FAIRPORT, N.Y. (WROC) — Same-sex couples are now able to get married at Fairport United Methodist Church after 10 years of working to make it happen.
An overwhelming majority of the congregation recently voted to allow this which goes against the doctrine of the parent United Methodist Church.
Rev. Michelle Goff decided to get ordained in the United Methodist Church after being raised in it. She said marrying same sex couples in her church is something she’s wanted since she became ordained 16 years ago.
Pastor Goff said she feels called to change rules to allow same-sex marriages and wants to set that example for her daughters.
“I want them to be part of a church that values and respects and loves all people and lives that out, just doesn’t say it, but actually lives it out,” she said.
The Fairport United Methodist Church is part of the Reconciling Ministries Network. This means they’re a congregation focused on repairing the damage that’s been done to LGBTQ+ people by the denomination in the past.
Tom Deever is a lay leader at the church and was there 10 years ago when they started this journey. He said he’s done a lot of research personally on same-sex marriage in the church.
“It just comes to me that it’s just inappropriate for us not to recognize and celebrate same sex weddings,” Deever said.
Ordained pastors in the denomination aren’t permitted to officiate same-sex weddings and they can’t be held in the churches.
Pastor Goff wanted to allow it and held a vote to make sure her congregation also wanted it. A majority of the congregation voted and 97% voted ‘yes.’ Even so, Pastor Goff is still taking a huge risk.
“Because I’m the pastor and I oversee the goings-on in the church and the ministry it would fall back on me,” she said. “The pastor could have one year without pay and would be pulled from their appointment for a year, that is if charges were brought up and followed through with.”
She said it’s been made clear by the denomination that others wouldn’t be going after pastors who choose to do this, but she said it’s still unknown as to what could happen.
Deever said christianity gets some publicity he’s not proud of, but he’s proud of his congregation for this.
“We celebrate expressions of love and marriage regardless of gender, that’s just exciting.”
Internationally, the United Methodist Church is still split on same sex marriage and LGBTQ+ inclusion. A separation of the denomination will be discussed at the next general conference in 2022.