December 10, 2014
Dear Church of God Congregation and/or Church of God Minister,
You are probably aware that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned state laws that ban same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. By doing so, the Supreme Court has basically established a new legal precedent that legalizes gay marriage. A couple of years ago the Pentagon informed military chaplains that they are allowed to conduct same-sex marriages in states that recognize gay marriages.
As a result of these legal decisions, it is only a matter of time before gay and lesbian couples will be approaching Church of God pastors to perform their same-sex marriages and will request to have them conducted in one of our local church facilities. In light of this reality, our national offices at Church of God Ministries – after consultation with standing legal counsel Dungan & LeFevre Co., LPA – wants to ensure that our credentialed ministers and military chaplains have clarity and are well equipped to deal with legal questions that may arise concerning the issue of same-sex marriage. In an effort to provide support for ministers and congregations across the Church of God, we are sharing this vital information.
Church of God Ministries has asked Indiana Ministries to send the following information to each credentialed congregation and minister regarding Same-Sex Marriages and Facility Protection.
There are several pieces of information that are included and should be reviewed by you and your board.
- This past June (2014) at the Church of God 96th General Assembly, a resolution was adopted regarding the officiating/hosting of Same-Sex Marriages. The resolution is attached in this information for your review.
- Credentialing Manual changes regarding same sex marriages. Two wording changes were made to sections 6.11 and 7.31. Please see attached.
- Frequently Asked Questions – info that will prepare you for questions that you will get from your community.
Indiana Ministries has asked our legal counsel to review the info that Church of God Ministries has suggested as a model policy statement specifically for our congregations in Indiana. After their review, we highly recommend that you add this section to your congregational bylaws:
RESTRICTION ON USE OF FACILITIES
The (insert here the name of church) Corporation reserves the right to restrict the use of all properties owned from any event or program (including same-sex weddings) judged by the (insert here your congregation’s top decision making board) to be at odds with the mission or teachings of the congregation and/or with the Church of God movement (Anderson, IN), represented formally by the actions of the movement’s General Assembly in United States and Canada.
Please contact our offices if you have further questions regarding this issue.
Executive State Minister