
    Page 2 of 2 - Booth said same-sex marriages and ordination were issues during the 2010 Community of Christ World Conference. But it was determined that individual countries should decide on the issues in national conferences. Two national conferences were held last year, one in Canada and the other in Australia, to decide these issues. Both nations recommended policy changes on same-sex marriages and commitment ceremonies as well as supporting the ordination of individuals in long-term, committed homosexual relationships.
    Any policy changes will only pertain to churches in the United States. Other countries will continue to abide by existing church policies.
    "At one point during the conference, we had five people come up front during a worship service and sit around a table. Many recognized that some of these individuals had no support, while others had full support (of the issues)," Booth said. "But they sat around the table, broke bread together and talked about the issues. It was symbolic of what we were doing as a body. There will be a lot of issues that we disagree on, but it is how we treat each other and how we go forward as a body that signals to others what it truly means to follow the word of Jesus Christ."
     

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