The Methodist Church has become the largest religious denomination in the UK to permit same-sex marriages.
The Church announced on Wednesday that same-sex couples will be allowed to get married on its premises. After debates on the topic at the Methodist Conference, the proposals to allow same-sex marriages were passed with 254 votes in favor and 46 against.
The Methodist Church said ministers who oppose the changes will not be forced to carry out same-sex marriages.
Dignity & Worth, a campaign group in the Methodist Church, said the vote was a “momentous step on the road to justice and inclusion” after many years of sometimes painful conversations.
Rev. Sam McBratney, who chairs the group, praised the “courageous step” taken by the church.
The Rev Sonia Hicks, elected as the Methodists’ first black female president at the weekend, said it was a “historic day for our church”. She urged people “to support each other respecting our differences”.
Jayne Ozanne, a campaigner for LGBT+ equality and a member of the C of E’s ruling body, the General Synod, said the vote reflected “the significant shift that there has been among Christian attitudes in England, and shows how so many people would echo the recent call of Bishop Paul Bayes to allow same-sex marriage in the C of E”.
The church has a membership of 164,000, making it the fourth-largest denomination of Christian churches in the U.K.